Symphony X - _V_
(Metal Blade, 2000)
by: Brian Meloon (
Symphony X return with their aptly titled fifth full-length album (well, sixth if you count the greatest hits comp _Prelude to the Millennium_), and it proves to be their strongest effort yet. While their previous albums were more song-based, this one flows from song to song as one continuous work. This allows the band more freedom in contrasting motives and ideas between songs, and allows them to move away from standard song structures. In fact, about half of the songs are more like instrumental interludes or introductions than "real" songs, but they're often much more than simple keyboard pieces. The band's style hasn't changed very much since their debut; all of the Yngwie-isms and Egyptian references you'd expect are still there. But they've expanded their influences a little bit, including influences from the likes of Kansas, (symphonic) movie soundtracks, and some classical piano (Chopin, e.g.). I even hear some parts which remind me of a less over-the-top Bal Sagoth. As you'd expect, the production is great, the playing is excellent, and the vocals are great. Even more impressive is the restraint shown by the band members in playing what's appropriate instead of showing off. While there is no sparsity of flashy playing, it doesn't dominate the disc either. Perhaps the lyrics could be a little better, but other than that, it's really hard to find a weakness in this album. Fans of the band's previous works should enjoy this, as should most other fans of progressive metal.
(article published 25/10/2000)
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