It's not really a secret that I don't like the majority of the Power/Progressive Metal genre. The few bands that I do like are BLIND GUARDIAN, DREAM THEATER and SYMPHONY X. That last band impressed me with their last works, "Twilight In Olympus", "V (The Mythology Suite)" and the live album "Live On The Edge Of Forever". On their current epos the band covers the legend of Odysseus, and the album is called "The Odyssey".
The skills of each of the band members of SYMPHONY X are leagues above average, with guitarist Michael Romeo flying over the strings, the progressive beauty of drummer Jason Rullo and bass player Mike Lepond, and the enchanting play of keyboard/piano player Michael Pinella. But essential in this Metal genre are good vocals, and if anyone can carry the title of outstanding vocalist it has to be Sir Russell Allen. His vocal style is the perfect complement to the technical endeavours of the other band members.
In that way, opening track "Inferno (Unleash The Fire)", and also a song like "The Turning", are logical sequels to the very technical material that could be heard on the previous SYMPHONY X album, "V (The Mythology Suite)". But on the remainder of the album the powerful song structures have been prioritised rather than high-flying musical escapades. Russell Allen also adds a new dimension to his contribution, with a much darker vocal approach at times. In fact, the entire album is much darker than the previous work of SYMPHONY X, but that is probably due to the more chord-based melodies, that always sound a bit darker than very melodic riffs. A fine example of the darker sound is "King Of Terrors", one of the best tracks of the album, and ever recorded by the band. The contrast with the ballad "Accolade II" is huge, as the latter has a much more romantic approach, with beautiful piano play, and downright brilliant vocal lines. But this inner schizophrenia is best displayed in the colossal track "The Odyssey", clocking over 24 minutes! At no moment there is a feeling of boredom, as the dynamics in the song make it one of the grandest projects. Those three songs I just mentioned are definite highlights of "The Odyssey", and alone reason enough to buy this album, even though the other material on this album is also top class. But I don't want to get people on the wrong track with a mentioned change of style, this fortunately is very much a SYMPHONY X album.
If you like the previous albums done by SYMPHONY X you have no excuse to not own this album yet… And for everyone else, give this band a chance, they are one of the most impressing collections of musicians in Metal existence, and they know how to make fantastic music! Join "The Odyssey"! (Online January 14, 2002)