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Sons of Apollo

Psychotic Symphony

Review by Gary Hill

Had I heard this album last year, it would have definitely made my best of 2017 list, and been pretty high on the list. This is an amazing album. It could land under heavy metal for sure, but I think there is enough prog here, particularly when added to the pedigree of several of the musicians, for me to put it under progressive rock. This is very heavy, and very complex. Yet, when you are listening, most often you will just enjoy it. The main guys in the band are Mike Portnoy, Billy Sheehan, Derek Sherinian, Jeff Scott Soto and Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, but they are joined by some guest musicians. However you label it, this is an amazing album.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
God of the Sun
The disc is bookended by epic length pieces. This opening one weighs in at over eleven-minutes. It starts with ambient elements that have world music in their midst. They gradually bring it up from there, working within those structures while adding more rock to the mix. A killer middle-Eastern inspired hard rocking jam ensues from there. It becomes a smoking hot cut that seems to dance on the knife edge between heavy metal and progressive rock. This is like Rainbow with the metal and prog elements driven to the stratosphere. This has some seriously soaring moments as it drives forward. It drops back around the five minute mark to an atmospheric section. The keyboards take over, and the vocals return over the top of that, emphasizing the progressive rock elements of the piece. As they bring it back upward after the vocal section there is some cool progressive rock stuff at play. Then a decidedly metal meets Dream Theater kind of thing ensues from there. It works into some fusion meets metal prog territory before they brings it back out into the song proper.
Coming Home
A screaming hot stomper, this is much more along the lines of metal. Again it feels like a more metallic Rainbow merged with some progressive rock elements. While in a lot of ways this is more full-on heavy metal, they bring some prog parts to it, particularly in some of the instrumental sections.
Signs of the Time
Another scorching hot screamer, this has some proggy shifts and turns built into it. The metal parts are pure metal, but when they take this out into an extended jam later in the piece, it's pure hard-edged progressive rock. I dig the mellower movement that comes out of that later, too. There is some particularly amazing guitar soloing later in the track.
Labyrinth

The mix of prog and metal on the beginning of this cut is darn near perfect. That said, around the three minute mark, the whole thing drops back and then fires out to some screaming hot fusion stuff. The prog takes over from there when the vocals join. There are some unusual shifts and turns later as thing works through various changes. This is full on prog rock in a lot of these later sections. Of course, at almost nine and a half minutes of music, this has plenty of room for it. Sherinian gets a chance to put in some intriguing soloing at times. Somehow there is almost a heavier, proggier Deep Purple angle to some of this. The technical neo-classical guitar section, though, makes me think of Yngwie Malmsteen.

Alive
This comes in with a mellower movement that's perhaps not balladic, but definitely prog. It's evocative and powerful. When they power it out from there it gets more metallic elements and really intensifies. There are some pretty amazing musical directions built into this thing. I really dig the echoey guitar solo after the three-minute mark. This is just such a great tune. Of course, everything here is great.
Lost in Oblivion
Keyboards that sound like some kind of air-raid siren start this. They power out from there into something that's part crazed fusion and part heavy metal. While parts of this are more pure metal, the killer jamming that ensues is hard-edged prog rock and really shines. That siren sound is heard again on the instrumental section.
Figaro's Whore
Sherinian really gets a chance to show off on the classically based keyboard solo that makes up this track. I'm reminded a bit of something Jon Lord might have done, but on steroids. This keyboard solo is just a little over a minute long.
Divine Addiction
Speaking of Jon Lord, this is another cut that has a lot of that Deep Purple kind of vibe at its heart. It's a powerful cut that does a great job of riding between prog and metal.
Opus Maximus
A progressive rock turned metallic powerhouse, this one is over ten and a half minutes long. They take this scorching hot instrumental through a number of intriguing shifts and turns. Everyone gets to shine at different points on this thing. I particularly love Sheehan's bass presence in the almost space fusion section around the five minute mark. What a way to end the disc this is.
 
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