SYMPHONY X — The Divine Wings Of Tragedy

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SYMPHONY X - The Divine Wings Of Tragedy cover
4.20 | 98 ratings | 7 reviews
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Album · 1996

Tracklist

1. Of Sins And Shadows (4:58)
2. Sea Of Lies (4:18)
3. Out Of The Ashes (3:40)
4. The Accolade (9:51)
5. Pharaoh (5:28)
6. The Eyes Of Medusa (5:26)
7. The Witching Hour (4:15)
8. The Divine Wings Of Tragedy (20:42)
9. Candlelight Fantasia (6:45)

Total Time: 65:26

Line-up/Musicians

- Russell Allen / vocals
- Michael Romeo / guitars
- Michael Pinella / keyboards
- Jason Rullo / drums
- Thomas Miller / bass

About this release

Release date: March 24, 1997
Label: InsideOut Music

Thanks to progshine, The Angry Scotsman, Unitron for the updates

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SYMPHONY X THE DIVINE WINGS OF TRAGEDY reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

UMUR
"The Divine Wings Of Tragedy" is the 3rd full-length studio album by US, New Jersey based power/progressive metal act Symphony X. The album was released through Zero Corporation in Japan in November 1996 and through InsideOut Music in Europe in March 1997. It´s the successor to "The Damnation Game" from 1995 and features the same quintet lineup as the predecessor. "The Divine Wings Of Tragedy" was the breakthrough album for Symphony X and is by many considered among their finest works.

Symphony X have honed their songwriting craft considerably on this release (compared to the two preceding album releases), and they have also upped the use of progressive metal elements, although they still retain strong European power metal/neo-classical leanings, and are also firmly grounded in the more raw and thrash infused US power metal style. The latter mentioned style is on full display on the opening track "Of Sins And Shadows", which features incredibly heavy thrashy (almost brutal) guitar riffs and heavy pounding rhythms, which are not the order of the day on most European power metal/neo-classical or progressive metal releases. It´s a muscular track showing Symphony X at their most raw and punishing. When that is said "Of Sins And Shadows" still features melodic neo-classical keyboard/guitar themes and a melodic anthemic chorus, so there is a good balance between the raw and the melodic on that track.

The same can actually be said about all the material on the album, although the melodic sensibility and the degrees of rawness and the number of heavy riffs/rhythms vary from track to track. Some of the highlights are "Of Sins And Shadows", "Sea Of Lies", "Candlelight Fantasia"l, and "The Accolade". Especially the latter deserves a special mention for the wealth of intriguing compositional ideas and beautiful and strong epic melodies. This is pure musical brilliance to my ears. Many would probably count the 20:42 minutes long title track among the highlights of the album, but I disagree with that sentiment. Although the track features many high quality elements (the opening choir section is for example great) and strong and powerful sections, it´s a bit of a compositional mess, with an instrumental middle section which doesn´t really work that well.

Other than the generally high quality compositions the greatest asset of "The Divine Wings Of Tragedy" is the high level musicianship. Lead vocalist Russell Allen can´t be praised enough for his commanding delivery and versatile voice. He can sing both high pitched and melodic and mid- to low register raw and clean vocals. His performance on this album is outstanding. The rhythm section are strong playing too and bassist Thomas Miller even gets to shine a couple of times during the albums playing time with some lead parts. Michael Pinella is obviously a classically trained keyboard player and his busy neo-classical playing perfectly compliments the ditto busy guitar playing of Michael Romeo. The latter is a world class guitar player, who masters many different styles from brutal groove laden thrashy riffs, to strong melodic hooks and great acoustic/clean guitar moments, to blistering solo work.

"The Divine Wings Of Tragedy" features a relatively well sounding production, which suits the material well. I say relatively well sounding production, because it´s not a perfect production. The drums for example don´t feature the most powerful production values, and they come of a little thin sounding in the mix and the distorted guitar tone is also a little odd sounding a times. It´s as if it´s sometimes played through a wah-pedal, but not on purpose. The minor production complaints aside, "The Divine Wings Of Tragedy" is still a perfectly listenable album and most listeners probably won´t even notice or be bothered by the mentioned flaws.

Upon conclusion it´s perfectly understandable why "The Divine Wings Of Tragedy" became the breakthrough for Symphony X. While the first two albums showed promise, this one fully delivers on that promise. High level musical performances and clever compositional ideas. On top of that Symphony X have a unique sound and a musical identity which immediately set them apart from the pack. Sure the neo-classical influences scream Rainbow and Yngwie Malmsteen, but that is just one elements of the band´s sound. Mix it up with the darkest and most heavy moments of Dream Theater and add a premier league US power metal vocalist to the potion and you have "The Divine Wings Of Tragedy". Not a perfect album, but it´s close. A 4 - 4.5 star (85%) rating is deserved.
martindavey87
Symphony X's upward spiral continues as their third album, 'The Divine Wings of Tragedy', builds upon every improvement made over their previous two albums, to make this one of their finest and most ambitious releases to date.

The music and sound is pretty much similar to its predecessor, yet, everything just seems more accomplished. The band have really hit their stride in regards to songwriting, especially guitarist Michael Romeo and keyboardist Michael Pinnella, who's neoclassical dueling perfectly encapsulates the essence of the band. And vocalist Russell Allen's incredible voice fits the music perfectly, able to shift from melodic to aggressive singing with ease.

After 'The Damnation Game' set the blueprint for a Symphony X album, this is where the New Jersey quintet really started to refine their sound and become the band we all know and love. And with some of their strongest material in songs such as 'Of Sins and Shadows', 'Out of the Ashes', 'The Accolade', 'The Eyes of Medusa' and the 21-minute title track, it's easy to see why this album is held in such high regard by fans.
J-Man
Symphony X's over-the-top brand of progressive power metal may not be for everybody, but for those that like their metal with a high level of bombast, you'll be hard-pressed to find anything more impressive than The Divine Wings of Tragedy. Released in 1997, the band's third full-length album showcases their diverse musical palette through remarkably strong compositions and instrumental wizardry. This album's title track also shows the band exploring massive song lengths for the first time, and its majestic atmospheres and neo-classical styled songwriting make it one of the most impressive epics in progressive metal. Admittedly, The Divine Wings of Tragedy does not greatly differ from The Damnation Game from a stylistic perspective, but it tightens up the formula established on that album in virtually every regard - this is a record of "all killer, no filler", and between the hard-edged power metal in "Of Sins and Shadows" and "Pharoah", the progressive arrangement of "The Accolade", and the symphonic flourishes in the title track, The Divine Wings of Tragedy has all bases covered. Masterpiece!
Warthur
Symphony X's Divine Wings of Tragedy combines the complex song structures and love affair with synthesisers of prog metal and combines it with the sheer over the top cheese factor of power metal. The resultant blend is certainly not for everyone, and some listeners - and I'll readily admit I'm one of them - will find themselves turned off by the band's gleeful disregard for restraint or tastefulness, but then again other listeners would regard that as a plus. On the whole, three stars seems fare - if it's the sort of thing you like, you might like it a lot, but it's a very acquired taste.
The Angry Scotsman
The first of a few masterpieces by Symphony X

Here the band has perfected their sound, progressive metal influenced by power metal and tinged with neo classical. This is pretty much a perfect album, every song is great and there are no weak moments from start to finish. The compositions are awesome, heavily progressive with every band member working together perfectly, playing their role yet still getting to showcase their great talent. Allen's vocals finally hit their stride. he has amazing range, sings with power, and always fits the music. He never over does it, and shows some variation...two things that often elude other singers in the operatic style. Overall, Allen has a bit more of a scruffy streak in his singing that really makes it. Of course the album is packed with awesome riffing, dueling guitar and keyboard solos, epic choirs, synth laden backgrounds, and pushed along with effective and subtle drumming as they navigate progressive song structures.

All the songs are great, so instead of describing them I recommend you listen to the album, though some stand outs need to be mentioned. "The Accolade" is THE definition of progressive metal, and of the best songs ever made by the band. Well textured and really moves, but with direction, like a river and doesn't drift aimlessly. The last third of this song is quite unique and has one of the most intricate and beautiful sections of music I've heard.

The title track is a 20 minute prog metal epic, that truly takes you across the universe. It has everything and the first listen will leave you clueless as to what will happen next. It really does throw everything at you including some seriously groovy, melodic, and off tempo sections! The middle part is mindblowing, very unique and solos by everyone! After that journey the album ends with "Candlelight Fantasia" a much lighter and melodic song.

A masterpiece of prog metal

FIVE STARS

Phonebook Eater
Progressive/Power Metal perfection.

Symphony X's third album is the way to go for Michael Romeo and company. "The Divine Wings Of Tragedy" is so far the best album to date by the band, and most definitely one of the finest opuses in the Prog Metal genre.

In this album, the band reproduces many influences,unlike the first two albums; from the usual theatrical melodies, to the powerful, heavy riffs accompanied by a very virtuous bass guitar and keyboards, to again some arabic and east european moods that here and there are present. The artists are all at the peak of their capacities: always unforgettable the duels in the solos between the wild keyboards and the guitar, and every now and then the bass gives us some crazy strains that even John Myung might envy. Russell Allen has never had after this a voice this emotional, melodic, and pure, without never being too hard and rough like he will be in the following albums.

"The Divine Wings Of Tragedy" seems to be a hymn of theatrical expression; it's an opera, with some mythological and ancient, medieval tastes,( like Dante or Classical music), of passion, violent, but still very haunting. Even lyrically speaking lyricist Russell Allen writes about medieval times, having many influences from different authors of this period.

The songs are just amazing, not one bad one; especially concerning the epic 20 minute title track, the best Symphony X track ever, since everything of it is absolutely perfect, from the intro choir, to the beautiful piano and guitar passages, to the heavy riffs and the virtuous keyboards. Then, when the song is over, you ask yourself where those twenty minutes have gone. The other long song, "The Accolade" (almost ten minutes), has more delicate passages, and never get's too heavy. Certainly not as eclectic as the title track, but still quite impressive. even the shorter songs( the catchy and fast opening track "Of Sins and Shadows", the somewhat edgy "Sea Of Lies", the memorable "Out of The Ashes", the technical triumphs of "Pharaoh" the tense and mysterious "The Eyes Of Medusa" ) have all breathtaking moments, without any flat and tired ones.

An extremely original masterpiece, one of a kind in this genre, very overlooked by many music snobs, that should start considering for their own good bands like Symphony X and albums like "The Divine Wings Of Tragedy".

Members reviews

SouthSideoftheSky
The divine music of Symphony X

This brilliant album kicks off excellently with Of Sins And Shadows. The song starts in an interesting way and it is clear right away that this is not conventional Metal music. During the first track alone we are treated to a Yes' Close To The Edge-like vocal break, a Brian May-like guitar break, a Queen-like operatic vocal section, a guitar/keyboard duel strongly influenced by the ones between Yngwie Malmsteen and Jens Johansson in Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force. With all this going on they still manage to keep the song focused on the strong melody and riff.

The lead guitar playing of Michael Romeo is obviously and most strongly influenced by Yngwie Malmsteen's style, but also influences from Brian May, Ritchie Blackmore and other guitar heroes can be detected. Romeo is able to mimic Malmsteen well, and very few other people (if any!) could do that. As I said, the reoccurring guitar/keyboard duels very often sound like those between Malmsteen and Jens Johansson in Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force. A side note: Romeo actually played together with Jens Johansson on an album called The Last Viking by a group simply called Johansson which is led by Jens and his brother Anders Johansson. A great album by the way!

However, even if the guitar and keyboard sound often is highly derivative, Romeo and keyboardist Michael Pinella incorporate this influence into an often quite different musical framework making the end result quite original, after all. The overall musical influences on Symphony X's music probably include Queen and Rainbow as well as Power Metal and Neo-Classical Metal. Anyway, this music is more epic, elaborated, progressive and complex than anything ever done by Yngwie Malmsteen (even if some of his material is clearly progressive in my opinion).

The vocals of Russell Allen have a wide range from quite gruff to almost falsetto and it is clear that he is a very competent vocalist. Freddie Mercury, Ronnie James Dio and Bruce Dickinson might be good reference points for the vocal style involved (even if Allen is hardly as distinctive as those rock icons).

After the opening track, the album continues with two further high-powered, melodious songs with great heavy riffs and lots of things going on. Out Of The Ashes is strongly Neo-Classical and I love that kind of stuff! The Accolade is the first song of the album that slows the tempo down and it offers a welcome respite from the onslaught of the first three tracks. This almost 10 minute piece is perhaps not exactly a ballad though, but in relation to the other songs it might perhaps be called a ballad. It speeds up a bit after a while and transforms several times, it is clearly the song that comes closest to classic Symphonic Prog. It features violin and reminds a bit of Kansas at times. I find this song quite brilliant and it clearly contributes to making this album as varied and diverse as it is.

Pharaoh, The Eyes Medusa and The Witching Hour once again raise the tempo and again the third of these is the most strongly Neo-Classical. The acoustic beginning of this song is fantastic, but once again it could have come straight off one of Yngwie Malmsteen's better albums.

The 20+ minute title track begins with a somewhat sacral, yet strongly Queen-like a cappella vocal section. Then enters a marching beat and heavy riff and on top of that some Brian may-like guitar notes. This epic song then moves us trough all the different aspects of the band including some somewhat surprising Jazz-Rock Fusion influences! It is in this track where Symphony X reminds the most of their biggest competitors Dream Theater, but not that much I would say. At first I thought this was the weakest part of the album, but it grew on me after some listens.

The album ends with a lovely song in Candlelight Fantasia that might be labelled a ballad. It has a very strong vocal melody that will leave humming for the rest of the day. This is based on a lovely vocal and piano. But it also includes a few surprises. A great way to end the album!

I did not like the music of Symphony X very much at first, I used to find them a bit cheesy and far too bombastic and over the top. However, I got used to it after some listens and now I find the cheesyness and bombast rather charming!

The Divine Wings Of Tragedy is Symphony X's best album and probably the best album of its kind!

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