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Styx - The Serpent Is Rising CD (album) cover




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2.99 | 124 ratings

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Tom Ozric
Prog Reviewer
5 stars I'll be the first one to admit that Styx aren't truly 'Progressive Rock', but many of their albums find their way into many a Prog-Head's collection. 'The Serpent Is Rising' is my pick of the bunch - I do find the first 4 'Wooden Nickel' releases engaging, but I don't go for their 'Pomp-Rock' albums from 1975 onwards. On this album we have a very loud production, it's quite the heavy-rock album in a lot of ways. 'Witch Wolf' is a dynamic rocker with absolutely thunderous drumming from John Panozzo (complete with double-kick) and an incredibly memorable riff. Their distinct massed vocals already intact at this early stage (not my favourite facet of the band, but they are done really well here). 'The Grove of Eglantine' is typically 'prog' sounding with a gorgeous Harpsichord intro, crunching rhythm and heavy guitars, the verses are sung by Dennis DeYoung (with his classic A.O.R. voice) and harmonies from the band on the choruses. There is a delightful middle section which shows off DeYoung's classical training, and we even get a dash of Mellotron. The song reverts back to its main themes and fades. I'm sure bassist Chuck Panozzo is playing a Rickenbacker - a popular bass amongst Prog musicians. 'Young Man' starts off with acoustic guitar strums and JY's voice and quickly explodes with some loud bursts of 'Young Man' along with some mighty guitar chords, some subtleness with a short Bass Guitar and Flute Mellotron melody and the song is off and away. DeYoung's Hammond solo is full of life, and the 'tron appears again with a quiet verse, giving way to a heavy tri-tone riff with odd-time sigs backed with some bubbling synths and intense organ notes. 'As Bad As This' is a soft acoustic ballad, sung by John Curulewski, and has a lovely Mellotron passage halfway through. Side 1 of the LP finishes off with a throwaway ditty referred to as 'Plexiglass Toilet' (though it's not listed on the LP cover) - thankfully this semi-amusing salsa-cum-Jamaican slop only lasts under 2 minutes. Innocent fun for a few moments, I guess. The first 2 songs on the 2nd side are common pub-rockers and don't hold the attention for us, demanding listeners - '22 Years' being the better of the 2, though. 'Jonas Psalter' is again a proggy track with scorching guitars and great progressions. More majestic Mellotron bursts finish the song off in a grand way. One of the best songs that guitarist James Young has ever sung. The title track is a super-sonic invention, full of swirling synthesisers and grinding organ, a somewhat plodding rhythm, Curulewski belting out his lines with soaring harmonies. 'Krakatoa' is a tone-poem credited to Curulewski along with electronic whizzes Beaver and Krause. It segues into a Pipe-Organ version of the 'Hallelujah Chorus' with vocals from everyone. As I mentioned, I do enjoy early Styx in all their directionless enthusiasm, and rate this one with 4.5, but rounding it to a 5 as it is their most impressive effort according to my tastes.
Tom Ozric | 5/5 |


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