A review from Janelle Van Dalsem
Though Symphony X’s Paradise Lost was released 4 years ago, its impact on my development as a metalhead was so influential I felt I had to get the word out to anyone who may not be familiar with the lesser-known band.
I grew up listening to a lot of mainstream metal and grunge, such as Metallica, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden. It follows then that when I became interested again in metal in college, I picked up right where 1992 left off. I began to research lesser-known bands and sub-genres of metal.
I stuck mostly to classic metal (Sabbath, Maiden) and thrash metal, finding most of today’s bands indistinguishable due to the widespread influence of symphonic and doom metal (think metal with strings and metal with low, guttural growls, respectively).
A friend, however, introduced me to Symphony X and changed my life forever. Symphony X is a progressive metal band formed in 1994 in Middletown, New Jersey. Progressive metal is a sub-genre of heavy metal and draws influence not only from metal[gods] such as Judas Priest and Sabbath but other classic rock bands like Rush and Cream. Progressive metal is also generally characterized by complex composition – very different from trash metal bands like Metallica, Slayer, and Megadeth, who depend on heavy guitars and punk-ish timing. Prog metal oftentimes employs fantasy-related imagery in the lyrics as well. They also tend to run in concept albums…
…Which brings me to Symphony X’s Paradise Lost. It is a concept album based loosely on John Milton’s 17th century literary masterpiece of the same name. It tells the biblical story of Satan’s rebellion and subsequent deception of Adam and Eve. Scholars often point out Satan’s cunning and attractive personality in Milton’s work, and Symphony X picks up on this in songs like Serpent’s Kiss and Set the World on Fire. The title track is a beautiful ballad-like song that is both surprising and pleasing juxtaposed next to lead singer Russell Allen’s powerful voice in other, faster-paced songs on the album (Allen, by the way, has one of the most amazing vocal ranges I’ve ever heard…without the Adam Lambert-y screaming!).
I highly recommend Paradise Lost to metalheads and non-metalheads alike. From their powerhouse lead vocalist to their rapid-fire guitar riffs, there is something in Symphony X for everyone to appreciate.