Symphony X - Symphony X review


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Band: Symphony X
Album: Symphony X
Release date: 1994

01. Into The Dementia
02. The Raging Season
03. Premonition
04. Masquerade
05. Absinthe And Rue
06. Shades Of Grey
07. Taunting The Notorious
08. Rapture Or Pain
09. Thorns Of Sorrow
10. A Lesson Before Dying
11. Enhanced Element (features Screensaver and Band Interview Part I) [special edition bonus]

Back to the humble roots of one of the greatest progressive metal bands of all time with their self titled debut. I would love to say that they started off with a bang and a great album, but they did not, not by a long shot. To put this mildly, it's bad; listening to this whole album enough times to write a review was not a fun experience. The instrumentation is actually pretty good; Romeo plays really well (though not as well as he would in the next couple of years), the drumming is complex with some fresh and different beats, the keyboards are fine, and everything is tight. Why did I say this was bad, you ask? Well, there are two reasons: the singer and the production. They are just awful, plus the songs and songwriting aren't that great. The production sounds really muted and just generally awful; it really affects the drums because it makes them sound really hollow and they deliver no punch at all. The singer sounds like he has some nasal problems; I have no idea what made Romeo think this guy could sing when this band started, but he really cannot (his name is Rod Tyler for anyone that cares). He is off key so many times and he just sounds bad; he is the main reason this album is basically unlistenable, though I think this album could have some potential if they re-recorded it now. Also, the songs are also pretty boring for the most part, the "heavy and intense" opener "The Raging Seasons" is just not enjoyable at all and the epic is boring and longer than necessary.

There are some decent songs on this, "Masquerade", "Absinthe and Rue" and "Taunting the Notorious" are all decent songs, though Tyler ruins them. When I say decent, I mean "even remotely listenable"; there really is no reason to listen to them unless you really want to for some reason. The re-recorded version of "Masquerade" (Masquerade 98) is actually pretty good, mostly because Allen is singing it, but whatever. Even in places where Tyler doesn't completely wreck it (which are rare), the production ruins it instead. Honestly, it sounds more like a demo somebody recorded in their basement than an actual album. While the playing sounds tight for the most part, it seems unimaginative to me, even compared to their next album. I prefer not to give albums the "it's their debut album excuse" so I won't start now. "Masquerade" is definitely the most memorable track on this, though only because it has the catchiest chorus and some of the more memorable riffs of the whole album; even the other songs that I mentioned as "highlights" aren't very memorable.

To some I may seem a little unfair to this album and for those of you who do find it listenable then by all means go ahead and listen to it, but personally I just can't get past the vocalist or the production. The songwriting, production and the songs themselves are all incredibly inferior to that of Damnation Game, they do nothing to set themselves apart which only hurts this album - already containing a multitude of additional problems. While they may be similar in feel and in instrumentation to the the next album, the singing is much improved (on Damnation Game) and the songs just feel so much better written. I really had a hard time listening to Symphony X and I can't bring myself to recommend this to anyone.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 3
Songwriting: 2
Originality: 2
Production: 2

Written by IanYeara | 01.04.2013


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

Staff review by
Demonic Tutor
The first album of that amazing band is for sure the worst album I have ever heard in that kind of music. Even if the bases are almost here, musically, the vocals are awful and all the choruses sound like Queen gone bad. You easily understand why they have fired that singer! We all have to start somewhere but here Symphony X was on the wrong track.

published 22.09.2003 | Comments (22)


Comments: 8   Visited by: 159 users
01.04.2013 - 23:11
R Lewis
That Useless Guy
Ugh. I agree on the fact that this is not a good album - expecially if compared with their amazing discography - but 2 is far too low. It's lower than Lulu!
We could be so much more than we are. Stop.
02.04.2013 - 01:54
Harsh man that's all I got to say
02.04.2013 - 03:16
This is just way to harsh. The album was really good IMO, side from the vocals and production. I wish they made more songs like these, unlike this overly heavy compared to prog direction the band has taken with recent releases.
02.04.2013 - 18:44
Erotic Stains
Absolutely not too harsh at all, this is an awful album. I completely agree with the review, except for the "there are some decent songs on this". No. There is not. Maybe a good riff here and there, but no more.

But I do no hate the album. After all, it has given me and my friends a lot of laughter during the years.
06.04.2013 - 04:43
Really? I absolutely love some songs from this album. Shades of Grey, Absinthe and Rue, (especially) Rapture or Pain, and A Lesson Before Dying. I think they are a pretty and nice escape from the heavier tones of their newer albums, although I absolutely love them more.

This review is just ridiculous. =/
06.04.2013 - 04:49
Let me just say that a 2 is not too low. In fact it's too high. Despite Symphony X being my favorite band I absolutely despise this album and generally like to pretend that it doesn't exist.
13.05.2013 - 23:50
This review is way off IMO if you're any kind of progressive metal or X fan. This album is a classic, while the production quality and vocals are lacking the guitars, drums, and songwriting make up for it. This reminds me of albums like Iced Earth's ST which often gets bad reviews but ones you find yourself listening to over and over again, a classic sound in a crappy studio that can never be re-produced.
27.05.2013 - 08:22
Ladies and gentlemen, scores are irrelevant, the review is what's important, even though I thought elements of it were good, it's still not good enough to warrant anything over a 2.

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