Symphony X – The Divine Wings Of Tragedy (1997)
With elements of Queen, Yngwie Malmsteem and Rainbow finding their way through Symphony X’s seriously crunchy riffs, The Divine Wings Of Tragedy combined hefty grit and metal muscle with expansive, adventurous songwriting and occasionally jaw-dropping theatrical flourishes to create a true Progressive Metal classic; comparisons with Dream Theater were inevitable but Divine Wings stands on its own merits.
The gargantuan 20 minute title track still galvanises as it negotiates a neo-classical maze of twists and turns featuring a cappella, heads-down Dio-esque Power Metal and sublime flourishes of Keyboard-infused; all embodied by Russell Allen’s ridiculously varied vocals.
A Prog Metal classic and no mistake, anyone who experiences this masterpiece for the first time so many years after release will still be floored by its ambition and technique.
Shadow Gallery – Tyranny (1998)
Opening with an instrumental that ably combines all the facets Progressive Metal fans demand, Shadow Gallery’s whirlwind of keys, staccato riffs and high tempos may dial down the heavy when compared to many bands in this feature but Tyranny is still defiantly Prog Metal, even if it favours melody over muscle.
Maintaining a relatively streamlined – and radio friendly – approach Tyranny‘s high calibre songwriting is of a consistency rarely heard, amounting to an album that must be absorbed in its entirety to appreciate its true scope. Nevertheless, “I Believe” is a noteworthy epic featuring (brief) guest vocals from Dream Theater’s James LaBrie and Mystery‘s stop-start clash of intricate riffs, layered keyboards and harmonies are highlights.
True Prog Metal fans revere Tyranny as a benchmark of the genre and this lofty position has yet to be usurped in the preceding years. Classic and highly influential.