REVIEW: SONS OF APOLLO – “Psychotic Symphony”
Famous faces, shameless name dropping and dragging up the old catalogues, all seem to go hand in hand, creating a rinse, reuse, recycle formula for when it comes to writing about the recurring banner that surmises anyone who has been in more than one band, that banner is “Super-group”. So let us leave the history at the door, today.
Sons of Apollo, the God of music, are set to bare a musical lovechild of their own in the form of their debut album entitled ‘Psychotic Symphony’. No introductions are needed when it comes to he who is at the helm of it all, Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theatre). Portnoy, being no stranger to side projects, assembled some of the best players in his black book to make up his latest, highly anticipated ensemble. Reuniting with Derek Sherinian, reforming what the two are referred to as The Del Fuvio Brothers, alongside Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (ex- G n’ R, Art of Anarchy), Billy Sheehan (The Winery Dogs) and Jeff Scott Soto (ex- Journey), together these gentlemen of rock have produced a record full of heart, soul and swagger.
While the progressive stylings are evident from the get go, the marriage between straight up hard rock and virtuosity comes crashing through in opening track “God of the Sun” as well as the records leading single “Coming Home”. The synth driven single incorporates a contemporary feel with an old school heart, a fierce combination that drops a lethal, anthemic chorus that refuses to lie down. It is reassuring to hear that the chemistry between Portnoy and Sherinian merely took a hiatus and hasn’t left or been lost since their earlier works. The fluid, easy going nature that comes from playing with someone you know inside and out musically gives this track and many on this record that rare element born of only such unique comradery.
Given the time and eras many of the members that make up S.O.A thrived or peaked in, the hints of Deep Purple, Rush and other progressive rock acts of the 80’s is not misplaced. In fact, it was a welcomed addition and shines at its brightest in tracks such as the belter “Signs of the Time” and particularly in “Divine Addiction” where Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal not only owns these heavyweight stylings, he makes them his own, adapting his sound, in an almost audio chameleonic like manner, catering to both classic and modern rock whether it be during his heavy handed riffing or soaring solos.
However, there are moments that simply don’t shine much at all, such as the instrumental interlude that is “Figaro’s Whore”. But this moment, as it were, is brief and, ultimately, forgiven, as the likes of “Labyrinth” trample any and all mishaps.
“Opis Maximus”, the final track on the record and a rough translation revealing it to mean the greatest work or achievement of a writer, sums up much of how S.O.A feel about this album. The pride felt for ‘Psychotic Symphony’ by the artists whom created it will be shared amongst fans of their respective pasts and bright future, leaving little confusion as to why these musicians have chosen to make Sons of Apollo their priority.