Symphony X return after 5 years with the highly anticipated “Paradise Lost” which many fans hoped would see the band return somewhat to their classic “Damnation Game”/”Divine Wings Of Tragedy” sound. It more or less goes without saying that the bands rapid fans will buy this regardless of what critics say so this review is aimed more for the un-initiated. Simply said Symphony X have proved over the last decade or so that they are one of the best bands in the progressive metal genre and “Paradise Lost” is an excellent starting point for anyone yet to sample the bands brand of metal. Gloriously pompous with lush orchestral keyboards arrangements by Michael Pinella, sublime guitar riffs and solos from one of Metal’s best players in Michael Romeo, a superb rhythm section of drummer Jason Rullo and bassist Michael Anthony LePond all topped off with arguably one of metals best vocalists since Ronnie James Dio in Russell Allen.
Instrumental opener “Oculus ex Inferni” is complex and film score like before “Set The World On Fire (The Lie of Lies” comes hurtling out the gates of hell with an intensity and purpose that it totally satisfying. “Domination” begins with a complex bass guitar part which is then backed up Romeo and crew and it’s another all round sonic delivery with massive riffs, soaring vocals and a tightness rarely heard – this is metal with spirit and a highlight. “The Serpents Kiss” repeats the previous tracks overall hugeness with its scolding main riff yet the band allow melody to also shine in tandem. The title track “Paradise Lost” is another in the line of magical Symphony X compositions that the band throw into nearly every album which is a very special own brand of melodic progressive with numerous sections and beautiful melody which grows as it progresses and Russell Allen’s vocals are truly mesmerising. “Eve Of Seduction” sees the band work through some complex instrumental patterns before another manic riff which even Pantera fans would get a massive kick out of. “The Walls Of Babylon” is complex in arrangement yet quite digestible thanks to one of Allen’s best vocals on the album and its a definite highlight with all the Symphony X ingredients here in abundance. “Seven” sees some neo-classical inflections which is sure to please fans of the bands earlier releases. Here Romeo’s guitar and Pinella’s keyboards are unleashed to dramatic effect before Michael Anthony LePond lays downs a complex bass line, Romeo surprisingly delivers a very short and relatively simple solo before launching back into the main riff. “The Sacrifice” sees the band return to grand epic majestic tone which again is a sheer sonic treat in all respects and another vocal master display from Allen. “Revelation (Divus Pennae Ex Tragoedia)” ends the album on a definite high with a riff count high enough to win gold medal at the riff Olympics, yet luckily this is also backed up by more delicious melodies all topped with a grandiose extended middle instrumental section where each band member shines.
With “Paradise Lost”, Symphony X has made the album many fans felt they needed to make. After 2 relatively ordinary albums (by their own standards) with “The Odyssey” and “V: The New Mythology Suite” this new work seems them return to the quality heard on their classic earlier albums yet with the best elements from the aforementioned “Odyssey/New Mythology”. Simply said the wait has been worth it and this is an essential purchase for long-term fans and newbie’s alike. Welcome back.
RATING – 94%
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