Symphony X - _The Divine Wings of Tragedy_
(Inside Out, 1997)
by: Brian Meloon (
As a one-line description of this album, I'll offer: "Nevermore plays Dream Theater with touches of Malmsteen." If that hasn't scared you off yet, I'll elaborate: The general tone is standard progressive metal, with some long compositions, some standard song structures, and numerous neo-classical sections. The music is comparable in heaviness to Nevermore, with medium-fast music and melodic singing. The longer songs show some obvious Dream Theater influences, both in style and arrangements, most notably the nearly 21-minute title track. As with their previous album, _The Damnation Game_, there are a number of obvious nods to Malmsteen's (entire) career, including a vocal melody that was lifted from "Don't Let It End" (from _Marching Out_). There are even a few choral parts, which are reminiscent of Queen, yet work surprisingly well in their contexts. The production is good: slightly raw, but clear and powerful. The musicianship is good all around. The drums and bass are solid, the keyboards are mostly non-intrusive and appropriate, and the guitar work is great. There are also a lot of solos, both keyboard and guitar, often trading off in true Rising Force style. Unfortunately, while Michael Romeo is an excellent guitar player, he's only an average soloist, and many of his solos don't blend in smoothly with the rest of the song. The keyboard solos are usually impressive and appropriate, though. The vocals are excellent: The singer has a solid voice, and an excellent range, sounding at times like Dio (singing for Sabbath), and at others softer and more typical progmetal-like. Overall, this is a fine release, somewhat lacking in originality, but more than adequate in diversity and technical ability.
(article published 8/12/1997)
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