Sons Of Apollo - Psychotic Symphony

Sons Of Apollo Psychotic Symphony cover
Sons Of Apollo
Psychotic Symphony
InsideOut Music
Calling yourself sons of the God of Music in ancient Greece is a tall order. You seek to have yourself measured up quite strictly and despite your parchments, it’s easy to be found guilty of musical hybris.
Jeff Scott Soto, Bumblefoot, Billy Sheehan and the ex-DT duo of Derek Sherinian and Mike Portnoy are all famous musicians in their own right and virtuosos one and all, but for one reason or another they seem to often to be doing work outside the confines of their respective bands, others because they were kicked out/resigned, others because they need the money, others because they are simply unable to sit still and not be involved in something new and exciting.
Seemingly born out of jamming and quickly after a public performance, announcing an album, SOA are releasing their debut “Psychotic Symphony” this month, but what can the casual listener expect from this?
“God of the Sun” is a heavy and progressive number, with epic undertones, mostly due to its eastern influences. Think something between Talisman and Rainbow with a slightly more adventurous nature and a solo section that unnecessarily veers of towards a jazzy-DT direction for a while, before coming full circle and you’re there. We know you’re good, but a lot of that doesn’t really fit “in there”…
“Coming Home” throws a gauntlet down and groves wildly, really mixing influences from all the bands these gentlemen have been in and sounding as messy as JSS’ “more modern” solo releases. The chorus kind of works in the midst of buzzsaw riffs panning keys and whatnot. It certainly is a far cry from the opener, but it’s still OK.
Signs of the Roots... bloody Roots… ahem sorry, “Signs of the Time” sounds like a typical JSS piece, with a more intricate orchestration and also a groovy portion that opens it and repeats in the duration, that’s very “Roots’y”.
“Labyrinth” opens with some epic fake strings and a breathy JSS that sounds vulnerable; it builds up tension that way and manages to maintain it, build it some more – while it becomes a lot more meandering, with Theateresque parts intricately woven in its fabric and sort of manages to release it all with a chorus that’s good, but if it was a little more inspired would have been a classic. Still one of the better tracks here.
“Alive” could have easily been in one of the Soto albums or JSS albums, a typical softer song with JSS being smooth and the occasional “bombastic” moment where the rest of the band makes itself “felt” especially during the middle with at first a prog-asm and then a bluesy jazzed out solo by Ron. It manages to be both modern and melodic, without screwing it up, which is good I guess, since this is a very hit’n’miss area for JSS.
“Lost in Oblivion” is another urban Theateresque number that name checks the album’s title. It borrows from the more boring and technocratic DT days, with a rather subdued JSS singing rather deep into verb and with quite a few effects, with the better part of the song being the chorus and the rather bumblebee-esque solo.
“Figaro’s Whore” is a minute long satirically titled instrumental demonstration of Dereks’s destructive abilities that segues right into “Divine Addiction”, a fairly epic urban prog piece that feels like someone remixed and rearranged a “SOTO” track and made something rather impressive out of it, despite walking on the edge with it.
Last on the album comes the all instrumental “Opus Maximus” where SOA tries to out-DT without sounding much like them. There’s a ton of nice themes that sound a little disjointed, mostly meant to demonstrate each players prowess, than to really form a coherent track, but so be it.
A sum of its parts in a lot of ways, this album sounds like what you’d expect from the people that partake in it; parts DT, parts Soto/JSS and parts the rest of the guys, it certainly feels better than most of the terribly boring by the numbers technocratic shit DT has released regularly in the new millennia, with the exception of a couple of good albums (“Octavarium” and half of the eponymous one). On the other hand, is not some “revelation” and is a little by the numbers on its own, seemingly unable to distill the essence of these musicians and particularly because of JSS inclusion offer a viable “single”. Likable, but that’s it…