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Sons of Apollo - Psychotic Symphony CD (album) cover

PSYCHOTIC SYMPHONY

Sons of Apollo

 

Progressive Metal

3.62 | 59 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
3 stars The family tree of Dream Theater projects is overwhelming as over the years each member has contributed a dizzying amount of collaborations to other projects. Very much is that the case with Mike Portnoy who left one the pioneers of progressive metal in 2010 and has since barely stood still for a second with his many bands such as The Winery Dogs, Flying Colors, Metal Allegiance and his countless Neal Morse projects as well as touring with countless other groups ranging from Twisted Sister to Avenged Sevenfold. In short, the man has remained quite busy but somehow has eschewed the progressive metal scene. That is until the newly founded SONS OF APOLLO entered the scene. Considered a supergroup for great reason, the newly formed band unleash their debut album PSYCHOTIC SYMPHONY and shows Portnoy retracing his footsteps back to the Dream Theater heyday with healthy doses of the multitude of other prog metal bands that followed in their wake.

Once again Portnoy joins up with the equally prolific and ex-Dream Theater superstar Derek Sherinian, who together are the primary architects of the band as songwriters-in-chief and progenitors of an entirely new band that they claim to be the real thing and not a mere one off studio project. Also invited to the mix is the outstanding bassist Billy Sheehan who has worked with such greats as David Lee Roth, Steve Vai, Mr. BIg, Talas and also The Winery Dogs. The group is filled out with vocalist Jeff Scott Solo who got his start on the first two Yngwie Malmsteen albums but also sung for Journey, W.E.T. and Trans-Siberian Orchestra. And finally, the reason i even bothered to check out this SONS OF APOLLO album at all is one of my favorite guitarists on the scene Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal who in addition to having crafted some of the most diverse and creative solo albums has played with Guns N Roses as well as Art of Anarchy. He has also been a fairly prolific producer on the indy underground scene with such artists as Evoken.

Progressive metal has become a bit predictable over the years and although a few bands like Ayreon, Between The Buried And Me, Opeth and Mastodon have found new ways to express themselves within the genre, more often than not the genre is littered with technically gifted musicians retreading already heavily trodden musical pastures and in that regard SONS OF APOLLO marches on in an almost identical trajectory. Yes, the near hour long listening experience is chock full of complex compositions gussied up with heavy guitar riffs, outstanding solos, rich keyboard atmospheric constructs and percussive technical wizardry of stunning virtuosity but guess what. This is the best album Symphony X never made and that's exactly the problem with PSYCHOTIC SYMPHONY in a nutshell and made all the more sad by the fact that this a veritable who's who in the top ranks of musical creative and technical musical expression. Only the expression part is missing.

Back to Bumblefoot. This is a guy who put his heart and soul into his first five albums where every track had more ideas stuffed into them than most bands muster up in a career and while the other members in this musical cast have had more 'normal' careers, they still have had their fingers in many pies and have exemplified a number of styles in the process. PSYCHOTIC SYMPHONY on the other hand is a woefully uninspired by-the-numbers prog metal more in the vein of Symphony X at their most progressive (think 'V') although there are some bursts into symphonic based prog rock moments when Sheridan lets loose on the keyboards. Likewise Bumblefoot dishes out some of his classic squealing guitar solos between the cracks but the problem arises from the compositions themselves as the different suites that make up the tracks sound as if they were lifted verbatim from albums such as 'The Odyssey' or classic Symphony X around the turn of millennium.

Don't get me wrong, this is quite the listenable album and one that is well delivered, divinely produced and dripping with technically challenging workouts with some nods to classic hard rock, however the whole thing comes across as woefully achronistic as if it's a long lost album from the early 2000s that has only now emerged. Add to that, the insipid lyrics and been-there-done-that overall stylistic approach. Yep. Another clone band has emerged made all the more painful by the excellent talent on board. Perhaps these guys have been so busy in their respective projects that somebody forgot to tell them that this stuff is rather overdone at this point in progressive metal history. In short, if you simply can't get enough of the Symphony X style and need to hear a modern day Starcastle does Yes version of progressive metal, by all means check this out, however for yours truly, there are too many other innovative musical gems out there to check out and when i hear this i simply want to push STOP and immediately throw in Symphony X's 'The Divine Wings Of Tragedy' instead. Not a good sign.

siLLy puPPy | 3/5 |

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