Symphony X - The Odyssey review


787 users:
Band: Symphony X
Album: The Odyssey
Release date: 2002

01. Inferno (Unleash The Fire)
02. Wicked
03. Incantations Of The Apprentice
04. Accolade II
05. Kings Of Terrors
06. The Turning
07. Awakenings
08. The Odyssey
    1 - Part I: Odysseus Theme / Overture
    2 - Part II: Journey To Ithaca
    3 - Part III: The Eye
    4 - Part IV: Circe (Daughter Of The Sun)
    5 - Part V: Sirens
    6 - Part VI: Scylla And Charybdis
    7 - Part VII: The Fate Of The Suitors / Champion Of Ithaca
09. Masquerade '98 [Japanese and limited edition bonus]
10. Frontiers [Japanese bonus]

There is an undeniable affinity among many metal fans and musicians for things fantastic and medieval in nature. From the imagery (costumes, album covers), to the instrumentation and style of the music (folk, symphonic), to the lyrical subject matter, the metal community is enamored with things ancient. Many musicians use their music as a vehicle for creating milieus similar to the ones that they grew up with, and some go a step farther and set their favorite tales to music. The danger with this is that many metal fans, having grown up reading J.R.R. Tolkein, H.P. Lovecraft, and Robert Howard as well as the classic epic tales, know and love these works as well, and will be let down if the music does not stand up to the story. Unfortunately, it is this trap into which Symphony X stumbled with its release "The Odyssey."
The individual members of Symphony X are definitely talented musicians. Guitar wizardry and keyboard flair permeate the entire disc. Vocalist Russell Allen has strong pipes, and is able to belt out some fine Power Metal. The problem here is not with the musical dexterity, but rather with the composition. The music just does not fit with its lyrical content.
The Greek poem on which the title track is based is an epic of a man's struggle, with the gods, with the elements, and with the unscrupulous men who would steal his wife and his home. However, the music never captures any of this dark mood. The first four minutes or so of this track are an orchestral overture that frankly would seem more at home in an animated Disney film. The musical key here is high, and Allen's voice is too reminiscent of Tommy Shaw (from the band Styx) to be an effective mouthpiece for someone enduring the wrath of an angry god. The music fails to convey any of the frustration, despair, sorrow, and anger that Odysseus felt throughout his ordeal.
This phenomenon appears elsewhere as well. "King of Terrors," which appears to be based on "The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde," and which I have seen praised by other reviewers, is similarly upbeat. Contrast this with other metal interpretations of classic tales, (for example, Iced Earth's take on "Dante's Inferno"), and the disconnect here becomes more striking.
I truly wish that I liked this album more. The music is good; the lyrics are good - they just don't work well together. I listened to "The Odyssey" expecting anger, and I got happiness and hope. I looked for testosterone, but was given saccharine.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 5
Originality: 6
Production: 8

Written by HugeTheConqeror | 05.06.2008


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
Here it is! The new Symphony X opus has finally been released! After the live album Live On The Edge Of Forever, The Odyssey is finally in my hands. First thing to be noticed: the artwork is excellent with a complete booklet including pictures of the recording and lyrics, of course. But the important point is that from the first note to the last, The Odyssey appears to be the heaviest release of the band! If Michael Pinnella's keyboards are still the basis of Symphony X's music, the guitar parts are now more aggressive and the result is even better! But the big improvement on this album is due to Russell Allen's vocals. On some songs, he sounds close to Ronnie James Dio and without this change, I think that The Odyssey would have remained a classic Symphony X album. Russell Allen shows us once again that he is a complete singer and the music is the best they've ever played.

published 22.09.2003 | Comments (16)


Comments: 5   Visited by: 76 users
28.06.2008 - 20:43
I couldn't disagree with you more. I thought they absolutely hit the nail on the head with The Odyssey. All the emotion related to the trials and tribulations of this epic tale are all there in the music, not in the lyrics. It's a band doing a song, not a writer telling an epic tale. Had Symphony X decided to do a word for word translation of the original we'd have a 10 CD long bore. The Illiad and Odyssey are horribly overrated anyway so what Symphony X managed to do with this is pretty epic. They managed to bring a story / poem to the masses which isn't an easy read, and they made it blend perfectly with their style of music and relate it to the casual / average reader as well.

Did you compare Russell Allen to Tommy Shaw from Styx? I almost fell out of my chair when I read that. I can't think of two WORSE comparisons in music. Why not compare Chuck Schuldiner from Death to Madonna. Horrid comparison man. Russell doesn't have anything remotely in common with Tommy Shaw in style, range or emotion and both are brilliant musicians. I seriously question your ear music at this point. If you are going to make comparisons, find two musicians who at least have something in common.

The one point I'll concede here is the opening orchestral movement in The Odyssey. It does sound like it belongs in a cartoon or Disney film which is weird because Michael Romeo obviously poured his soul into it. It's not lacking in musical prowess but it does seem somewhat out of place. I don't hate it, but I'd just as soon get to the heart of the matter.

As for the rest of the cd it's the typical, epic, up-in-your-grill Symphony X approach to music, satisfying the progressive metal crowd to the fullest extent. I think you are on track with your rating for originality, but a 6 is way too harsh.

Performance: 10
Songwriting: 10
Originality: 9
Production: 10

A rock solid offering from Symphony X which was only topped by Paradise Lost.
28.06.2008 - 21:17
Testosterone? I'm sorry but thats such a silly reason for not liking a band or a record.

But I guess we all have our criteria...
Written by BloodTears on 19.08.2011 at 18:29

Like you could kiss my ass.
04.07.2008 - 06:57
Account deleted
i think the odyssey song its extremely long and this have just 10 or 14 minutes with a solid performance... just filling with keybords... i give this album 7.5
09.01.2009 - 19:49
Dude what are you talking about? you are completely wrong with your points of view it seems that you are a hard core metal band fan. Symphony x did a MASTERPIECE job. They combined perfectly the way the odyssey is related. It seems you never read the odyssey or maybe never understand the way the story is told. The intro is completely connected with the books intro. MS staff please don't let these people write such a worse criticism.
30.05.2011 - 17:48
You cant listen to an album expecting something thats when you go wrong and writing a review based upon that assumption is far more disastrous anyhow the review is well written in a wrong way
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