Symphony X

The Odyssey

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Symphony X is certainly an anomaly: an '80s-style fantasy metal band who came along in 1994 (after Nirvana and Pearl Jam's success had seriously rearranged the rock landscape) and ended up acquiring a loyal Gen-X following (especially in Europe). In the '90s and 2000s -- a time when other young headbanger bands have embraced alternative metal and been influenced by punk, rap, and/or industrial -- Symphony X has maintained an unapologetically old-school outlook. And that old-school perspective remains on The Odyssey, which is a 2002 release but recalls the classic fantasy metal of '80s favorites like Queensr├┐che, Yngwie Malmsteen, Ronnie James Dio, and Iron Maiden. A few of the riffs might bring to mind Metallica, a band that emerged in the '80s but has had a strong influence on alterna-metal combos of the '90s and 2000s. (Those who assert that Metallica eventually ended up becoming as influential as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Judas Priest aren't off base). But even if some of guitarist Michael Romeo's heavier riffs have a somewhat Metallica-ish punch, everything else about this ambitious CD underscores Symphony X's love of '80s fantasy metal. From the conceptual lyrics to the Euro-classical influence to the elaborate arrangements and melodies, The Odyssey is a 2002 release that wouldn't have been out of place in 1985. By early-2000s standards, this material sounds dated. But dated isn't necessarily a bad thing -- if you hold a particular era in high regard, dated can actually be a plus. And if you're the sort of die-hard fantasy metal enthusiast who still cannot get enough of Queensr├┐che's Operation: Mindcrime, dated is certainly a plus on this album. That isn't to say that The Odyssey is in a class with Operation: Mindcrime; however, it is a respectable effort that will likely please those who have enjoyed Symphony X's previous releases.

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