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Live On The Edge Of Forever

1 rating: 5.0
An album by Symphony X

New 2 CD live set recorded at various locations in France & Germany on Inside Out Records.

Tags: Music
1 review about Live On The Edge Of Forever

Close your eyes on the edge of forever...

  • Nov 25, 2001
Symphony X is one of the few progressive metal bands whose music I enjoy. Thus, my respect for them has been boosted considerably with the release of this 2CD live album. For one thing, V - The New Mythology Suite is one of my favorite albums, and the band performs a good portion of it on disc 1 (all the way up to "The Death of Balance," at which point it segues into "Candlelight Fantasia"). V is my favorite SymX album, but in the studio the album seemed a bit more "tame" than their earlier stuff. Live, Symphony X's trademark aggression is thrust back into V. (Fanfare!)

For a relatively inexperienced live band, they put on a great show, performing their highly sophisticated music with explosive energy. I am particularly in awe of vocalist Russell Allen, who is an astonishingly good live performer. Although he is not an extremely technical singer (by his own admission), his voice fares very well, he's a spirited & lively performer, and he often improves the delivery over the original studio recordings. On "Candlelight Fantasia," he hits every note of the beautiful song with perfect, controlled pain. On others, he injects a great deal more aggression into the lyrics. On "Fallen," he sings, "My Serpents plot the overthrow of your temples and shrines" with a growl so evil it makes the hairs on the back of my neck rise. On "The Divine Wings of Tragedy - The Prophets Cry" he sounds utterly demonic. Nothing is worse than a great singer who can't perform live...Symphony X doesn't disappoint in that regard!

If you're wondering how the band recreates their majestic vocal harmonies in the live setting...well, they don't. Still, they do what they can. When possible, Michael Romeo and Michael Pinnella sing backing vocals (which work well). On "Of Sins and Shadows," Pinnella runs the choral sample from his keyboards. The massive, complex a capella counterpoint choral work that opens "The Divine Wings of Tragedy" is cut entirely. While it's difficult to recreate some of their richly textured symphonic music live, the band fares very well in other regards. Even though keyboardist Pinnella can't support a full MIDI orchestra live, the symphonic cuts ("Prelude," "Transcendence," "On the Breath of Poseidon") still possess a big sounding quality. Michael Romeo helps out by filling some of the missing textures with awesome guitar licks. For example, on the symphonic speed metal cut "On the Breath of Poseidon" he plays neoclassical runs to round out the symphonic weaves throughout the song. It's different, and very cool. Romeo = guitar master!

Many songs are altered to keep things fresh, as well. "Candlelight Fantasia," which is shortened, is performed with nothing but Allen's ghostly voice and pianos. Believe it or not, the song is even more ethereal and beautiful when done live. Pinnella adds a number of lovely little piano tags throughout (like at the end of "Egypt" (yes, I know there was piano there before, but this is different) and the end of "Communion and the Oracle." Even when the songs aren't altered in any way, the sheer energy gripping the performances makes everything sound new and more exciting. The frenzied Romeo/Pinnella soloing duels sound more wild and exhilarating than before. Romeo's hair-pin metal riffing is burning with energy, which makes the sometimes mucky guitar tone less regrettable. It's also great to hear Allen's interaction with the crowd, like when he basically teases the audience before the beginning of "Smoke and Mirrors." Good fun! Speaking of the crowd, they sure get rockin' to the music (that makes it more exciting!). European audiences sure love their Symphony X.

Rarely is anyone 100% satisfied with a live album (especially if you're a jerk like me), so obviously I'm disappointed in a few respects. The album is called Live on the Edge of Forever, but where is the song "The Edge of Forever"? It's such a beautiful song, and I would have loved to hear it live with the band's thundering energy (since The Damnation Game's production was pretty bad). In fact, there are no songs from The Damnation Game, or the debut. That's too bad. I think it also would have been incredible to hear "The Relic" live, because it has an awesome, heroic chorus that would rock live.

But no big deal. These complaints are really just what they call "small potatoes." Live on the Edge of Forever is awesome anyway you take it. There's been a lot of great live releases this year, but this is one of the best. The performances catch fire, and Symphony X rocks n' stuff. If you don't buy this, I must question your sanity.

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Live On The Edge Of Forever
Artist: Symphony X
Release Date: October 22, 2001

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