|Review: Symphony X - The Odyssey|
Label: Inside Out Music
Year released: 2002
Genre: Progressive Power Metal
Review online: December 20, 2002
Reviewed by: Iwarrior
Rated 4.3/5 (86%) (40 Votes)
The genres of progressive metal and power metal can have certain pitfalls that many bands can’t help but fall into. Many prog metal bands tend to be complex for the sake of complexity. Power metal bands too often spend much of their time mining the catalogs of Iron Maiden and Helloween instead of finding their own identities. Both genres can be quite incestuous and seem to be full of bands that are better at showing off their chops and putting on clinics than they are at writing compelling and original songs.
Symphony X not only dodge those pitfalls, but they also fill them up with cement.. Nowhere on this record will you find songs that gallop off into infinity like some tedious power-chord polka or become tangled in arrangements that were designed to confuse the casual listener. The Odyssey is this band’s most astounding victory to date. One thing that instantly struck me about it was the anger and savagery that came through songs such as "Incantations Of the Apprentice", "Wicked" ,and my favorite track "King Of Terrors". Unlike many of their peers, Symphony X appear to have found something to make their collective blood boil and have freshened their sound as a result. There are no wasted moments on The Odyssey. Even the epic title track manages to avoid padding and fluff to entertain throughout its entire twenty-four minutes.
More than ever, Symphony X show that they are Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force as a democratic ensemble. Michael Romeo displays some of the most amazing feats of olympian metallic guitar agility I’ve heard this year as he fires off solos and riffs that bob, weave, dart , and dash like bolts of lightning. Russell Allen steps to the fore as one of metal’s master thespians, channeling Ronnie James Dio , Warrel Dane, and even Steve Walsh whenever he needs them. Mike Lepond and Jason Rullo hold the entire ship together with coils of rhythmic strength and percussive might while wisps of Jon Lord, Rick Wakeman,and Keith Emerson emanate from the subtle keyboards of Michael Pinnella.
In recent years I have grown weary of prog and power metal, but Symphony X have reawakened my passion for these corners of the metallic spectrum by intertwining them into one and composing songs within that framework that defy physics. I’ve been wondering if someone would come along and best Blind Guardian in 2002. Symphony X may have won this duel with elegant ferocity, mind-bending intelligence, frightening skill, and visionary imagination.
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