"The Damnation Game" was a pretty good album, but this one absolutely smokes and reeks of Power/Prog perfection, honestly it's one of the best albums of the Nineties. Also, the album is considered the band's finest hour and let's face it, when you have dozens of immortal song's like "Sea Of Lies", "Of Sins And Shadows", "The Accolade", "Pharaoh" and the grand, over the top title track which clocks at almost twenty one minutes, it does seem like a fair statement.
The album is heavier but also more symphonic at the same time, the two factors are equally balanced. The guitars are pumped up heavily with a Thrash sound not far from fellow countrymen PANTERA, which makes a song like the vicious opener "Of Sins And Shadows" sound like a symphonic Thrash Metal song instead of Power Metal. Progressive inputs are everywhere, especially within the stunning heroic tale of "The Accolade" and the title track of course, every instrument is given a small space to show their range and technical worth. "Eyes Of Medusa" experiments with soundtrack compositions by placing an atmospheric instrumental part in the middle and is one of my absolute favourite SYMPHONY X tracks of all time.
Classical lead playing dominates song's like "Out Of The Ashes" and "The Witching Hour" where you get at least 12.032 (counting not reliable) leads both keyboards and guitar. The line-up from "The Damnation Game" remains intact and we all know they play their instruments with perfection. Russell Allen deserves special praise, he's not confined to sing in only two tones or what have you. He has a wide range, his hymnal choir vocals in the beginning of the title track are unmatched and clearly show what he's capable of and in the chorus of "Pharaoh" he tries to sing in a more threatening way which will send chills down your spine.
The sound is improved, it's much heavier and has more punch which is needed in order to capture the real feel of such strong material. In case you didn't notice, "The Divine Wings Of Tragedy" is a work of art in every aspect and fans of hard hitting, Symphonic Power Metal with DREAM THEATER Prog influences and brilliant vocals should buy it. (Online January 25, 2004)