I’m a numbers guy, so here is an equation for you. What do you get when you add… 2 parts of The Winery Dogs + 2 parts of Dream Theater + 3 parts of PSMS + 2 parts Yngwie Malmsteen + 1 Bumblefoot? You get the incredible new group Sons of Apollo. Initially emerging from the group PSMS (Portnoy, Sheehan, MacAlpine, Shernian), Jeff Scott Soto (vocals), Billy Sheenan (bass), Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (guitars), Derek Sherinian (keyboards) and Mike Portnoy (drums) are a force to be reckoned with.
Psychotic Symphony by Sons of Apollo (Released Oct 2017, Inside Out Music/Sony)
Produced by The Del Fuvio Brothers (aka Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian)
The opening track “God of the Sun” begins with a Middle-Eastern vibe. Really, who has sitar right at the beginning of a new album? Just shows you the amazing that is about to come. This epic song highlights both the thunderous Portnoy drum sound and the soulful vocals of JSS. The vocal melody and catchy chorus gives this part prog metal track a hard rock feel. A simpler band would’ve ended the track at the 4:56 mark, but SOA thankfully doesn’t. You can immediately tell that the production is perfect, as it allows for all the instruments to be heard well and precisely accompany each other.
The first single “Coming Home” cements that SOA isn’t just “prog metal”. Driven by a keyboard hook, this anthemic modern song has a big arena feel. Can’t wait to hear how this song will come off live. But Sonny, these “supergroups” never tour? I have heard interviews with Portnoy, Thal and JSS and all have shared that everyone has cleared their 2018 calendars (from the collective 100 bands they are in) and deemed it the Sons of Apollo year to dominate the musical landscape. Woohoo!
Billy Sheehan starts off the next song “Signs of the Time”. This tune has a darker vibe, including lyrics “Through this curtain call, We’ll collide and fall, We’re all victimized and dehumanized… ” and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal crafts a spectacular guitar solo. As for the drumming, all I can say is UNBELIVEABLE!
The fourth track “Labyrinth” also has a haunting vibe. This unique tune shows off the magic that the duo Portnoy and Sherinian have been creating for decades. This song is when I started to realize that SOA has superbly blended all the musical influences that each member brings.
The power ballad “Alive” is built for rock radio. This dark and heavy melodic masterpiece is about facing those pesky demons we all have. I can distinctly hear Thal’s voice in the backing vocals. I forgot how great of a singer he is… and let’s everyone stop calling him the ex-GN’R guy. Bumblefoot is SO much more than that. Super underrated….
“Lost in Oblivion” and “Divine Addiction” are straight ahead modern rock songs. They have the complexities of the other songs on the album, but blend perfectly with Jeff’s vocal to appeal to the masses. Being the massive Jeff Scott Soto fan that I am, I hope that he finally gets the recognition that he deserves. Abroad, folks know Jeff’s talent, but the U.S. really has no clue.
“Figaros Whore” and “Opus Maximus” are the instrumentals on the album, but are completely different from each other. “Figaros Whore” is a short Sherinian masterpiece, while “Opus Maximus” is a massive 10+ minute psychotic symphony (… see what I did there…) that highlights the distinct musical talents of each member. Bassists unite… because Sheehan really shines on this track.
In Greek mythology, Apollo is the God of music and the sons of this God do not disappoint. The WOW factor of this music is off the charts. The album is 58 minutes of musical mastery, with 3 songs clocking in over the 9-minute mark. You can clearly hear influences from Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin, Dio, Uriah Heep, Steppenwolf, Deep Purple and The Who. My favorite tracks are “God of the Sun”, “Alive” and “Divine Addiction”, but the entire disc is worth several listens and WILL be on my top 10 album release list for 2017.
Finally, for the “labellers” out there who will ask the question: Is Sons of Apollo prog metal, heavy metal, hard rock, symphonic metal, melodic metal or doom metal? The answer is YES!
Thanks for reading. Pooni out!
Also check out: Growin’ Up Rock Podcast
Buy: Sons of Apollo