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ALBUM REVIEW: Psychotic Symphony – Sons Of Apollo

The term ‘supergroup’ tends to be bounded around quite frequently in this day and age but in this instance it is fully justified. The components of SONS OF APOLLO have played a part in some of the biggest bands in the world including DREAM THEATER, GUNS ‘N ROSES and JOURNEY amongst others and it finally sees the long awaited reunion of Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian after countless years of trying. Their debut album Psychotic Symphony is due for release on 20th October via InsideOut Music / Sony Music and is poised to turn the entire genre of progressive music on it’s head.

In a very bold move the five piece decide to commence proceedings with the longest track on the album in the form of the God Of The Sun trilogy, a collection that was composed mostly by Sherinian and proposed to the band in the studio. The scene is set instantaneously with quirky keyboard virtuosity before introducing energetic riffing and the incredibly powerful tones of Jeff Scott Soto. The vibe is very reminiscent of SYMPHONY X‘s formula of powerful guitars mixed with big sing along segments which are destined to become ingrained in your memory. The progression between chapters is evident as the tempo shifts but is executed with such finesse that it feels so seamless. The instrumental comradery is made visible from the offset as riffs and drum fills are elaborately layered coming at you from all angles in true progressive metal frenzy.

Before SONS OF APOLLO get too carried away they tone down the mania with the no frills and steady infectious beat of Coming Home which is filled with a feel good vibe and punchy riffing guaranteed to get your head nodding along, the perfect single release to get the juices flowing. The other previously released track Signs Of The Time swiftly follows which a gritty almost SEPULTURA like bludgeoning verse riff accompanied by more infectious chorus lines and choppy time changes.

Now the band have flexed their muscles it’s time to transition into Psychotic Symphony‘s next complex spectacle aptly titled Labyrinth. The tense opening and ballad style vocals give an indication of the path this song will take but it is a truly a spectacle to behold. The crazy sweeps on show by Bumblefoot are mind bending, combined with signature Portnoy intricacy and Sherinian‘s flamboyant experimentation it leaves you almost lost for words. Alive changes the pace entirely with an almost early 2000’s nu metal reverb ridden opening with solemn vocals further displaying Soto‘s incredible diversity. Another catchy chorus follows along with some heavy hitting riffs alongside more keyboard wizardry before Bumblefoot constructs some captivatingly chilled Planet Caravan style guitar work.

Lost In Oblivion ups the ante once more with a wailing siren to welcome you to the next bout of thunderous drums and adrenaline fuelled beats. Soto has absolutely nailed the ability to pull off ridiculously inviting choruses as yet again provides some impressive vocal work on this track as Sheehan’s bass skills cuts through the mix nicely. Figaro’s Whore throws a whacky keyboard interlude into the mix resembling what sounds like a revving engine building up into the compelling old school vibe of Divine Addiction which is saturated in memorable hooks and addictive sing-along’s which were destined to be unleashed on a live stage. Bumblefoot and Sherinian also put their masterful stamp all over with some crazy solo work interwoven with Portnoy‘s undeniably endearing drum skills which are so silky they give you goosebumps.

Opus Maximus signifies the conclusion of the album but there was absolutely no chance of SONS OF APOLLO leaving this album on a quiet, tentative note. The evil, sludgy opening sets a very doom metal tinged vibe before launching headfirst into some of the most perplexingly hypnotic instrumentation on display on Psychotic Symphony. By this point every member is bringing their A game all giving a chance to shine and show just why they are revered as some of the best musicians around. As the song progresses through opulent, theatrical drama you can’t help but become engrossed in the sheer talent displayed throughout. Derek Sherinian takes centre stage for large segments of this track with some utterly baffling arrangements which shows that his keyboard prowess is just as vital to this composition  as the guitar work.

Considering the minimal amount of studio time and some of the members only becoming acquainted for the first time when they collectively united to write and record, Psychotic Symphony is a work of art. They have all gelled instantly and the album immediately has the feel of a band of brothers who have been crafting music together for decades. Every member has plenty of opportunities to display their phenomenal level of musicianship throughout and there is a little bit of everything to push your buttons in some shape or form. Some of the lengthier complex arrangements may not be to everyone’s taste but when you see the lineup of talent involved you should already have a vague idea of what you are getting into and what the finished product will sound like. SONS OF APOLLO have made an instant impact with their debut release and everything indicates that they are in this for the long haul as opposed to being a flash in the pan, with the insatiable hunger and drive possessed by the band it would come as no surprise if we witness a second release sooner rather than later.

Rating: 10/10

Psychotic Symmetry - Sons of Apollo

Psychotic Symphony is set for release on October 20th via InsideOut Music/Sony Music.

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