Symphony X - Twilight In Olympus

Year of Release: 1998
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD 021
Format: CD
Total Time: 52:44:00


I am surprised at the number of questions I am getting in e-mail, and reading on the [Perpetual Motion] Board that ask, "Is Twilight better than Divine" .... The scary part of this is that I've read where some people won't buy this disc if it isn't better than Divine ...

I've been bashed by saying this, but I'll say it again, and this is one man's opinion ... Symphony X is one of the most talented, tightest bands on the planet, sporting some of the best musicians and singer I've ever heard. In 1998, the music I am enjoying most, and the band playing some of the best prog metal I've ever heard is Symphony X. Unfortunately for bands that put out sheer masterpieces like Operation:Mindcrime, Images & Words, Divine Wings Of Tragedy, and others considered metal masterpieces, the subsequent discs get compared to the masterpiece, and I think it's not only unfair to a band, but actually more unfair to the listener, who will deprive him / herself of great music in its own right.

Strtictly speaking about Twilight In Olympus, the bottom line is that the disc is not only great, but also essential. This is definitely some of the most thought-provoking, emotional music that Symphony X has created to date. How much one enjoys the disc depends on what you listen to Symphony X for. Personally, I like the melodic warmth that Symphony X displays while playing some very complex, well arranged prog metal; not withstanding the fact that the band also sports one of the best and most talented singers in metal today, and one of the finest, most underrated guitarists I've ever heard. Every Symphony X disc has something to offer, and how you judge which disc is "better" is what appeals most to you.

That said, I want to give a song-by-song synopsis (I promise a short one) on what you can expect from the new disc. Basically, to my ears, the band has taken the melodic warmth of Damnation Game, and the complexity of Divine Wings, and then took those elements and incorporated them into some great, emotional songs. The emphasis was certainly on the song writing this time out, and the band has done a superb job of giving us something different than their other discs, yet there is no mistaking that this band is Symphony X, and remains true to their own identity, which is what the essence of progressive music is, right ?

Here is what I am personally hearing on the new disc, Twilight in Olympus:

1) "SMOKE AND MIRRORS" - If you had a blindfold on, and someone started cranking this baby, you'd know within the first 10 seconds that this was Symphony X. The unmistakable guitar sound of Mr. Michael Romeo starts in, and pretty much gives you an idea of where this is disc is heading, or is it? One of the faster songs on the disc, it contains that famous, speedy "chugga chugga" sound that we all have come to know and love. Heavy, speedy, melodic all the way. Russell Allen is in rare form, as usual, using less vocal harmonies and really getting to showcase his flexible voice. Amidst the speedy, signature sounds, the tempo changing, the stops, the starts, they are all here. Most notably, there are plenty more keyboards out in the mix this time, complementing the sound very nicely and making Symphony X's music epic in nature. The guitar and keys definitely share more time on this disc, and the result is exciting and fresh.

2) "CHURCH OF THE MACHINE" - Don't let that Industrial sound at the beginning fool you .... it's actually great!!!!! Personally, this is my 2nd favorite track on the disc, bringing back those classic Allen harmonies, keyboards galore, making this one hell of a song. At times this song even reminds me of a Dream Theater-type style, which shows that the band is not bent on playing just soaring guitar solos and chops-at-the speed-of-light like some neo-classical bands can do. This song is speedy at times, VERY warm, melodic, epic, and one of the best songs on the disc. Think that Russell Allen sounds like Dio? When you hear this, you might think that Dio is singing his best ever... ;o) This song actually shows how flexible and creative Allen can be, singing in his most aggressive tones, switching to soft harmonies, and then to a normal, softer tone. How this guy keeps a voice period is amazing in itself. No offense to any band, but if Dream Theater wrote music like this their last time out, they would certainly still be sitting at the top of the prog metal heap.

3) "SONATA" - A nice, soft, little instrumental, based on the Sonata #8 in C minor by Beethoven. Soft, electric guitars and atmospheric keyboards bring us this little interlude before the storm kicks up again. After "Church Of The Machine," you will be gasping for breath, so the band gives us a little 2-3 minute rest.

4) "IN THE DRAGON'S DEN" - Then, there were hurricanes again. The band kicks in as fast as they stopped, opting for a speedy, epic, aggressive attack. Speedy guitar runs, tons of double bass runs, with Allen once again showing why he is one of the best on the business. Signature Symphony X here folks, no mistaking that sound.

5) "THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS (Parts I, II, III )" - My personal favorite on the disc. It combines everything that Damnation Game is, and everything that Divine Wings is, and sums it up in this classic Symphony X song. To be honest, I find it hard to believe that any band, much less Symphony X, could write another song like the "Divine Wings Of Tragedy." There I go comparing again. However, this has to be one of Symphony X's finest hour with this song. With another Dream Theater style opening (no offense to DT, but they need to listen to this song before re-recording) this song takes the most melodic, warm parts of Damnation Game, and pairs it up with the exciting, crunching parts of Divine Wings. When Allen starts singing, you'd swear you put on Damnation Game by mistake, but then this song is cut into three chapters, and you might think you accidentally put on Divine Wings by the time you get to Chapter Two. Taking the keyboarded, melidic parts of say, "Winter's Dream," and combining them with the attitude and maybe the crunch of "The Accolade" from Divine Wings, this song has to go down as one of the best that the band has ever written. Vocal haromonies, tempo changes, keyboards, soaring solos, epic sounds, everyting that the band stands for is in this one song..... it's worth the price of admission alone. If you like getting goosebumps when you listen to music, this song is guaranteed to send you to goosebump city almost instantly. When the music stops, and the chapters change, and Allen sings along with the stringy keyboards, and the soft guitar, you know that this is Symphony X's finest moment.

6) "THE RELIC" - If it is in your head that Symphony X is ONLY a neo-classical band, and this is all you want out of this band (why the hell would you), just skip right to this song. It has all of the neo-classical sounds that other bands try to make. Admittedly, it doesn't do much to me, because I know that this band is everything that I listen to music for, and this song is just something that establishes this band as the greatest neo-classical band of all time. This disc is much more than that, but for the fan of this style alone, here is your chance to hear the best at work.

7) "ORION - THE HUNTER" - Here is some nice, crunchy, catchy guitar work to start off this song, heading right back into the melodic keyboarded sound and chorus sounds that make this disc so wonderful to listen to. This song sounds like it might be a continuation of a song off of Damnation Game, with some nice additions thrown in Twilight style. I still can't get over how much warmth that is incorporated into the songs, for a band that is loaded with chops galore. Again, the focus is not on playing ability here, that has already been established. The band is out to write some killer songs, and this is another one of them. The vocal harmonies are back, the crunch is back, the keyboards are back, and this goes right back to the style of the "Through The Looking Glass" which incorporates something from all of the band's previous work.

8) "LADY OF THE SNOW" - The last song of this magical adventure called Twlight In Olympus opens up with some cool Japanese-style pluckings, some wind, and some beautiful acoustic guitar thrown together. Do you think that Russell Allen doesn't have soft side to his voice? When you hear the opening vox on this track, you will wonder who the hell is singing this beautiful passage. The huge vox harmonies kick in, along with the bells, the electric guitar, this is what the word "epic" means to me. Then it stops and goes back to the slow, soft, gorgeous passage that signifies the feel of this song. Arguably one of the prettiest songs the band has ever written, if you like "Winter's Dream" from Damnation Game, you're going to love this song. The emphasis is on BEAUTY here, and this is exactly what you get. I defy anyone not to hit the repeat button after this song is done. Don't be afraid to crank this song up, it sounds absolutely astounding; the band's talent is on display here folks, there is beauty in metal, and this is some of the prettiest music that I believe Symphony X has ever written.

Any complaints? I wish I could think of one. It's scary to think that a band can just keep putting out magnificent music disc after disc, and wondering what they are going to do next and how they are going to do it. Ok, the disc is only 52 minutes long.... is that a complaint ? :O) I heard that the band had a 20 minute or longer song written for this disc, but that they couldn't finish in time for the disc release as the band was being pressured by the label to get the disc out. I can't imagine what that song would have sounded like, because to me they have put it all out on the table with this disc. You want heavy? It's here. You want melodic warmth? It's here. You want beauty? It's here. It's all here, everything that I love about progressive metal is wrapped up into this 52-minute gem.......

Is it better than Divine Wings of Tragedy? That's a matter of opinion...... again, depends on what you listen to the band for. What you are getting, is classic, exciting, Symphony X doing what they do best; write, play, and bring us arguably the best progressive metal on the planet today.

Smoke And Mirrors (6:09) / Church Of The Machine (8:57) / Sonata (1:25) / In The Dragon's Den (4:00) / Through The Looking Glass (Part I, II, III)(13:05) / The Relic (5:03) / Orion - The Hunter (6:56) / Lady Of The Snow (7:09)

Michael Romeo - guitars
Russell Allen - vocals
Michael Pinnella - keyboards
Thomas Miller - bass
Tom Walling - drums

Symphony X (1994)
The Damnation Game (1995)
The Divine Wings Of Tragedy (1997)
Twilight In Olympus (1998)
V - The New Mythology Suite (2000)
Live On The Edge Of Forever (2001)
The Odyssey (2002)
Paradise Lost (2007)
Iconoclast (2011)
Underworld (2015)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin US

Added: July 25th 1999
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Artist website:
Hits: 1050
Language: english


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