17 October 2017

Sons Of Apollo – Psychotic Symphony

A debut album from a new band featuring only the very best pedigree of musicians from the Prog World – Billy Sheehan (Niacin, The Winery Dogs, PSMS – amongst others !!) Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (Guns ‘n Roses plus solo work), Jeff Scott Soto (ex-Journey, Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian (both ex-Dream Theater).

Anyone who knows Mike Portnoy will know the man is a total workaholic , playing a VERY active role in Flying Colors, PSMS (again), Neal Morse Band, Shattered Fortress, The Winery Dogs and now Sons Of Apollo. Sherinian too – Black Country Communion, PSMS (also), Platypus, Planet X, Alice Cooper, Billy Idol, in addition to seven solo albums, a very notable CV I’m sure you’ll agree. These are desperate times for working musos, having to flit from project to project, the only fear I have with a project such as this is – with soooo many other commitments between them, will we (ever) see a second album ?? Doing the groundwork by surrounding yourself with World-class musicians, one would like to think this is an ongoing concern, we can only hope. That said, the calibre of the music is almost a done-deal so what can we expect from this kick-ass collective ?

I think it’s safe to say, with tracks like “God Of the Sun” (with its eastern influences, bordering at times on “Kashmir”) graces the airwaves, you pretty well know where this is going and I’m not insinuating that it’s predictable, but I suppose it’s inevitable that while listening you will hear the odd nod and a wink to bands these guys hold in high esteem, having all played with a good many bands as session musicians over the years. I picked up traces of The Who, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple (on “Figaro’s Whore” which segues into “Divine Addiction”, DS goes full-on Jon Lord !!), Dream Theater (inevitable), Derek’s solo work and so on and so on.

What I like about this album, and “Psychotic” is an apt description as at times it borders on the very term, is the way the band go off on a tangent part way through a song only to return to the original chorus, VERY Jazz !! The instrumental sections are chaotic, extreme and technical – at the highest level, but then I expected that from a band of professionals such as this, it certainly keeps the music interesting because more often than not, you never know where the song is going, flipping from driving, head banging Prog Metal, to 70s/80s rock and everything else inbetween…

If you are familiar with any or all of the component parts, I think it’s safe to say you’re going to LOVE this, it may be a little plagiaristic in places, but overall that’s not a bad thing, at least you know where you stand. Quality Prog Metal with awesome musicianship throughout spread over 9 tracks with two in excess of ten minutes (one of which is instrumental) – bring it on.
Classic Rock with a distinctive Prog Metal edge with more twists and turns than a roller coaster, what could possibly go wrong ? Outstanding.

4.5 out of 5

Available from Inside Out – October 20th.

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