Symphony X - The odyssey 4/5

Reviewed: 6-10-05


1. Inferno (unleash the fire)
2. Wicked
3. Incantations of the apprentice
4. Accolade ll
5. King of terrors
6. The turning
7. Awakenings
8. The odyssey
Part l - Odysseus' theme/Overture
Part ll - Journey to Ithaca
Part lll - The eye
Part lV - Circe (Daughter of the sun)
Part V - Sirens
Part Vl - Scylla and Charybdis
Part Vl - The fate of the suitors/Champion of Ithaca
9. Masquerade (bonus track)

As is typical with Symphony X, this CD contains many similarities to their previous work, and yet, bears striking differences too. The basic sound remains the same, with guitarist Michael Romeo's melodic and chugging riffs combined with Russell Allen's powerful baritone voice. This time out, however, it is a less melodic approach with less noticeable keyboards and Allen using a much gruffer voice (on several tracks) than in the past.

The first 7 tracks are all a build–up to the almost 25 minute title epic. Of those first 7, the one that gets the most attention is "Accolade ll", a continuation of "The accolade" from the excellent 'The divine wings of tragedy' CD. This track is quite soft and does not hit the high point of the original but is still an excellent, hypnotic track in its own right. The other tracks are split between the melodic pieces like "Inferno", "King of terrors", and "Awakening" and the less melodic, chugging, powerful tracks which comprise the rest. While I personally prefer the melodic side of Symphony X, all of these tracks are excellent for what they try to accomplish. Clearly the centerpiece of the CD is the epic title–track. As you would expect from such a long track, there are several distinct pieces that could easily have been broken into several individual tracks. The opening overture truly sounds like it could have been from a movie soundtrack. This is followed by a slow part which has a strong Kansas feel to it. After some typical–sounding Symphony X, the finale sounds much like Rainbow; in fact, the main melody sounds a little too much like Rainbow's "Sea of dreams" for my liking. While the vocal melodies are good on this track, its high points are the dynamic instrumental pieces. This title–track is excellent but still cannot match up to the amazing title–track from 'The divine wings of tragedy’. Despite not reaching that lofty status, almost any band would be proud to call this track the highlight of their career, which is a statement to how good Symphony X is.

This CD is notable by the many similarities combined with the many differences from previous Symphony X releases. It is less melodic, more crunchy, and features gruffer vocals, with very few of the chorus–type vocals that were sometimes prevalent in the past; yet, it immediately and without doubt sounds like Symphony X. While this is not my favorite Symphony X CD, it is still an upper echelon CD that any metal fan will enjoy and needs to own.




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