Sons Of Apollo - MMXX

Sons Of Apollo MMXX cover
Sons Of Apollo
InsideOut Music
I thought the debut of Sons Of Apollo was a pretty decent prog metal album, from a supergroup that felt a little disjointed, despite all of the people involved in it being awesome players. “MMXX” comes a short time after, with a tour under the band’s collective belt and a Jeff Scott Soto that seems to be working throughout the year on different projects, yet is able to afford the material fairly spirited promotions.
Mike Portnoy still tries to shine through, with his plethoric drumming cutting high through the mix, on which pretty much everyone tries to not outdo the other, at least not all the time. I suppose with this band being the closest thing to his former band, than all the projects/bands he got involved with, expectations were by default somewhat higher, but while the music of Sons Of Apollo is certainly virtuosic, it’s not as soullessly technocratic, as most of Theater’s recent output was.
When I first heard, opener “Goodbye Divinity”, I can’t say I was completely enthralled and I still think it meanders a little longer than it should, but at least, I can now, get it a bit…
As for “Wither to Black”, I am sure there’s a pretty good song in there trapped somewhere between the busy verses, the somewhat underwhelming chorus that doesn’t stand out and the insane solo that does, but not in the best possible way in a song, that’s rather short. It feels like a collection of things that I don’t like about Dream Theater, laying waste to a basically good idea.
Similarly, “Asphyxiation” feels like something SOTO the band could have conceived, executed in a far more complex way, but ultimately, only impressing in part and not throughout.
Soto is really more at ease and delivers on a simpler more melodic tune, like the heavy and brooding charged semi-ballad that “Desolate July” is. This feels like “Load” era Metallica, but with better vocals. Despite its main riff not being the most original thing ever, it’s one of the better songs here and the fluid lead that concludes it is just beautifully apt.
“King of Delusion” feels like mediocre DT, with a Zakk Wylde riff pinched and peppered in there without a melody to counter it, resulting in a generic and not particularly engaging track that fails to rise above mediocrity. Yeah, the solo’s good as one would expect, but when the entire song around it fails to register… it’s quite a moot point.
“Fall to Ascend” is the other song that was released as a single. It begins with this very rhythmical downtuned almost tribal riff/drum+bass driven intro and manages to release the tension with a very convincing chorus, lightening up just enough to quickly go into a very Theateresque middle that includes, the kitchen sink and everybody in the band, but does so in an uncharacteristically pleasant and inspired way. With both people playing off each other but also converging at times. It actually shows there’s some cool chemistry between the band-members, which could work.
“Resurrection Day” uses the aforementioned chemistry to fuel it’s similar, but different enough vibe, which gets a tad more eastern, vibe… think your average Theater song with Soto, just looking Rainbow “Rising”, with the corner of his eyes… that sort of thing. Not bad. Not bad at all.
Last but not least, “New World Today”, which clocks at an impressive fifteen minutes begins with some bluesy fusion jamming (around three minutes), that a riff and JSS sort of disrupt with three minutes of song, then all hell breaks loose for another minute of instrumental insanity, then JSS just slam rhymes for a couple of more minutes, for the song to go into more and more funked up, prog territory, until it simmers down around the ten minute mark, for some introspection that the crazy keys of one Derek Sherinian shake up in a way that’s alluring as it is melodic and twisted and it leads to a beautiful coda that’s enriched with some poignant, melodic vocals and mild interlacing between them and the keys until the song comes to a satisfying conclusion.
But a few good and a few so-so songs don’t make this a great album, despite its arrival, barely on the heels of the debut and with a live album, as well, in between the two, I think there’s a bit of a saturation. I wouldn’t mind a third SOA album, but take the time to make it a really great one. Take a couple of years or more if you have to… it doesn’t have to come next year and after another live album… Y’know?!