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5 stars After 20 years of waiting, Styx finally returns with an album worthy of their name. Fans who were disappointed by the lackluster "Brave New World" in 1999, or the news of the departure of Dennis DeYoung, were surprised to find that Styx came back with one of the strongest albums in their entire career. Any Styx fans who have not heard this album owe it to themselves to pick up a copy immediatly, as you will find new reasons to fall in love with the band again. This is the Styx of the new millenium...and we hope they keep on rockin' into the next millenium as well...
Report this review (#17421)
Posted Friday, December 26, 2003 | Review Permalink
4 stars To paraphrase a famous commentator, rumors of Styx' demise are complete crap. These melodic rock / pomp stalwarts followed their surprisingly strong, coherent reunion effort, "Brave New World," with this even more surprising, even stronger, far less coherent disunion effort, "Cyclorama."

Whereas "Brave New World" fused Styx principals Tommy Shaw, James "JY" Young, and Dennis "DDY" DeYoung in a welcome revision of the classic Styx sound, "Cyclorama" is (controversially) the first Styx album without mainman/ keyboardist/ singer DeYoung. DDY's soaring vocals are missed, but all other essences of Styx are retained by the impressive new lineup, which also features Glen Burtnik on bass guitar and well credentialed newcomer Lawrence Gowan on keyboard. From somewhere within the band's roster comes not only the chemistry and rock guitars that fans expect (credit Shaw and JY) but also the flashes of keyboard brilliance and dramatic pomp / rock songwriting that might have evaporated from Styx in DDY's absence. The result is a new Styx sound that reflects both energetic novelty and Styx' cornerstone elements. Indeed, listeners need to return to Styx' "Cornerstone" years for Styx output that rivals "Cyclorama's" standout cut "One With Everything" for pure hard pomp power.

Nonetheless, "Cyclorama" is a new sound, in large part because it is no single sound: It sprawls all over the stylistic map, from compact, introspective classic rock ("Waiting For The Time"), to pop-punk-touched workouts ("Kiss Your Ass Goodbye"), delicate guitar ballads ("Yes I Can"), radio-ready hard guitar pop ("Do It My Way"), classic Stygian light-pomp drama ("These Are The Times"), classic JY-voiced melodic metal ("Captain America"), and deep, sweeping ballads ("Fields Of The Brave"). The disc can be played in random order (shuffle mode) with almost no loss of impact.

Yet the disc does make a lasting impact: Although the band has not yet found a focus, they have found the core of a sound to distinguish them and unite the album's myriad styles. Moreover, they can still write great songs, and although few "Cyclorama" cuts are outright killers, all are impressively memorable with deep, resonating power -- especially for longtime fans who might have feared that Styx would never again release a record with this much pure artistic merit. Ultimately, "Cyclorama" is easily the best Styx album since "Paradise Theater" (maybe since "Pieces Of Eight"!), an absolutely essential purchase for Styx fans, and an enormously worthy discovery for anybody into convention-busting vision in melodic rock music. It is not their most immediate or accessible album, but it is among their most rewarding.

Report this review (#17422)
Posted Tuesday, July 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars Well, I like the cameo from Billy Bob Thorton. Not being a big SHAW fan, this probably wasn't going to be one I'd like a lot. There's a few OK songs on it, and if you love TOMMY then it's probably a must have. I like what DeYOUNG brought to STYX and for me, was most of the magic of STYX. 'Kiss your Ass' is pretty good. There are a few good lyrical moments as well as some very cheesy ones. I must say, maturiy has helped TOMMY and his vocal style and for that I'm pleased. There is a short tribute to 'GRAND ILLUSION' which is well, hmmm. The best song is 'One with Everything' it sounds like a 'prog' song, with good guitar and keyboard hooks.
Report this review (#17423)
Posted Friday, October 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Do you wonder what the cover is all about on this Styx CD? I do. It may refer to the proverbial dangling carrot, who knows. In the booklet with the CD, there are references to carrots throughout; it is a mystery to me. There is one thing I am certain of though, this band still kicks ass going into their fourth decade of recording. Those of you still whining about Dennis De Young not being with the band, get over it, he is gone. They are unaffected by his absence, and seem to be doing just fine. They have a new fresh lineup that sounds fantastic; in fact, if they did not have that shakeup they probably would not have survived as a band and you would be reading solo album reviews of JY and Tommy Shaw material on a more regular basis than a Styx review.

Everyone gets equal time in this band with each member contributing songs and vocals. A real nice mix gives them a range that they did not have in the classic rock '70s lineup. Those were great times with many memorable albums recorded. In 2003, you can chalk up another one for them in the classic albums category. At one time, they were a leading progressive rock band; now they are a great rock 'n' roll band, plain and simple. That works just fine and dandy for me thank you very much.

There are so many great tunes on this album. The lead off track "Do Things My Way" has hit single written all over it. Loaded with smart hooks while rocking along hard to maintain their familiar sound, this song will not get out of your head any time soon. The thing I really appreciate about these guys is that you can always understand what they are singing. A lot of the time, I base my reviews on music alone because I cannot understand a blasted word. I guarantee by the time you listen to this album the second time you will be singing right along. They have a good sense of humor and use their lyrics to point at the truths of the heart and the irony that life can bring. "Bourgeois Pig" and "Kiss Your Ass Goodbye" are prime examples of that attitude and approach to their presentation. I thought the time machine effect of using a song from Grand Illusion was cool in "Fooling Yourself (Palm Of Your Hands)," which runs only 39 seconds, then launches into a rockin' track called "Captain America." "Waiting For Our Time" is another killer track and one that will become a favorite at concerts I am sure. All of their music comes complete with soaring vocals and harmonies bolstered by lively guitars, the trademark of this band. JY and Tommy play and sing as if their lives depended on it. I think that it keeps them young and hungry. They are more than the core element of this band, they push the other group members to levels that they have never been before. There is some electric chemistry going on here, which is a rare thing in any group that has been around as long as they have.

Okay youngsters, you think this is an old group that Mom and Dad used to listen to, well, that may be true but they still can rock your soul today just as they did when they started back in the day. Very few bands can do that in this day age and you can read me my last rights if it is not true.

Report this review (#17424)
Posted Wednesday, January 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars Oh this just sucks. Dennis is missed. Brave new world was OK, but this one doesn't work. I think the band could continue without Tommy Shaw, and they did for a while-- but they can't go on without Dennis. Tommy is really good on his own and I like his work with Blades, but he's always been more of a solo artist in my opinion. I'd go to a Tommy Shaw concert any day, but having him lead Styx is not a good idea. I did see this version of Styx live, and I was not impressed (and I've seen them many times). Maybe it's because I'm from Illinois and had been a fan of Styx since before Tommy joined. Dennis is a 'different' lead singer/band leader, but he IS Styx.
Report this review (#37111)
Posted Tuesday, June 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars CYCLORAMA is in many ways a return to form, even without founder Dennis DeYoung. My favorite track here, for several reasons, is the beautifully dark "These Are The Times." Finally we have something that harkens back to the days of their moodier writing, something that made me appreciate Styx so much to begin with. James Young's vocals here are possibly some of his best ever, and the writing team of Young / Shaw is as exciting as ever before.

Lawrence Gowan takes over for DDY and although nowhere near Dennis's vocal ability, he still has a voice that fits this music perfectly and his keyboard playing is certainly up to par with everyone's sorely missed Dennis. His "Fields Of The Brave" is also one of this discs gems and a wonderful addition to the live set, fitting in perfectly with some of the band's classic material. Keyboards haven't been so wonderfully prevalent on a Styx disc since possibly the PARADISE THEATER album in 1980.

Glen Burtnik, the band's ex-guitarist / vocalist, returned bassist / vocalist, and now ex- member alltogether, also shines here. His voice is wonderful and I thought he'd be a welcome addition to the new Styx, and I was right. Too bad he had to get out wile he did, becuase I have high hopes for next year's follow-up to CYCLORAMA, and I'm not sure if Ricky Phillips can fill these shoes. Memorable tunes of Glen's include the Green Day-esque (what the hell you ask) "Kiss Your Ass Goodbye" and the amazing "Killing The Thing That You Love." The end of that song, where the dual guitar harmonies kick in, has classic Styx written all over it!!!

Tommy Shaw completely took over on the amazing CRYSTAL BALL album, and was the writer of many of the band's hits and best album tracks up to and including those on KILROY WAS HERE and BRAVE NEW WORLD.

I may be a bit biased on Styx material simply because I am such a fan of their music, but this disc deserves all 4 stars I have awarded it. For fans who loved the classic Styx era check this out and you will not be let down. Just forget about Dennis, put the headphones on and get lost in their lush harmonies and amazing songwriting ability!!

This would be a 5 star disc if not for the filler material of "Bourgeois Pig", and "Fooling Yourself." Tommy's apparent solo leftover "Together" isn't all that great and may sound more at home on either of his first two solo discs. James Young's "Captain America" also falls short but would have been a nice addition to his "City Slicker" solo debut in the 1980's. Buy this, download it, steal it...whatever! You gotta hear this before you write Styx off as a nostalgia band!!!!!

Report this review (#37714)
Posted Sunday, June 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Kiss your originality goodbye

Released in 2003, "Cyclorama" was Styx first release without key founding member Dennis DeYoung. The album however finds Styx treading the water of unchallenging melodic pop rock. It consists entirely of the band's well worn diet of upbeat anthems designed to please the crowds at live gigs, plus "Babe" clone ballads.

"Do things my way" opens the album in Bon Jovi like fashion, with some designer guitar fuelled stadium rock. "Kiss your ass goodbye" has almost rap like verses and a light punk pop feel to the choruses. The melody of the choruses is very similar to "Where you going now" by Damn Yankees but played a little faster. "Fooling yourself" has rougher vocals, giving a Grand Funk Railroad flavour.

Of the softer tracks, "Yes I can" is for me the best track on the album, being a harmonic acoustic number, along the lines of Extreme's surprise hit single "More than words". "These are the times" is slightly more structured, but still ventures little from being pop rock.

The closing track "Genki Desu Ka" has a chanted repeating theme, a bit like a cross between the Doobie Brothers and some of King Crimson's 80's work. Although shown as being a 6 minute piece, the track includes a hidden element which contains a phased reprise of "Kiss your ass goodbye" and a harmonised message to close.

Styx have never been truly progressive band, and have always sat on the edge of this site in terms of their musical style. With "Cyclorama", they played it disappointingly safe by churning out a collection of songs which could have been recorded at pretty much any time in their career. Tracks such as "More love for the money" and "Killing the thing that you love" start out deceptively by hinting that they may be in some way different but all to soon the standard Styx chorus comes in, and reminds us that this is a band who appear to have foregone all ambition and adopted the sole objective of resting on their laurels.

Report this review (#73629)
Posted Friday, March 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Giant hovering carrot ahead! 'Cyclorama', a really good album, is legendary rockers Styx's fourteenth studio release, coming to life in early 2003, after being recorded the previous year. This is the band's first 21st century album, their first without founding member Dennis DeYoung, and their first pretty solid release for a long time. This album is essentially a collection of songs, band efforts, that take on different moods, various topics, and great techniques to make up for a pretty good studio album. This one could generally be classified as hard rock, although it goes to so many different directions (given the presence of 14 tracks!), that I would prefer to safely term it Styx-rock.

The line-up is fantastic - Tommy Shaw on vocals and guitars, James "JY" Young on vocals and guitars, Lawrence Gowan on keys and vocals, Todd Sucherman behind the drums, and Glenn Burtnik on vocals and bass; Chuck Panozzo makes a brief 'cameo' on two of the songs on here. Being a band effort, one can imagine that 'Cyclorama' is a very rich album in terms of sounds, every song is an entity of its own, but albums with more than ten tracks can sometimes make the listener anxious. Not this time. The giant carrot album seems to flow effortlessly between the different moods and styles, making up for an enjoyable rock album by a now-mature band. The songs on 'Cyclorama' are generally very accessible, as one would expect with a band like Styx, but there are also some heavier numbers and a couple of proggy moments here and there, and this quasi-eclecticism is an aspect to be applauded.

Among the highlights of the record are the opener 'Do Things My Way', the cool and punchy 'Bourgeois Pig' (why isn't this song longer is beyond me), the sing-along track 'Kiss Your Ass Goodbye' and the powerful 'These Are the Times', a song that could easily be applied to any age. The Beatles-esque 'More Love for the Money' is another fun track, 'Captain America' is a great hard-rocker, 'One with Everything' is the grandiose prog episode on the album, and 'Genki Desu Ka' is a soothing and interesting album closer.

The unfavorable initial reviews of this 2003 release are a bit of a mystery to me; Certainly, 'Cyclorama' is not a ground-breaking album at all, but it is a severely solid release by a seasoned group of rockers who know what they are doing. So, beware that giant hovering carrot!

Report this review (#2583478)
Posted Wednesday, August 4, 2021 | Review Permalink

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