Separate names with a comma.
Join Symphony X and discover tons of other great Metal forums, sign up today!
Discussion in 'Symphony X (Unofficial)' started by EyeballKid, Jul 23, 2015.
From the other thread:
Disagree with Underworld needing to be longer. I doubt they would add an instrumental section so it would mean just repeating the chorus. One of the best things about that song is that it doesn't repeat three times or more. Agreed about the solo. If you're gonna rip off an old solo twice, why would you choose Serpent's Kiss?! Other than that, all I can say is that I'm glad you enjoy this album so much. I'm jealous.
Now that's just totally false. I'm not 100% sure yet whether or not there is more Pinnella on the main parts of the songs (I think it's equal or slightly in Iconoclast's favor), but Iconoclast had keyboard solos on half of the album. The half that didn't either were beyond redemption anyway (Children), had keyboards all over the rest of the song (End of Innocence, When All Is Lost), or simply had excellent guitar solos (Dehumanized, Heretic, Lords) so it was excusable. Most of the solo sections on Underworld are just downright pitiful. Isaac made a very good post about them earlier so I won't bother getting into that myself.
All right, after a few listens, here's a track-by-track from me:
Overture - Plain mighty, expected nothing less. Takes you on a mini-adventure of sorts, setting the mood very nicely
Nevermore - Ok, so Nevermore should reform and record a track called "Symphony X" as an act of revenge... pretty thrashy, definitely more in the vein of the last two. Insane guitar under the chorus. Some awesome, emotional vocal work from Russel. Very catchy too - like I said in the other thread, I had no idea pop could sound this awesome. The guitar solo feels kinda rehashed and unfresh, but it doesn't put me off.
Underworld - Again, some mighty vocal work and general thrashiness. I definitely like Russel's harsher side. The thrash parts get old after a very short while, but the guitar/keyboard maelstrom behind the chorus gets me every time. Good solo parts, but I'm not too fond of the song as a whole.
Without You - Here comes the resident ballad single. Kinda reminds me of the "Twilight in Olympus" vibe. Gonna get a lot of airplay on late-night radio, I guess. I like Russel's vocals in the chorus.
Kiss of Fire - Powerful! Love the register shift in the chorus. Too repetitive for my taste, though.
Charon - I like the flow of the song. Decent vocals, love the bass work happening underneath. The soloing reminds me a lot of Marty Friedman's style circa-RiP.
To Hell and Back - The intro reminds me of disco polo, I shit you not. Even when I hear the vocals, I hear something that could very well win Eurovision. Except that it clocks in at over nine minutes. Pretty cool solo, though not in a balls-out, form-over-matter way. Those pauses really make it. Great vocals in the latter half. The second guitar solo could well find itself on a Sigh album.
In My Darkest Hour - Brilliant vocal work over here. Far too short, could use a non-solo instrumental section here and there. Love the solo.
Run With the Devil - Upbeat riff. Not very eventful, but I like it. Wild solo. I don't get all of the hate posted here.
Swan Song - Beautiful piano intro, beautiful song in general. Again, pretty cool vocals. Very nice solo.
Legend - Love the solo trade-offs. Sweet chorus. I think this might be my favorite.
Yeah, it's not a perfect album and they've done better. I'm not enough of a Symphony X nerd to tell if it's their worst offering, but it's certainly not the best. They're playing it too safe in the songwriting department. I've gotten used to the fact that we aren't going to get another 20-minute masterpiece anytime soon, but the bulk of "Underworld" is so schematic and predictable that it gets boring after a while. Not prog-boring; repetitive-boring. The execution, however, is spot-on.
Alright, I got access to all my music now so I can compare the two albums. I must admit my memory failed me on Iconoclast's keyboard solos.
My main argument was that the keys on Iconoclast were either in the foreground (mostly solos) or not there at all, with band moments being very very rare. My gut feeling tells me Underworld is slightly better in this regard.
I'll retreat from the discussion until I've given the album some more spins...
No problem, man. I haven't listened enough to really be doing any in-depth comparisons either. I just think it's certainly not a "Pinnella's back!" situation. The difference between the two albums one way or another is actually very minimal. There's isn't a true equivalent for everything between the two, but if I had to compare a few of the keyboard performances based on the general type of song and the role they play in the album, I'd do it like this:
Swan Song vs When All Is Lost - It's just piano and strings on SS. WAIL has that, but also adds organ which is completely absent on Underworld.
Underworld vs The End of Innocence - The two songs share an extremely similar structure and usage of keys in the intro and verses. Underworld does get a solo where EOI doesn't, but it's the same type of lead tone used on the entire song. I'd say Pinnella's work is a little more varied and interesting overall on EOI because of what he does on the bridge/instrumental section.
Kiss of Fire vs Heretic - There's the orchestration in the outro, but other than that just some choir hits for Kiss of Fire. Can't really even call that keyboards. Heretic, on the other hand...there's the dirty, heavy synth in the intro, you have your choir and your usual strings/pad throughout, and then another unique tone during the instrumental section before the solo. No comparison really.
Legend vs Reign in Madness - Lots of keys on both. But again, the usage throughout Reign in Madness is much more varied.
Charon vs Prometheus - Nothing going on in the Charon intro. A wide variety of things going on in Prometheus. Similar roles in the other sections, but the Prometheus solo isn't doubled by guitar so it definitely wins overall.
Since those are my favorites from Underworld so far, I've listened to them a few more times and can compare. Aside from "To Hell and Back", I don't think the other songs had much in the way of prominent keyboards.
To me, there are only two improvements this album made over Iconoclast: the vocal performances and the fact that there's a bit more diversity song-wise. Okay, maybe the lyrics have improved as well (to a lesser extent).
What do you guys think about guitar solo quality per album?
The only solo I REALLY like on Iconoclast is Bastards of the Machine (the others are fine, though). Maybe I kind of like the Lords of Chaos solo too, but the song just isn't good.
On Underworld, I can name probably 5 solos I REALLY like. (Underworld, Kiss of Fire, Swan Song, In My Darkest Hour, both To Hell and Back solos..).
On V I don't like any of the solos except Fool's Paradise.
Odyssey takes the cake here, though. KoT, Masquerade, the second Odyssey solo, and Awakenings are godly solos.
Paradise Lost really has...Domination and Sacrifice for good solos? Set the World is ok I guess.
DWOT has Of Sins and Shadows, Sea of Lies, and Out of the Ashes for me. Don't really like the DWOT solos.
Very, very short review: this album is a letdown.
I mean from the beginning to the end of Charon I was like "Oh my God, this is amazing!" There were few things that I didn`t like, but overall great 5 songs + sick intro, as good as PL and Ic ones. As a person who listened to 100 random progressive metal bands searching for "The One", this CD sounded like their music (typical structures of noname`s power/progressive), but done much, much better. It wasn`t a journey or adventure, it was just another album. Great, but it`s just music. Good songs, no movie-like experiences (DWoT, Iconoclast, Church of the Machine). The first half is 8/10.
Ehh... But then they thought "You think that was similiar to typical music in this genre? Just listen to those worst possible cliches" and created the second half, which is boring, ballad-like, slow, without catchy choruses, medicore and not interesting, I wanted to skip most of the songs. Sorry, with the exception of "In my Darkest Hour" for this cool, simple Judas Priest feel to it. "DESACRATOR, DEVASTATOR - SET MY WORLD ABLAZE" with this rhytm and melody... So much JP in it . Also compare "Legend", the last epic song to the other last epic songs - "Revelation" and "Reign in Madness". I hoped that the outro will save it, but it didn`t.
I mean this half isn`t horrible, it`s just full of things I hate in metal bands. Even though it still has few nice moments.
And by the way: not enough instrumental for me and this album seems to be stuck in what I like to call "verse-chorus-verse-chorus trap". I think you know what I`m talking about.
Final vote: 6/10
I agree that Kiss of Fire and Swansong solos are quite good. The other tracks you mention..I cant really recall the solos, have to take another listen.
I can name many solos on V what are superior to any solo on Underworld, Fallen and Communion and Oracle solos come to mind.
My favorite solo on Odyssey album is Accolade II, its interesting, fits the song good and is full of emotion.
Hi SX friends,
With the fantastic artwork within the booklet, I find it a bit surprising that there isn't a special edition CD. Even in Japan, the CD is just your basic run of the mill packaging (and no bonus track!!). There is the different color wax for the LP but that's largely a gimmick.
Has anyone heard of a possible special edition? The CD I have is the US one and it does have an embossed slip sleeve, but that's tame compared to the last couple of releases. Is there any difference to the European CD; or just the slip sleeve? Even 'The Odyssey,' which only had a slip sleeve, at least also had a bonus track.
Just wondering. I find the CD to be excellent as is the artwork - which is why I posed the question at all.
Great post and review. I agree with a lot of your thoughts here as well, especially a couple particular quotes I underlined which were pretty much exactly what I felt.
Not sure if they will remain my favourites after more listens but Legend, Swansong, To Hell And Back and Charon are the ones that stand out most to me after my first few listens.
Opinions be opinions, but the fact that this album is so divisive seems to make it a good one, no?
My only real gripe with the album, besides the fact it isn't a truly experimental work of progpower art like V (which we all should have accepted it wouldn't be once they announced the first album details), is that I find In My Darkest Hour and Run With The Devil bog the album down for me. It makes it even worse that they are placed back to back.
I have now pinpointed what I think my reasoning for not liking them is, and that would be Russ's bluesy vocals on them. I like having varied vocals; however, that vocal style just doesn't fit with SyX at all to me. It really is no different to put that style of vocals on a SyX album than to put R&B or country vocals on one. I get the feeling that Russell had everything to do with those two songs existing in their current state. The music on them has some okay elements in some spots but just fall short, but overall I feel the music was tweaked to sound off from the rest of the vibe of the album in order to make that bluesy style of vocals fit better. Also, do people really like that nasal Avenged Sevenfold crap he pulls at the beginning of RWtD?
For an album that Romeo was saying would be the kind that carry's you through as an "album kind of album", it sure did well up until those two tracks ruined it. I have noticed that every time I listen to the album from start to finish I really get into the flow of the album, but as I approach those two tracks I start dreading the thought of being taken out of the atmosphere that the album sets for itself up until that point. I just really think those two songs sounded totally different than they do now at some point. Instead of making Atomic Soul II Russell pushed to get some of that blues stuff forced into a SyX album...
Overall: I think this a bloody good album.
It enhances classic, modern and I believe also provides new things from Symphony X.
To me "Kiss of Fire" is something completely new.
I will go further in detail later.
I just want to highlight that Jason Rullo (Drummer) kicked incredible air on this album! Glad to see he recovered and playing incredibly well.
"SwanSong" & "Legend" brought tears to my eyes.
On the not of Pinnella and the keyboard on this album I feel that they were more prominent overall. Maybe you could argue they were there as much on the last two albums; however, there were not really any defining moments of them and what WAS there seemed to be easy to not notice due to the loudness of the guitar drowning them out. I am not saying the keys in Underworld are "Awakenings" level or anything, but to me they are at least more noticeable and get a few moments to shine.
I do still wish they would let Pinnella do more of his thing. These newer SyX albums are missing more diverse soundscapes. When is the last time we heard that proggy hammond organ sound? Or maybe more of a dark gothic organ sound like in Church of the Machine? Due to these kinds of things and what has been done on SyX albums pre PL, I can understand some still complaining "Pinnella is dead"; however, I find this longing for him to have more influence (which I have just stated I want too) blinding them from the fact that he DOES indeed come back on Underworld in a small way. Those that said he "makes a return" or "comes back in a big way" are going a bit over the top though, so I can see why some may have been quite let down when hearing the album after those statements.
I do like some of the simpler nuanced things Pinnella brought to Underworld though. Some of the gothic almost black metal sounding patches in tracks such as Underworld and Kiss of Fire went a long way.
At least half the tracks on this album could have been played without Michael Pinnella. Please stop lying bout his presence on this album, really. (And a couple are, for all intents and purpose, played without him). Imagine a track on this album with no guitar, no drums, or no bass, or where its presence was negligible.
The bottom line is besides his few short solos, the keys here have the role they play in bands without full-member keyboardists, e.g. Helloween.
Sorry, Progbass, the Communion solos are just pure ultra boring to me. Fallen is actually decent, but the tone is just dreadful.
So use your computer to rip .mp3's to your hard drive, then remove the two songs you don't like, then burn an audio CD with the remaining songs you do like.
I've done that many times with albums over the years, but I don't do it with my Symphony X albums! LoL
I don't mind the bluesey-sounding stuff, Russ does it so well. Russ does a mean DIO as well!
Russ's vocals were so gruff on Iconoclast, it's refreshing to hear him doing different stuff on Underworld.
I like hardcore chunky power metal too, so I loved the heavier stuff on Iconoclast. The title track being my favorite from that album.
KISS OF FIRE could have easily been on Iconoclast. That song sounds like it was taken from Iconoclast.
Well it's been a good while. But the time to chime in has come. I've given the album a few back to back listens by this point, as well as some broken up listens on shuffle.
My standards where at an all time low, so that may effect my judgement. BUT, Underworld I do seem to enjoy more than both Iconoclast, and Paradise Lost. There are alot of things going for this album, however they are quickly shot down.
Personally, the most uninspiring thing about Underworld is Romeo. There are more solo's on this album, than there are actual songs. When he isin't taking you down a rollecoaster of never changing, recycled riffage, he is throwing shred solo's at you not just once, but twice a song. Sometimes they fit, sometimes they don't, the playing is always fantastic, but what the heck is the point of throwing a shred fest in the middle of everysong, when it doesn't require it?
As for the ups. I actually really dig Allen's vocals on this album. He does alot of new things (not new musically... But things we have never heard him do with Symphony X). And I think alot of it really works well, from his DIO full voice screams, to his harshest vocals yet. It all fits. I never had a problem with his bluesy beats, or his rough Iconoclast vocals. Just that, the later, was over used... Greatly when having Paradise Lost, following Iconoclast!
I think all the band mates really shine on this album, which is a first since The Odyssey IMO. (Minus my Romeo complaints.)
Overall, I've been reading everyone's comments. And I agree with most of them, so I'm not going to post a review of every song.
I hear some new interesting things, that I think could work nicely for the band. I hear even more recycled chords from Paradise Lost. I hear even less classic Symphony X in there. But there is some. My least favorite song, would have to be Charon. Untill the end, where it actually sounds like a blast to the past.
Overall, it's not a bad album. But its still way to streamlined. Perhaps a step in the right direction after Paradise Lost, and Iconoclast. And they did alot of new, interesting things. (If you can use the word interesting when things have become some simplified.) But it's hard to believe the same band who did V, DWOT, or even The Odyssey, released this album. The sound is great, the musicianship is great, some rocking grooves, head bang worthy, but it is lacking it complexity, and creativity IMO.
It is indeed the best of their "mainstream" albums. I feel like it is the album they chose to bring back some of their older elements for the older fans, yet not stray too far from what they have been doing since PL so they don't lose out on the bigger crowds they get at shows. Basically they need to keep their crowds so they can keep living comfortably on their music. They are afraid to do something more experimental because now they know they can live well off of what they have recently been doing.
I am happy to take this "compromise" that they gave us with Underworld. As long as we have to wait for a new SyX album I can just be blissful that they finally gave us SOMETHING that is not pure loudness balls to the wall non unique metal.
I can agree with that, I'm still holding out that they will take the golden oppurtunity for their tenth studio album to be X: The New New Mythology Suite!
I dig the new album, I really do. But, part of me is still let down, and probably will, and for ever be let down!
I understand the whole buisness aspect of it. But Symphony X is big enough at the point, that they could release a completely fresh prog album, to replace V, and fans would love it. I personally have yet to meet a fan, who says they can only listen to Iconoclast, and hate all three of the big three. (DWOT, V, The Odyssey).
That being said, I also understant that there are alot of tools, who think Iconoclast and Paradise Lost are the second comming of christ. Which perhaps, when compared to the mainstream, is the creme de la crop! But as far as Symphony X goes, its not. I also wouldn't be against them rerecording Self titled.