Symphony X began standing out from the generic progressive metal field a few years back with The Divine Wings of Tragedy, in which the esoteric group accomplished a landmark in their evolution as a band. And twelve years after the group reached their first milestone, Symphony X has returned with the classic Paradise Lost to further their sound even more. With evolution on their side, Symphony X drives an epic stab of golden progressive metal through the boundaries of what musical convention, but the squad still manages to remain deeply original and surprisingly fun with Paradise Lost.
So what makes Paradise Lost so special? For one, they've added a boatload of heavier elements and have established an independent front with Michael Romeo's riffing leading the pack. Romeo's riffing show has evolved into a relentless performance of hammering grooves, turbo-charged licks, and some of his best solos to date. Also, Jason Rullo is finally allowed to show off his total ability as the charismatic drummer dishes out crazy fills and terrific percussion coordination involving technical patterns and lots of double-bass. It's heavier, faster, riskier, and better than anything Symphony X has ever done before.
Symphony X has always demonstrated they were an evolving act that changed with each and every release; Paradise Lost is no exception to this continuing evolution. The most obvious change occurred with Russell Allen's vocals, in which the powerful singer exercises a deep alteration between his beautiful singing style and newly-acquired harsh barks. He also does a fantastic job matching the tone of Romeo's riffs, whether it's high vocals walking hand-in-hand with blazing riffing, or an aggressive-toned picnic with some groovy mid-paced chops. The group's overall song-writing structure is set on a heavy-built base of fast and power riffing with shreds of progressive atmosphere lying throughout the choruses of each song. Also, the album's ballads are huge examples of improvement compared to Symphony X's previous soft material, which leads to a comfortable transition between heaviness and beauty. This isn't some low-rate performance, because Symphony X is still breaking musical barriers while keeping their basic roots in sight.
Several progressive metal bands have forged great records, but few releases can match the power and creativity of Paradise Lost. Everything that merits the epic label is alive and well, and it's safe to say our American buddies made sure they produced quality music; it did take five years, but it was definitely worth the wait. Paradise Lost is certainly the best Symphony X record since Twilight in Olympus and an essential grab for prog-fans and metalheads alike.
Symphony X's Paradise Lost::
1. Oculus ex Inferni
2. Set the World on Fire
4. The Serpent's Kiss
5. Paradise Lost
6. Eve of Seduction
7. Walls of Babylon
9. The Sacrifice
10. Revelation (Divus Pennae ex Tragoedia)