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Sons of Apollo - Psychotic Symphony CD (album) cover

PSYCHOTIC SYMPHONY

Sons of Apollo

 

Progressive Metal

3.62 | 58 ratings

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horza
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Sons of Apollo are playing my home town soon. I don't live in a city with an Enormo-Dome so I was gobsmacked to learn that they will be performing 10 minutes walk from my front door. I was thus inspired to submit my first review for a couple of years now. It goes without saying that their album 'Psychotic Symphony' has been getting major rotation, so that I could pretend I know what the hell I'm talking about. Everyone knows about the Dream Theater connection within the band, but I have to go on record by saying that EVERYONE in this band pulls their weight. Mike Portnoy is a drumming god, Derek Sherinian is an awesome keyboard player, Billy Sheehan likewise a fabulous musician and Jeff Scott Soto has an amazing voice. I'm not going to disrespect the current DT singer, but I think Jeff has more of a vocal presence and authority. Not that I want James LaBrie replaced or anything, but I think if you merged SOA and DT then James might be one of the casualties. The real surprise for me was Bumblefoot. He blew me away and can fire out salvos of blistering solos, and then have moments of melodic genius.

The album opens with 'God of the Sun' and builds slowly with a Far Eastern vibe. It soon goes into Prog Metal overdrive and reminds me of Symphony X. I actually got into Symphony X before Dream Theater, and only became aware of DT when Symphony X supported them back in the day, around 10 years ago. I came away from that gig, wondering how I had missed out on DT for so long. This opening track is an epic, featuring a battle between Apollo and the encroaching darkness. No prizes for guessing who wins. Sort of wins. It's a cycle of sunlight and darkness out there, unless I've missed a memo.

'Coming Home' is a catchy Nickelback-esque track which opens with a recurring keyboard riff which burrows into your skull. Guilty pleasure confession - I like Nickelback, so I don't mind seeing similarities, particularly in the vocals. I obviously mean Nickelback in Prog-mode to the max. We then have a few bars near the end that reminds me of The Who, the guitar especially. This is a rock album isn't it?

'Signs of the Time' opens with Billy Sheehan's bass thudding away at the back of your cranium. It is another catchy number but less commercial than 'Coming Home'. Is commercial a dirty word? Should the music always be challenging and difficult to get into? This was apparently the first song written by the band when they got together and it features some jaw-droppingly phenomenal guitar from Bumblefoot.

'Labyrinth' opens with a string ensemble. Soto's voice sounds a little hoarse to me. I'm sure that was what he was aiming. The throat lozenges kick in and he quickly resumes normal service. I love his vocals, I really do. I hope that band stick around for a while as he deserves more recognition. I can hear some ELP keyboard influences around the 3 minutes mark (and later on) which then goes via Patrick Moraz into DT territory. Another excellent track, and later on Jon Lord makes an appearance (sort of). I love keyboards and synthesisers in bands, always have. Derek Sherinian is up there with the best of them.

'Alive' is the catchiest track on the album. For some reason it reminds me of the DT song 'Forsaken'. Both songs are now back to back on my latest Spotify playlist. The song features my favourite Bumblefoot moment - a breathtakingly beautiful solo around the 3 and a half minute mark. Just so damn gorgeous it is.

'Lost in Oblivion' opens with a synth-siren and is another memorable song. Rocks along and reminds me of Rainbow meets Symphony X. Jeff Scott Soto is a revelation on this song and throughout the album. He really anchors the band with his commanding vocals.

'Figaro's Whore' is an instrumental which conjures up Jon Lord just in time for his influence to be plastered all over the next track, 'Divine Addiction'. Ladies and gentlemen, on Hammond Organ I give you the ghost of Mr Jon Lord. I loved Jon in Deep Purple and Whitesnake. He was in my top 5 players and Derek Sherinian pays homage to him in sections of this track. It's perfectly fine to have influences - we all know what we like. I like Sons of Apollo.

'Opus Maximus' is an Opus Maximus. It is where the band remind you that they can play extremely well. Jeff Scott Soto gets to go for a pint at the bar. When this band play in my home town I can meet him at the bar and buy him a pint and say "You guys raaaawk man!" and other rockismic cliches.

horza | 4/5 |

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