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Progressive Rock CD Reviews


Crash of the Crown

Review by Gary Hill

The last album from Styx, The Mission, was my pick for best album of the year when it came out. I would argue that the disc might be the best disc the band ever did. It was fairly universally acclaimed as their best in many years. So, that meant that there was a lot of pressure for the follow up. Did this live up to it? If you mean is it as strong as that album, right now I'd say "no." Then again, over time this might grow on me, as most meaty music does. Even today, though, I would say that it's very likely to make my "best of 2021" list. The biggest issue is that the previous disc was such a masterpiece that it set the bar very high. This is a great disc, without the baggage of comparing it to that one.

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Track by Track Review
The Fight Of Our Lives
Killer synthesizer work opens this track. The band come in and drive it forward from there. This has some smoking hot AOR prog built into that is trademark Styx. I love the guitar break on this. There is a little Beatlesish instrumental thing at the end of the track.
A Monster
The prog instrumentation at the start of this is again pure Styx. The cut grows out from there to more of a melodic rocker. It still has plenty of prog as the tune continues to evolve and grow. There are a number of different movements.
I like the acoustic guitar sounds at the start of this. The number begins to drive outward and grow as it continues. The harder rocking jamming later along the road is purely on fire.
Hold Back The Darkness
Pretty keyboard textures are on display as this gets underway. Acoustic guitar rises upward before the vocals enter. As it gets more rocking, I'm reminded of Pink Floyd's Wall era. The powered up anthemic chorus is powerful. This is rather quirky, but also quite cool.
Save Us From Ourselves
Piano rises upward here and after a spoken sound bite (I believe it's Winston Churchill), harder rocking textures take over.  It drives forward before a dropped down piece brings another sound bite. A final hard rocking jam really brings it all to a close in style. This is trademark Styx.
Crash Of The Crown
The title track powers in with a lot of proggy bombast. James Young's vocals enter as the cut drops back a bit. The piece keeps evolving and exploring from there. A killer synthesizer break drives it into the next movement. That's a quirky kind of melodic jam that is unusual. As it continues to grow it takes on more typical Styx sounds. The instrumental break that follows is packed full of proggy goodness. From there we're taken into a section that feels like the proggy edge of Queen. That movement takes the piece to its closing.
Our Wonderful Lives
An acoustic guitar dominated melodic rock sound opens this piece. It grows outward with a pretty typical Styx anthemic rock vibe of the power-ballad variety.
Common Ground
A rather bombastic and anthemic rocker, this is classy stuff and trademark Styx. The prog instrumental break on this is a real powerhouse.
Sound The Alarm
There are plenty of symphonic elements in the mix here. This is AOR prog, but decidedly progressive rock. The cut has some lush and rich moments and is particularly dynamic and powerful. This is trademark Styx at its best.
Long Live The King
This is a driving number. It has plenty of progressive rock and classic Styx texture at its heart. The cut has so many varied movements and textures. It's quite possibly my favorite number here.
Lost At Sea
This short piece, just over half-a-minute, is based largely around keyboards and vocals. It's a surprisingly developed and complete sound for something so brief.
Coming Out The Other Side
I love the rich and dense vocal arrangement on this song. The whole AOR prog concept here is so strong, though. This is another particularly effective piece on a potent album.
To Those
More powerhouse AOR prog, this is another that has plenty of trademark Styx in the mix. It has some killer hard-rocking elements, great hooks and a lot of meat on the musical bones. The instrumental break that fires out later in the track is short, but so potent in prog majesty.
Another Farewell
This is a brief orchestral sounding keyboard interlude.
I love the restrained and yet unusual musical arrangement that serves as the background for the vocals on this tune. The number turns out to a more moving section before it's over and done.
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