Sound: If you have heard any Symphony X songs, then you know that the songs sound crystal clear. The choir, guitar, keyboard all blend wonderfully to create a melodic, head banging atmostphere. The singer's voice, Russell Allen, is always at the perfect pitch and volume; it perfectly complements the instruments. Now, with the technical aspect of the sound done, let us move onto the actual music itself. I am not lying when I say the music is simply incredible. Each song is flowing with musicianship. Think of it as Mozart fused with metal.
01. Prelude - this song is just that, a prelude to the what's about to come. It is an incredibly catchy and melodic 1:08 long tune with a choir, and what appears to be an orchestra. The horns, violins, drums, and distorted guitar sound perfect together 10/10.
02. Evolution (Grand Design) - I can't explain it but I simply love this song. The signature angelic voices are here and the opening riff by Michael Romeo is very catchy. What I think really makes this song differ from the others is the masterful keyboard work by Michael Pinnella, and the simply devine singing by Russell Allen. The chorus is the best chorus in any song this year; the way its sung is just unparalleled. It gives me an unexplained thrill just hearing it. Of course, 3:20 minutes into the song we get the Yngwie Malmsteen-esque solo by Romeo. I heard it live at Gigantour 2005 at Irvine and I was blown away (Russell Allen was playing air guitar) 10/10.
03. Fallen - a very very good song, if not overshadowed by the brilliance of the previous track. I love the opening acoustic line and the solos by Romeo are good as always. And the keyboard work here is top notch again, I cannot stress how much the keyboards add to Symphony X's sound. I love how the riff utilizes pinch harmonics. The end of the sound is beautiful as well 9/10.
04. Transcendence (Segue) - a 38 second long composition which could have easily been put into a Star Wars film, short animation clip, Lord Of The Rings movie. Very nice but short composition. Have to acknowledge the musicianship 10/10.
05. Communion And The Oracle - much slower and more melodic than the rest and at first sounds more like elevator music. Then the singing comes in, along with the simple guitar riffs, the piano, and you get blown away. Russell Allen's amazing singing makes this song what it is. Romeo's amazing solo in the middle puts this song at another level. However, it is a little too slow, with not enough keyboard or bass work. If it was on any other band's album though, it would've been the best song there 9/10.
06. The Bird-Serpent War/Cataclysm - not up to par with the rest of the album. Straight up metal riffs and soloing. I don't know listen and decide for yourself. For me, it was nothing special but still something I would listen to and not skip 7.5/10.
07. The Breathe Of Poseidon - another wonderful, all instrumental work by the band. The orchestra puts on a good show, with the horns, violins, harp working together beautifully. The guitar work is good too. A very good track to listen to. I love the drum work here too. It puts this instrumental on another level. Symphony X really knows how to mix classical with metal 10/10.
08. Egypt - lovely track. I love how they have an egyptian flavor to this track. Another top-notch performance by Russell Allen. The chorus is very soothing to listen to. It is just a great track and I cannot put it into words. Just imagine Aladdin, sands, swords, angelic voices, Egypt, Kings, and gold. One of my favorite tracks 10/10.
09. The Death Of Balance/Lacrymosa - another instrumental. Again, a very classically influenced track. It starts off with piano, acoustic guitar, harps, you name it. Then the amazing riffing by Romeo comes in. Then midway through the track Lacrymosa by Mozart comes in and its the perfect ending to the song. And although it has no words, you can sense sadness and pain 10/10.
10. Absence Of Light - you think that after listening to all of these songs (many of them over 5 minutes) you would get sick of it by now. But nope, they throw something else at you, that is completely different from the previous track. Only Symphony X can put Mozart in one song and immediately after give you something in the vain of Iron Maiden or Metallica. A very heavy track, with DimeBag Darrell (RIP) style riffing going on and Russell showing how high pitched he can sing. Very fun to listen to 9/10.
11. A Fool's Paradise - standard Symphony X stuff here. In other words, lots of Yngwie Malmsteen style solos, pinch harmonic riffs, piano. Too many instruments going on at once to name them all! This could have easily been thrown into a Castlevania game (most Symphony X songs could) 9/10.
12. Rediscovery (Segue) - another instrumental. Short at 1:25. More of a prelude to the next song 9/10.
13. Rediscovery Part II - get ready for a very long song, at 12 minutes. I am not going to say anything about this one, you're going to have to buy it to listen to this masterpeice. Possibly the best song on the album. All I will say is that it utilizes all the styles of the previous 12 tracks 10/10. // 10
Lyrics: Typical Symphony X stuff here. Swords, serpents, prophets, sages, magic, Orion. The lyrics aren't important here but it really does add an interesting tone to the music. I would personally prefer to listen to these types of lyrics instead of the typical screaming of metal bands. This album, the new mythology, can be considered a historical album of some sorts, it mentions mythological creatures, and events. // 10
Overall Impression: This is as close to a perfect album as you can get in the progressive, neo-classical genre. I heard them at Gigantour 2005, Irvine CA concert. They are amazing live, and they are overall just great guys and a great band. They deserve way more praise then they get. If you are reading this, please give this album a try. You won't be disappointed. // 10