Symphony X - The Damnation Game
InsideOut Music
Progressive Metal
9 songs (46:25)
Release year: 1995
Symphony X, InsideOut Music
Reviewed by Boris
Archive review

The Damnation Game is Symphony X's sophomore effort coming just one year after their self-titled album, but I consider it their debut for several reasons. This album is the first to feature the most familiar and prolific lineup of the band, with Russell Allen replacing Rod Tyler on vocals. This is also the first album where the neoclassical progressively tinged power metal that this band is famous for can be heard.

The title track opens up the album with some fast sweeping licks on guitar over a cool background of keyboards, bass and drums. This song is reminiscent of the song Smoke and Mirrors, but in my opinon, this is simpler and better. From the very first note Russell Allen sings, you can tell that this is going to be a record full of awesome metal vocal performance. Both the vocal melodies for the verse and chorus are very aggressive, in-your-face melodies, and the song remains speedy for its entirety. The next song, Dressed to Kill is more like a lot of the songs found on the Divine Wings of Tragedy album, chugging along at a relatively fast pace as Russell Allen showcases even more tones to his voice. The solo section features some cool interplay between Michael Romeo and Michael Pinnella, a facet of the band that has become somewhat a trademark.

The third track, The Edge of Forever , is my favorite Symphony X song of all time (well thus far anyway). It starts off with some nice clean arpeggios by Michael Romeo and after some self-indulgent instrumental sections (ones that don't get boring though), Russell starts singing along to a really cool, eerie piano melody. In my opinion, this song is the perfect example of a Symphony X song. It's got awesome instrumental passages that include melodic neoclassical soloing on both guitar and piano; its got speedier sections intertwined with beautiful acoustic piano parts; most importantly, its got Russell Allen singing first in an airy sort of tone, then a somewhat raspy lower voice, and then he lets loose with his super clear majestic voice. The melodies are all really infectious, and the lyrics, although cheesy (what power-metal lyrics aren't?) are not overly so.

After the giant that is the third song, the album meets the high standard set for it for a while. Savage Curtain and Secrets are faster paced tracks along the line of In the Dragon's Den from the Twilight in Olympus album, but better. Secrets also has a cool drum intro making it a worthy opening song back in those days. Whispers is a godly ballad featuring some very odd soloing from Michael Romeo and some beautiful vocal melodies. The second verse is especially emotional, much to my liking. The Haunting is a decent track with a title cooler than the actual song. This could've been on the self-titled album, because apart from Russell's vocals, it's a pretty boring song. The album closes with the two-part A Winter's Dream , a song that could've either been left of the album completely or shortened to about 5 minutes, instead of its 9 minute running time. So I guess the band hadn't yet perfected their craft in writing ultra-long songs, but that would come soon since the next album is the classic Divine Wings. Luckily, this is the last track so I can enjoy the rest of the album and just turn it off when this comes on.

In hindsight, this is probably my second-favorite Symphony X album because its one where I feel there are almost no filler tracks, and I personally enjoy the shorter songs over the 20-minute epics (not that those are bad either). It's also the album where you can very clearly hear the origins of what they would become later in their career without being significantly worse than them. Its very fortunate that this album came just one year after the debacle that was their debut, because after that album, it's very fortunate that they had the opportunity to continue their career.

Killing Songs :
Damnation Game, Dressed to Kill, The Edge of Forever, Savage Curtain, Secrets, Whispers
Boris quoted 84 / 100
Aleksie quoted 83 / 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 - Symphony X reviewed by Boris and quoted 68 / 100
To see all 10 reviews click here
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