I consider Symphony X to be at the top of the metal genre in songwriting, as they use techniques that few other bands utilize (successfully). Among these are odd-meter grooves, subtle key changes, and polyrhythms. I feel like Ive said some of this before, but I was thinking about it earlier today and decided to put it in word form. Have you ever noticed how Jason Rullo is able to take a riff that contains an odd meter or two (such as 5/8 or 7/8) and still play an organic groove, as opposed to a synthetic, staggered one? He really is a master of this. Doing this makes a song flow much better than if he were simply copying the riff on drums. An example of this is Set the World on Fire at 0:33. Many other bands (Ill use Dream Theater as an example, since most of us are familiar with them) cant seem to get this down the drums follow the riff and make everything sound broken, almost like the track is skipping (although Dream Theater might do this intentionally). As a result, transitions sound forced and incorrect to the ear. However, even when Rullo does play along with the riff (e.g. The Walls of Babylon at 3:08), it sounds awesome and still flows. How he is able to make even the craziest of riffs flow so well is a mystery to me. Key changes are another area Symphony X excels in. They are able to make the best, smoothest-sounding transitions so well that the average listener doesnt even notice the key has changed. Examples of this include Accolade II (the first verse is the galloping riff in Am, while the second verse is the same riff, but in Abm) and Egypt. In the latter, the riff at 0:52 repeats again after the chorus at 2:27, and they are both in completely different keys. They are the masters of playing the same riff in different keys, and blending it so well within the song that its barely noticeable. Also, changing keys constantly keeps a song fresh and exciting. In fact, I dont think I can name even one Symphony X song that doesnt change keys at some point! I cant think of anyone who uses polyrhythms better than Symphony X. The most common type they seem to use is when the bass and guitar play a simple, pattern-oriented riff (lets say in 3/4) while the drums play a groove in 4/4. Examples of this include The Eyes of Medusa at 0:37, Rediscovery pt. II at 0:47, and Revelation at 2:33. Sure, the drums could just play in 3/4, but it would have a completely different (and more generic) feel. The way they do it, it almost sounds like the bass/guitar part is floating above the drums, doing its own thing yet still contributing to the rhythm. The band also seems to be big on higher-melody polyrhythms, where Pinnella or Romeo repeats a phrase in a different meter than the bottom-end rhythm of the song. Examples include the beginning of Communion and the Oracle at 0:11, Rediscovery pt. II at 0:11, and the awesome blended section towards the end of The Accolade (at 7:27). Thoughts? Opinions? Agree? Disagree?