SYMPHONY X is one of the world’s premier Metal bands in my opinion and I’m sure many will nod their heads to that. The band always had the potential and talent to go far, but the real magic begins at the second release entitled “The Damnation Game”, by the simple fact that Russell Allen joins the band.
Upon my first listen I felt a bit perplexed. I didn’t think it matched the excellence of “The Divine…” album (which was my first outing with the band); it took me five spins or so before my opinion changed. Musically “The Damnation Game” can be filed under Progressive, Heavy and Symphonic Power Metal, the songs contain all the trademarks; classical and sometimes medieval keyboards, show off guitar playing, pounding drums, slick bass guitars and emotional vocals.
There are fast songs like the opening title track and “Dressed To Kill” sure to please any Power Metal fan yet they have those intricate fills and odd percussion works the band does so well. The band has a darker edge than most Prog/Power Metal bands, which can be heard on a track like “The Haunting”.
A wise man once claimed that a SYMPHONY X album would be incomplete without an epic masterpiece. True! The band has written some amazing epic songs during their career that leave a special feel of achievement. “The Edge Of Forever” is this albums epic masterpiece, has to be heard to be believed and both parts of “A Winter’s Dream” are two more Prog/Power Metal gems to treasure.
Needless to say the songwriting is very good and always focuses on making the song interesting and varied. As for the players involved, well, you have a very professional and accomplished line-up and bringing Russell Allen into the bands fold was a very fortunate and positive move. Michael Romeo and Michael Pinnella share the same passion and playing technique and that’s why they function so well together in the solos.
The sound is good, the only flaw I can think of is that the guitars are too distant in some places, which was well corrected on the next album. Those who like their Metal progressive, fast and technical should place their money here; I don’t think that you’ll be disappointed. (Online May 9, 2004)