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Sons Of Apollo: Psychotic Symphony

We've heard this tale before, haven't we? A collection of great musos coming together amidst much hype and hyperbole to form what the media label a 'supergroup'. The latest band bestowed that often cursed mantle being Sons Of Apollo, who, as if you didn't already know, comprise two ex-Dream Theater men in the shape of, he's here, he's there, he's absolutely every-blinking-where, drummer Mike Portnoy and current Black Country Communion keyboard man Derek Sherinian. Bringing Portnoy's Winery Dogs mate Billy Sheehan (also of Mr. Big, David Lee Roth, Tallas…….) in on bass, the trio have teamed up with Guns N' Roses guitarist (although, to be fair, most people have held down that position for at least a day or two) Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal and Talisman, Yngwie Malmsteen, Trans Siberian Orchestra singer Jeff Scott Soto. Even having already name-checked a whole host of bands that these guys have performed in or with, it would probably be possible to fill the rest of this review with others. Fair to suggest then that in the supergroup league, we're talking A-list, top division, no mucking about stuff. Obviously it's destined for failure, right?

Psychotic Symphony has other ideas, the band's debut (hopefully they'll be more… please let there be more!) side stepping comparisons with anything these guys have done before, even if it does neatly fold into the drawer marked progressive metal. With five stellar contributors there's no secret weapon here, after all it's no shock whatsoever that Portnoy and Sheehan have an almost mental rhythmical link, or that Sherinian locks in with that duo quite stunningly. To be fair, if you've previously thought that Bumblefoot was only good for knocking out covers of "Paradise City" and "Sweet Child O' Mine", then his blistering lead work, thunderous riff mastery and all round technical excellence may be something of a knock me sideways discovery. JSS on the other hand is already known as a vocal chameleon, belting out AOR anthems, grandiose symphonic rock and balls out metal with ease. Let's simply add prog rock to that list of genres ruled over and nod approvingly. His contribution bringing power, accessibility and so much more to this feast.

Harder, heavier and more, well, genuine than a huge swathe of what we often expect from prog metal, where the strength of Psychotic Symphony truly lies is the tightness of its songwriting. Don't get me wrong, the technical wizardry of opener "God Of The Sun" or throbbing metal mass of "Signs Of The Time" offer up numerous instrumental sections that have you shaking your head in disbelief, swap time signatures at will, and provide copious multi-instrumental battles. However, that's not the point here. Instead, as you have your eardrums singed by the stinging lead lines or dumbfounded by the percussive trickery, so the groove picks you up and carries you away, just as the choruses have you singing along. These are songs, not 'pieces'. That they're unashamedly presented by a group of musicians of the highest calibre simply allows it all to sound natural, unforced and organic in a way that little prog metal does, or even wants to.

Impressively the same can be said throughout, "Labyrinth" reminding of a more brutish Kip Winger solo cut, as various ethnic influences are built into the sort of eastern groove Jimmy Page would have given his violin bow for, while "Divine Addiction" and its Hammond habit give mind to what Uriah Heep might have sounded like had they formed 25 years later. Sherinian does get a chance to show off on the short instrumental "Figaro's Whore" (who said Emerson Lake and Palmer???) and Bumblefoot likewise on the long voiceless closer "Opus Maximus", but even these more indulgent moments never leave you hanging around too long for a killer riff, glinting hook or way in to this band's way of thinking.

I could go on (and on and on…) but you're getting the message here. Sons Of Apollo are the real deal. They'll cut whatever mustard you have to hand and they have their climbing gear ready to scale any musical heights you care mention. And yet, you'll remember this album most because the songs it contains have been cannily crafted and cared for well beyond the stroking of egos, or desire to showcase talent. With the schedules these guys keep, it would be a huge surprise if the quintet assembled decide to fully concentrate on Sons Of Apollo. We can only hope, pray and dream that they do.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

Track Listing
1. God of the Sun
2. Coming Home
3. Signs of the Time
4. Labyrinth
5. Alive
6. Lost in Oblivion
7. Figaro's Whore
8. Divine Addiction
9. Opus Maximus

Added: November 27th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Sons Of Apollo online
Hits: 4636
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Sons Of Apollo: Psychotic Symphony
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2017-11-27 21:38:47
My Score:

Supergroup : a rock group made up of prominent former members of other rock groups; also : an extremely successful rock group. Merriam-Webster

While the second point is unknowable at the moment as only time will tell, there is no doubting the potential of this group of musicians. These musical heavy weights include drummer Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater), keyboardist Derek Sherinian (ex-Dream Theater, Black Country Communion, Planet X), guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal (ex-Guns N' Roses), bassist Billy Sheehan (Niacin, Talas, The Winery Dogs, Mr. Big, David Lee Roth) and Jeff Scott Soto (ex-Journey, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force, Trans-Siberian Orchestra).

It's an intimidating list of musicians with credentials to match. On paper this group sounds like a progressive metaller's dream band so my anticipation and expectations were high before giving this an initial spin. Well, for lack of better words, I am blown away. Psychotic Symphony is an absolutely outstanding release. Okay, let's get right to it.

The disc opens with the epic "God Of The Sun", an outstanding first track that lets the listener know what this band is all about. Dramatic effects and a virtuosic display of sitar begin a theme of exotic Eastern tones, especially in the guitar. A hearty scream from Soto begins the song in earnest as all band members ramp up their playing and the riffs come fast and heavy matching the pounding force of Portnoy's drums. The music calms down into a more atmospheric sound at various times putting an exclamation point on the heavy riffs. This band is unbelievably tight with ultra-fast staccato rhythms being played with ease. It may sound like I am describing a progressive metal wankfest but that is not the case at all. The solos are well placed totally serving the song. Really, this is about the song and not about the individual players although both are served incredibly well. Next up is the classic style heavy metal of "Coming Home", a catchy powerful track with strong vocals, muscular riffs and shred-like guitar soli. This isn't wall-of-sound stuff as all the instruments are clearly identified and given room to breathe especially when they slow it down and Sherinan's keyboards take the forefront. On cue Soto lays down another roaring scream signifying the rest of the band to launch into the heaviness once again. The heavy rock of "Signs Of The Time" features a significant contribution from Sheehan as his bass is thick and full and the driving force here. Add in a cool synth solo from Sherinian and you have the making of another great track. Another longish track is "Labyrinth" where the riffs vary in intensity and Sherinian's keyboard arrangement is a focal point. His solo adds an Eastern tinge, in keeping with the first track and more great playing from Thal bordering on neoclassical at times hits the mark. You might think the melodic factor has been lost on these musicians but nothing could be further from the truth. The hooks, whether musically or vocally are abundantly present.

The last track "Opus Maximus" ends the disc in epic fashion. This is instrumental progressive metal with stellar pace changes, huge riffs, moody introspection, great keys and a beast of a rhythm section. Just a great ending track.

For hard rock, heavy metal or progressive metal fans I don't think you can go wrong with Psychotic Symphony. This one stuck almost immediately and I don't see it being far from my playlist any time soon.

An InsideOut Music release.

Sons Of Apollo: Psychotic Symphony
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2017-11-04 08:02:06
My Score:

We all know the pedigree of the individual members of new superstar band Sons of Apollo, but do they live up to the billing on their InsideOut Records debut Psychotic Symphony? The answer quite simply is YES! This is easily one of the best debuts from a heavy metal/progressive metal supergroup we've heard in ages, which, on paper, looked like an odd fit at best but works on all levels. Portnoy and Sheehan have plenty of experience working together, and at this time are a formidable rhythm team, while Pornoy and Sherinian of course have that Dream Theater history together, so really the wildcards here are Soto and Thal, which, thankfully, the vocalist and guitar shredder do not disappoint. Bumblefoot's massive riffing and blazing lead guitar work is firmly imprinted all throughout Psychotic Symphony, with Sherinian's dizzying prog-rock & fusion explorations following along at every direction, while Mr. Soto adds that soaring, melodic, and dramatic vocal style that he's been perfecting since his early days with Yngwie Malmsteen. "God of the Sun" is monstrously heavy and filled with proggy goodness, "Coming Home" is grinding yet catchy, "Signs of the Times" contains a wealth of groove (Portnoy & Sheehan working overtime!), "Labyrinth" is all about symphonic prog, "Divine Addiction" all about paying homage to vintage Deep Purple, and "Opus Maximus" sees the band dive into dark, instrumental prog not unlike King Crimson. Glorious stuff.

Yeah, Psychotic Symphony is good, really good, as Sons of Apollo have struck gold on their maiden outing together, and here's hoping this is the start of a long career together for this band of heavyweights.

» Reader Comments:

Sons Of Apollo: Psychotic Symphony
Posted by Progger on 2017-11-24 09:38:43
My Score:

Solid debut and as for JSS he's been on many great releases but I can't recommend the self titled and one off full album by the group Humanimal enough it's still so good, and I'd certainly take it over this one.

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