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Styx: The Mission

For years, legendary act Styx had claimed that making new music wasn't much of a priority anymore, as their previous album of all new material, Cyclorama wasn't met with much enthusiasm when it was released way back in 2003. Fast forward to 2017, and the band seemed to have gotten the bug once again, but this time around Styx wanted to put together a concept album that musically harkened back to their glory years. The Mission is the result, a concept laid out by Tommy Shaw and producer Will Evankovich about a mission to Mars that musically has many elements in common with albums such as Crystal Ball, The Grand Illusion, and Paradise Theater, all beloved records in the Styx repertoire.

The bombastic "Overture" kicks things off in fine fashion, an incredible return to their prog rock roots that is part Genesis' "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" as well as their own "Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)", complete with intricate rhythms and soaring synths from Lawrence Gowan. This segues right into the hard rocking lead off single "Gone Gone Gone", an upbeat track littered with insistent vocals from Gowan, thick Hammond organ, and plenty of guitar licks courtesy of Shaw and James Young. It's catchy as hell, and though barely over two minutes long, it's a memorable number. Shaw takes center stage on the bluesy "Hundred Million Miles", part Styx, part Deep Purple, with those great vocal harmonies shining through brightly, while Young snarls on the heavy rocker "Trouble at the Big Show", as blistering guitars combat shimmering keyboards and killer vocal harmonies. Gowan's soul searching keyboards float under Shaw's gorgeous acoustic guitar & vocals on the emotional "Locomotive", another great throwback to the bands legendary output, fusing pop, prog, and rock together perfectly. It's a similar formula on "Radio Silence", again with a lead Shaw vocal and those wonderful layers of backing vocals from the band, and Gowan puts in a fine performance on The Beatles influenced "The Greater Good". Todd Sucherman's intricate drum fills drive the futuristic rocker "Time May Bend", another keyboard & guitar dominated number that morphs into the symphonic, dreamy "Then Thousand Ways" quite seamlessly. The Mission's longest track at just over 6-minutes, "The Red Storm", again enlists the magical skills of Shaw, as his lush acoustic guitar chords and vocals soar over nimble Ricky Phillips bass lines and layers of keyboard tapestries from Gowan. It's another fantastic prog number that will instantly remind of the bands '70s output, and Young even joins the fray with a rampaging hard rock solo before the pastoral finale. The majestic "Khedive" features some gorgeous piano from Gowan and tasty Brian May styled guitar voicing from Shaw & Young, before the bombastic closers "The Outpost" and the title track, vintage Styx multi-layered songs chock full of hard rock guitars, lush acoustics, soaring vocal harmonies, and prog keyboards.

Honestly, this is a very strong album that is an easy recommendation for those who have been following the band from the very beginning and have longed for their return to their prog & pomp roots. While a tad short at about 40 minutes, The Mission doesn't overstay its welcome and delivers the goods in a big way. Is it filled with radio friendly songs for the 'Greatest Hits' crowd? Probably not, but for those that like the more adventurous side of the band, there's a lot to love here in what is easily their best album since Paradise Theater. Huge kudos to Styx for a wonderful and very bold effort.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

Track Listing
1. "Overture"
2. "Gone Gone Gone"
3. "Hundred Million Miles"
4. "Trouble at the Big Show"
5. "Locomotive"
6. "Radio Silence"
7. "The Greater Good"
8. "Time May Bend"
9. "Ten Thousand Ways"
10. "The Red Storm"
11. "All Systems Stable"
12. "Khedive"
13. "The Outpost"
14. "Mission to Mars"

Added: June 25th 2017
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 2040
Language: english

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