Symphony X is a band who likely needs no introduction to the majority of our readers, but they’re a highly respected metal band of the progressive persuasion out of New Jersey. Not counting this newest release Iconoclast, they’ve got seven studio releases. But does the eighth album by these metallers from Middletown live up to their esteemed reputation?
I’m glad to say that it certainly does, and interestingly it appears the band has very slightly shifted directions to a more guitar-driven, sometimes-less-symphonic sound. This is especially apparent in tracks like “Bastards of the Machine” and “Heretic”. However, this doesn’t mean the music is without it’s absolutely epic, symphonic moments to spice things up, especially with the opening track, which is still mind-blowingly anthemic even despite its length.
Other tracks switch things up a bit, like “Children of a Faceless God”, which starts out as a relatively simple-sounding, very sad track that slowly turns darker and more technical, and ends on notes that seem angry rather than sad. Thematically, “The End of Innocence” and “Electric Messiah” summarize the album quite well, being about technology precipitating the downfall of humanity.
Symphony X also seems to be showing a bit more of their classic metal influences, with “Dehumanized” having some moments of very downtuned, almost thrashy guitar riffs and some moments where vocalist Russell Allen seems to be channeling the late Ronnie James Dio, and many of the other tracks have this vibe as well. I have to commend the band for managing to show this influence without sounding like they’re rehashing ancient history, and still having their own spin on things.
Production-wise the album is absolutely perfect, with the heavier tracks having the right amount of distortion to show off guitarist Michael Romeo’s skills playing man different styles of metal as well as letting the more symphonic moments through clearly.
At the end of the day, Symphony X fans have an absolutely phenomenal release on their hands with this album. There may be some naysayers on the slightly new direction the band seems headed in, but honestly a fan like me can’t see how this wouldn’t grow on even the staunchest of naysayers.