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The Odyssey

Inferno (Unleash The Fire)
Incantations of the Apprentice
Accolade II
King Of Terrors
The Turning
The Odyssey
Masquerade '98

2002 Inside Out Music

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Symphony X:
V: The New Mythology Suite (2000)
Prelude to the Millennium (1998)
Twilight in Olympus (1998)
More Symphony X!:
The Divine Wings of Tragedy (1997)
The Damnation Game (1995)
Symphony X (1994)


Inferno (Unleash the Fire).
This song starts off with a technical sounding riff by Romeo, (though in fact it isn't very difficult to play. It did, though, give a good impression the first time that I heard the album around November 2002. I am not partial to the main riff in this song; it sounds a little unlike Symphony X; a little cheesier than we are used to hearing from them. The same goes for the singing that accompanies the verse sections too. But the chorus is really rather good, (and it starts to feel that - as the band had decided - the album was to be a winter one and not a summer one; i.e. one to be released around winter time). The thing that holds the song together is really the quite technical riff of Romeo’s and the timing that accompanies it. Symphony X are at their most mentally stimulating to listen to when their use of timing is at its most interesting or technical.

This is similar in tone to the first song though has a slower pace - a little like an evil heartbeat slowly pumping away. The singing of Russell and the synthesis of the whole song really works well on this song. The chorus is very catchy - as are most of the choruses on The Odyssey - and is of the type that you will happily hum to yourself all day. There are no interesting solos to mention, and certainly not any with time changes or theme changes to accompany them as you will here in bygone Symphony X albums, and in this respect, Wicked doesn’t differ from Inferno. Romeo has probably never been a great solo maker, (I think that over Symphony X’s history it is Pinella that has produced the best solos). One way that this perfectly good song could have been made a class higher in artistic greatness would be to have had a technical solo out of theme and out of time with the main choruses and verses. Instead we get something [pleasant, but] too straightforward to really believe that Symphony X couldn’t produce something artistically better.

Incantations of the Apprentice.
This song is perhaps the best on The Odyssey. A musical theme runs through this album and one of the best manifestations of the theme is in this song. I visualise a forest in the night with wind howling between the tall trees. The slightly odd timing in the chorus where the vocals seem to clip off prematurely and start for a second time is very effective and helps to make the song one of the easiest to listen to and least ponderous of the album.

Accolade II.
I don’t like this song a great deal because I find that the main theme is somehow cheesy and unoriginal, though of course, Symphony X execute it better than virtually any other band could at the moment. Accolade II is really a heavy version of The Accolade, though the original song was intended as a ballad-like piece, (or fairly downbeat - though highfaluting - epic), and the metamorphosis of this light song into a louder and heavier song means that the hybrid isn’t as good as its original version - the song works better with its original intention. I really liked the introduction section the first couple of times that I heard it, (and I still find it nice but perhaps a little too brief), in which a bass playing that accompanies a subtle keyboard tune reminded me of a glacier when the sun is shining low and intensely. Then, to layer onto this composition, Romeo does one of his signature high-string chord accompaniments to the theme, which as ever is very effective. (For another example of Romeo using this method, listen to Shades of Grey from Symphony X’s first album). The timing alterations that Symphony X used on the verses of Accolade II are actually annoying when you have heard the original song, as the chorus seemed to sound the best on the original version of the song with their original timing. The chorus is sweaty and claustrophobic, and only good if you have a partner and choose this as your’ song, as it is just too stuffy otherwise. And I wouldn’t choose this for my song.

King of Terrors.
There is a dialogue section on this song and I thought from the outset that it sounded effective. I happened to be reading Edgar Allen Poe around the time that I bought the album and when reading The Pit and the Pendulum I realised that the words on King of Terrors were taken from there: “The inquisitorial vengeance had been hurried by my twofold escape, and there was to be no more dallying with the king of terrors”. Symphony X are an intelligent band, (at least they used to - and hopefully will continue to - write fairly intelligent worlds and music), and although it doesn’t indicate intelligence immediately, it is nice to see that some of the band members read. I don’t know if Le Pond is intelligent, or if Russell is, (I get the impression that he is a computer geek, and incidentally I would thus consider him not clever, and Allan, please don’t take any offence because I don’t consider you a computer geek; you can just do enough to give a good home to these reviews). I don’t know if Rullo is intelligent but I think that he might not be too stupid considering he appreciates jazz music, and is such a technically accomplished drummer. But again, the former probably is no indication of intelligence really, (it just alone isn’t enough to indicate unintelligence), though the latter would probably have to indicate some sort of intelligence, unless Rullo is a virtuoso but stupid intellectually. Romeo seems as though he isn’t too stupid, so we can probably rely on him keeping the band intellectually satisfactory. So overall I have hope that Symphony X aren’t a stupid band, but I wouldn’t guess at them being particularly intelligent. are studying a first group theory module. The

In a way I wish that the song was called Turing because just the other day in the canteen a friend of mind said that calculators weren’t introduced into Russia until the 1980’s and that he was one of the first to get a calculator out of all of the people he knew. He said that it was a very primitive model of calculator and I suggested that it might have been a Turing machine. The song is the weakest on the album and hence warranted not necessarily having the most relevant introduction to my discussion about it. The chorus sounds at best like a sped-up Nirvana chorus, (which I claim is a bad thing), though it isn’t really that poor. Perhaps I got the feeling after the song that I had forgotten what I had just been listening to that it had put no images into my head. I would consider someone either clinically insane or to have a very particular purpose if they searched through their CD collection to find The Odyssey specifically to play Turning. I think that it would be more fun to even play some archaic pastime that our grandparents may have played in their youths to pass the long boring days. That was, I suppose, something of an arbitrary comment, but I emphasise that this song is perhaps the weakest on the album and is weaker than almost any Symphony X song in history. I think that the new bass player, Le Pond, is responsible for this. I think that Thomas Miller was probably a romantic kind of songwriter whereas it seems that Le Pond’s main musical influences are from the banal heavy metal field, (what did Symphony X do to their bass player Thomas Miller? He was brilliant and did great things for the sound of Symphony X).

This not a bad song, but I would like to leave it at that.

I don’t have much enthusiasm to talk about this song much. The introduction is an orchestral part made by Romeo that I would only really want to hear once, though I think that it is quite good for what it is. The song then only slowly builds up with some trite lyrics by Russell. I would have preferred the lyrics in general in the song to be much more intelligent seeing as the song tries to portray Homer’s The Odyssey. I read the book in the summer and I would say that Symphony X don’t even scratch the surface in trying to portray the epic.

Masquerade [bonus track].
This is certainly not as good as the original recording of Masquerade from the Symphony X album. Russell’s voice may be classically more typical than that of the singer in Symphony X’s first album, but the latter made songs like Masquerade work perfectly. The sound of this song is as though it has been recorded a lot less professionally than the other on the album, but I suppose that it is nice and sound a little more like a personal recording, so is the sort of thing that a fan of Symphony X’s buying this limited edition version of the album might be happy with.


In my opinion the best music of Symphony X was that when Thomas Miller was the bass player, (and a major song contributer). A certain subtlety in their style when Miller was in the band left with him, though it doesn't mean that Symphony X were left as a band that aren't great; they just can't really be as great as when Thomas Miller was in the band, (in fact I would love to track down some of his music but I haven't heard a word spoken of him anywhere and have no idea if he is still alive or still making music), and The Odyssey is the ripened album of the new lineup. The Odyssey is in less ornate than the album before it, (V), and less ornate than other earlier albums, and the songs are generally simpler. Some of the atmosphere created is very effective, such as in songs like "Incantations of the Apprentice". The solos by Pinella and Romeo are no better than before and there is a void of any really good solos, (I have never considered Michael Romeo a good soloist, (that doesn't include his instrumental work), and the solos on The Odyssey [album] are not very variegated and not memorable. I expected the band to get lower reviews for the album because of its greater simplicity in contrast to other albums of theirs, but I suppose that they must have succeeded in making themselves more marketable and in getting a larger pool of less intelligent liteners. I think that Michael Romeo has still got a great future and may become the first successful shredder turned composer if that is the direction in which he wishes to head one day, and of course Russell Allen can do whatever he wants in the future, having one of the most classically perfect voices around as far as I can tell. The Odyssey is not a rewarding album in the long run for any Symphony X fans who appreciate every detail put into a Symphony X song. The final song, "The Odyssey", is not actually that good an epic. There aren't enough sections to make the song feel like a varied enough epic given the 'novel' attributed to Homer that it pretences to portray, and the beginning and end ballard sections are too corny, the vocals not clever enough.

Rating: 6.8

Best songs: Incantations of the Apprentice.
Worst songs: Turning.
Intelligence of lyrics: Fairly low.

Review by Edd-

copyright Edward G. Davies 2004

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