I don't know whether it's just my own angle on things, but there never seems to be a lot of hype around Symphony X CD releases. Yet each time this band succeeds in releasing an album that ought to get a lot more promotion and exposure than it does.

"V" is no exception. Symphony X mixes the right amount of neoclassical playing with the appropriate load of bombast, poured into a progressive rock mould. "Twilight in Olympus", the album that came before "V", took me quite by surprise and converted me into a Symphony X devotee. "V" doesn't change that.

The first couple of tracks (the first four and the first half of "Communion and the Oracle") seem to suffer from starting problems; they are all right, recognisably Symphony X with the trusted dose of neoclassical prog rock, but after that the album just hurls at you excellent track after excellent track. "On the Breath of Poseidon (Segue)" is almost Holstian in tone, "Egypt" offers a nice mixture of prog rock with Eastern scales/influences, "The Death of Balance / Lacrymosa" is beautifully classical in setting, and "A Fool's Paradise" is full of the coolest riffs in what is probably the coolest song on the album. Throughout the album, Michael Romeo delivers impeccable guitar work, with Russell Allen vocals being literally spot-on. Symphony X are clearly pretenders to the prog rock throne (on which now sits, obviously, Dream Theater).

My only gripe with "V" - albeit a minor one - is that the production is not at the same level as the music; the drums and keyboard tend to drown, especially during the first couple of tracks.

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Written December 2000


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