Symphony X - Paradise Lost
InsideOut Music
Progressive Metal
10 songs (61.00)
Release year: 2007
Symphony X, InsideOut Music
Reviewed by Aleksie
Album of the year
Again I must head down the gruesome trail of a quick song-by-song run-through. A tiring practise only reserved for albums I feel must be delved into very specifically – one that should be applied only to albums as awesome as Symphony X’s Paradise Lost.

From the magnificent packaging to the stellar production work everything on the exterior is done to perfection. The cover art gives a proper indication of the bleak and dark themes – both lyrical and musical – that the record is filled to the brim with. The four-way fold-out packaging that is my digipack-edition of this album is extraordinarily cool! This is how you fight piracy in my books, something special with even the packaging itself.

The players’ performances shine from Jason Rullo’s inhuman control of the skins to Michael Romeos mind-boggling guitar solos. The thing I really enjoy about Romeo’s solos is that even at top speeds he maintains a hook and melody in there. He certainly flashes but not only with his technique, an art that many speed-freak guitar players should try and master in my books.
I’m not sure if Russell Allen has been on a whiskey-n’-razorblades diet before the recordings but he is sounding downright evil on most of this album. When the moments are majestic or mellow, he croons as beautifully as ever, but with the heavy songs he snarls and gruffs unlike I’ve ever heard from him. He has definitely widened his range and it is working like a charm.

Yes, must go into the songs, the divine songs.

Oculus ex Inferni – An ominous prologue where an orchestra and a grand choir dominate the scene with guitars and drums punching with furious jabs. A textbook example of a song that could be called the calm before the storm. Little melodies that remind me greatly of Danny Elfman keep on growing and growing with mood swings here and there. The piece ends with a long note, which leads to

Set The World On Fire (The Lie Of Lies) – A quick rock tune with very technical riffage that we are used to from Mike Romeo. A killer chorus ensues that paints the picture of a choir of bearded men with swords and ale singing it to the heavens. I mean…a great live tune for sure, yeah!

Domination – HEAVY! Gsus, Michael Lepond rips a pulverizing bass intro that leads into a furious flurry of guitars and drums. Allen really lets it go snarly and malevolent with the vocals. A fast metal tune that should definitely get the pit going strong.

Serpent’s Kiss – Damn, the opening riff has a real Pantera-feel to it. The groove is insidious and how I am DIGGING it. This groovy element flows on many other songs on this record as well. It’s something I haven’t found that much on the band’s earlier material and I think it is a brilliant addition to the song material. Russell wails it up on the chorus to laugh at me for thinking that he’d gone all dark and gruff just because he couldn’t go high anymore. Shame on me! The heavenly choirs in the interlude mixed with the grooving riff makes for a hell of a mixture!

Paradise Lost – The title track is the first ballad on the album and a mighty one at that. Though some of the guitar melodies go close to the ones in Communion And The Oracle, the similarity only brings vibes of this other marvellous ballad onto this track. Acoustic axes and occasional bursts of electrics with soft distortion meld in seamlessly with the piano and Allen displays his equal supremacy on the front of emotional, low-key singing. The modulation for the last chorus lifts the song to heavenly heights.

Eve Of Seduction – A massive return to the rapid metal madness with a strong speed metal feeling going throughout the song. Romeo and keyboardist Michael Pinnella fight it off in bloody fashion on their instruments, be it in unison or trading finger-bending licks.

Walls Of Babylon – The name combined with the eerie, eastern-tinged intro recalls Rainbow’s Gates Of Babylon until slowly but surely a mid-paced monster riff rises from the sands of eternity accompanied by a war march-like gang of male voices, that then mix in with female chants, until starting to chug along with tempo changes and many wrist-cracking drum rolls. The moodchanges greatly remind me of Dream Theater, but when Russell open his jaws the comparisons end and pure Symphony X rolls effortlessly from the speakers.

Seven – Blistering leads start off what I call the official wankery-song of this album. The whole band plays every other metal band this side of Planet X into shame during the first minute and then speeds it up appropriately for hair to fly in insane patterns on the walls and rooftops.

The Sacrifice – Another beautiful ballad where Allen comes out swinging in full rose-scented tear-jerker mode (did I just write that harlequin-equalling atrocity of a sentence? Oh well, live n’ learn). It doesn’t quite rise to the majestic emotion of the title track, but beats every other four-minute love song made during this decade by the sole force of the subdued orchestras and Romeo’s lyrical, yet rocking solo. Romeo’s classical guitar exhibition in the end brings a nice medieval flavour to the song.

Revelation (Divus Pennae ex Tragoedia) – The name would let you to expect a grandiose, symphonic anthem in the vein of The Divine Wings Of Tragedy and you wouldn’t be completely off base thinking so. Clocking in at slightly over nine minutes, the tempo shifts are accompanied with orchestrations and more chilling choirs. For some reason the classically infused pianowork reminds me a lot of Mozart. An acoustic bridge section? Great and accounted for, sir! The chorus again envelops the mind to repeat the words in damning unison. The whole album really has infectious choruses and hooks down to pat. For all the virtuosity and flash the band lets forth, the basic powers of catchiness and memorability aren’t forgotten one bit.

The musical side on Paradise Lost is just so fabulous that haven’t really taken that much notes on the lyrical side, besides the points that it’s very dramatic, eternal battle of good n’ evil-type stuff. I’m thinking it has something to do with John Milton’s epic which bares the same title. I’ll have to advance a bit in my English studies to confirm the connection.

Overall, Paradise Lost is about the heaviest and darkest work Symphony X has ever done and it could just be the best. With this band it ain’t easy because there are just so many great ones in their catalogue. Needless to say, the fans of the band shouldn’t be disappointed and anyone looking for superior quality metal where just about everything locks into position, should own this album. Why are you still sitting there reading and wanking in the forums? Get up, stand up! Buy, buy, buy Symphony X’s Paradise Lost!

Killing Songs :
All of 'Em!
Aleksie quoted 98 / 100
Other albums by Symphony X that we have reviewed:
Symphony X - Underworld reviewed by Joel and quoted 92 / 100
Symphony X - Iconoclast reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 88 / 100
Symphony X - The Divine Wings of Tragedy reviewed by Boris and quoted 95 / 100
Symphony X - Twilight in Olympus reviewed by Boris and quoted 78 / 100
Symphony X - The Damnation Game reviewed by Boris and quoted 84 / 100
To see all 10 reviews click here
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