Prog-metal supergroup Sons Of Apollo try to formulate a ‘Psychotic Symphony’
Adam Flores | Senior Writer
“Psychotic Symphony” – Sons of Apollo 💿💿💿
Within the music world, there’s something to take note of and be said when a supposed supergroup-to-end-all-supergroups conglomerate emerges to define the ideology and hermeneutical voice of a genre. Fans of Dream Theater, Symphony X, Mastodon and Animals as Leaders, as well as many other groups in the prog-rock/metal world, have long waited for such a uniting of key personnel each with innovative musicianship and contemporary progressive ideas aside from the establishment.
Sons Of Apollo is that ictus incorporating a who’s who lineup of today’s progressive rock and metal. With their debut power set, “Psychotic Symphony,” released on Oct. 20, the band seeks to unite their respective instrumental musical prowess to give listeners a generous in-your-face incursion of contemporary prog-metal improvisation.
Consisting of former Dream Theater members Mike Portnoy on drums and keyboardist Derek Sherinian, former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, veteran bass shredder Billy Sheehan (Talas, Mr. Big) and vocalist Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie Malmsteen, Trans-Siberian Orchestra), Sons of Apollo represents a new group of veteran musicians that could be defined as ‘the world’s most dangerous band.’
With “Psychotic Symphony” now available to stalwart listeners and fans of progressive metal, there is no doubt there are many coherent, stellar moments worth listening to again and again. “Coming Home” is a prime example of exemplary songwriting forged in sufficient production showcasing each member of the band, giving plenty for the ear to listen and latch onto in terms of melodic lyricism and musicality. The rest of the compilation, however, veers off course.
Although the final track, “Opus Maximus,” is just that in terms of Sons Of Apollo’s epic conclusion or recapitulation to their debut in-the-studio progfest, many of the other tracks within “PS” meander a bit with impressive yet forgettable musical ideas and arrangements throughout.
“Labyrinth” begins with signature dark rock/metal riffs and motifs as Soto examines his psychological state declaring, “I’m chipping away at my denial with my innocence on trial / It’s all the same, an endless maze with no tomorrow.” However, after a short lyrical presentation, the band quickly falls into a different world with an abundance of tightly wound unison instrumental lines in 9/8 alternating with 4/4 vocal figures, then moving into other unchartered musical territories later in the song.
One of the album’s shorter tracks, “Lost in Oblivion,” packs a punch, musically. Through the systematic chaos and sonic theory of “how many notes can you play in a given timeframe,” Portnoy and Sherinian’s DT influence is prevalent throughout.
What does not help the campaign are the unimaginative lyrical ideas throughout “Psychotic Symphony,” which often present themselves as a way for the musicians to justify their heavy grooves, motifs and riffs and more importantly, as a permission slip to launch into instrumental shredfest psychosis.
“Divine Addiction” is a surprise track embedded within “Psychotic Symphony” that borrows from the classic Deep Purple soundset with Sherinian showcasing his Hammond B3 chops and the band staying within the parameters of a rock 4/4 groove. Near the fadeout, Portnoy employs some polyrhythmic fun, yet stays in control of the foundational meter.
Though “Psychotic Symphony” is worth a listen in terms of superior musicianship and production, their inaugural set serves as proof that you don’t always get the best product incorporating the best ingredients. A more focused approach to songwriting in terms of form and structure with a lyrically insightful narrative (e.g., as found on a Dream Theater record) for the listener would prove invaluable in making Sons Of Apollo a true supergroup within the progressive rock and metal genres.
💿 – Face palm.
💿💿 – Eh…
💿💿💿 – We’re getting there.
💿💿💿💿 – I’ll listen to it twice, even.
💿💿💿💿💿 – Hell yes!