Symphony X’s “Paradise Lost”: A word list

The other day I was flipping through the CD section at my local library (which I often do) and ran across an album called “Paradise Lost” by a band named Symphony X. The cover looked like it was inspired by a fantasy novel so I knew I had to check it out. I was not disappointed — when I popped the disc into my car’s CD player, out poured symphonic heavy metal. Turns out that Symphony X is a prog metal band. And yes, “Paradise Lost” was inspired by the epic Milton poem of the same name.

As I listened to the first couple of songs, I was struck by the word choice of the lyrics. Very fantasy novel. Very D&D. So for your enjoyment, I have created a selected word list for the album. I can make no claims to thoroughness as I did this rather quickly (luckily, there was a lyric sheet). Please also note that many of the concrete nouns are used in combination with other nouns and/or adjectives that might make them more figurative.

Paradise Lost Word List

Concrete nouns
betrayers
blood
bones
chains
drums
ear
eyes
fiends
fire
gears
hammers
heart
ice
kiss
legions
plains
riders
shadows
skies
skin
snake
steed
tears
throat
tongue
twilight
walls
war hammer
waste
whisper
wild
winds
wings
Abstract nouns
control
corruption
covenant
defiance
domination
doom
fear
freedom
hope
illusion
innocence
insurrection
lies
pain
paradise
perfection
pride
sacrifice
sin
soul
vice
virtue
yearning
Verbs
Battled
beg
begged
burn
crawled
cross
curse
cut
damn
devour
empower
lick
pray
ravage
reflect
sanctify
savor
seize
severs
shedding
slip
slither
stray
taste
trust
victimize
wither
Adjectives and other adjectival modifiers
Angelic
black
darkest
decayed
flaming
foolish
Hell
hissing
hot-blooded
mighty
misty
pure
scorching
serpentine
sharp
shattered
starless
towering
wicked
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11 thoughts on “Symphony X’s “Paradise Lost”: A word list

  1. Wow, a post about metal that isn’t by Susan :)

    Paradise Lost is an awesome album. Listening to Michael Romeo play the guitar is an experience every rock fan should have before they die.

  2. I find the lyrics to be rather amusing (thus this post), but I have to admit that some of the music is very cool. And I do tend toward the melodramatic and pretentious…

  3. I find the lyrics to be rather amusing (thus this post), but I have to admit that some of the music is very cool

    You just summed up all of metal for me.

    You should check out Opeth now.

  4. Finally, somebody’s into prog metal other than me. Indeed, you stumbled on a great album, WM. Symphony X is pretty cool. I put them right after Dream Theater (there’s a lot of cross-pollination of ideas between the groups too – Patrucci & Portnoy have admitted as much).

  5. I wouldn’t say that I’m into it (or maybe you’re referencing Susan, David), but I was pleasantly surprised by the experience.

  6. I’m way into prog metal, David. And not in a “rather amused by the pretentiousness” sort of way.

  7. I’d be interested in hearing more about that, kwk. I’m generally pretty friendly towards all types of genres and love to hear people who really know and love a particular genre/band/author talk about it.

    This was, for sure, a dashed off post and one that could even be construed as insulting. Although for me, it was more a matter of making an observation while listening and wanting to explore the idea further. And then based on the word lists, I found more in common with D&D than with Milton.

    Of course, if one did the same exercise with my own creative writing or that of the authors, we might look just as monochromatic.

  8. Wm: Hey, the lyrics do kind of give off a goofy fantasy vibe sometimes, and Symphony X’s singer is pretty dramatic. The album was not meant to be a concept album based off Milton, but the band used themes from the text and wrote songs about them.

    Like Susan said, metal lyrics and attitudes can get pretty cheesy at times. Metal is just a different aesthetic than most music fans are used to. It’s over-the-top, from the operatic singers to doomsday lyrics to the amps turned to 11. A lot of people in the scene aren’t the brightest, and I’m sure there are a lot more terrible metal bands than there are, say, fusion jazz bands. One thing to understand is that metal is largely about instrumental songwriting, prowess, and creativity. I’d say most metal bands spend less than 5% of their “creative periods” on lyrics. These are guys that spend 12 hours a day playing guitar. So when it comes time to write an album, lyrics are usually the least important element in the process, and they tend to be forced out as attempts to be “brutal” or “epic”.

    What bugs me is when people paint all of metal Idiot Black. It’s usually the Bohemian hipsters with their vinyl indie rock collections and liberal arts degrees that tick me off the most. Talk about pretentiousness… People seem to love to criticize things they don’t understand.

  9. I was at a metal show last night (Valiant Thorr, Early Man and Skeleton Witch) and found myself looking around and thinking, “These are my people.”

    I never get that feeling at an indie show, although I probably go to more indie shows than metal shows.

  10. I’m not sure who my people are. But I’d definitely take Symphony X over all of the feckless, wispy males-singing-in-high tenor-or-falsetto indie singer/songwriters that seem to be in vogue these days.

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