By Rob Kachluba
Heavyweight Prog/Power titans Symphony X return with their first album for Nuclear Blast and what a monster it is. This is by far their most aggressive, heaviest, darkest sounding record yet. Opening track “Iconoclast” is an intense, crunchy, proggy number with loads of tempo changes and Russell Allen sounding like a man on a mission. I love his intensity and commanding power which makes him one of the better prog/power singers out there. “Dehumanize” is a nice mid-paced cruncher with angular riffing and Russell sounding like he’s about to rip your face off. One of my fave riffs and songs is “Children of a Faceless God”. Great buildup in the verses followed by a very warm melodic chorus. Closing track “When All is Lost” starts off ballad-y then turns into some classic old school Symphony X ala Divine Wings of Tragedy with even Russell letting up on the aggression and singing more in his old school vox. The album is full of Mike Romeo’s wicked riffing and soloing and loads of heavy aggression and melody that never gets tiring. If you like the direction of Paradise Lost then this is a nobrainer, but even more of a heavier darker vibe. The musicianship is top notch as usual and the production is huge and lets every instrument breathe. I know from visiting message boards that the fans are in two camps: they either love their heavier more riff oriented direction of their last three albums or they prefer the older stuff that is more proggy and less power. I love this direction as it doesn’t sound as dated and they still bring on the prog but gave it a nice updated modern sound. Definite top ten year end material.