Label: InsideOut Music / Sony
Welcome to 2020, and what better way to start the year than listening to Sons of Apollo’s second album which conveniently is called “MMXX”.
For those who are not familiar with this band, it’s a supergroup comprised of former Dream Theater members Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian, Mr. Big’s Billy Sheehan, Asia’s Ron Thal “Bumblefoot” and to complete the line up Jeff Scott Soto, who has been part of many bands and projects but most known for singing on Yngwie Malmsteen’s first two albums.
The Sons start it off with “Goodbye Divinity” which is the first single from this album, it starts by introducing the guitar and most importantly the signature fretless guitar sound that is so characteristic of Bumblefoot’s sound, followed by Sheehan’s bass and Portnoy’s drums, the intro is a perfect beginning to this epic progressive metal work, as soon as Soto starts off the song with his vocals, you will understand that they mean strict business, this song is a killer hooky opener with a great solo section with a back and forth action by Sherinian and Bumblefoot.
“Wither to Black” gives you a taste of how Mike Portnoy’s double bass action sound isolated, this is a good hard rock track that proves how solid Soto’s vocals are, how much groove Bumblefoot can add to his riffs, and also the fact that Sherinian kills it at keyboard solos.
“Asphyxiation” is a heavier song, it starts with a chuggy riff and drums. In this song you can also notice Soto’s heavy use for vocal effects throughout the whole piece.
You have to have a proper power ballad in such an album, “Desolate July” fills that void, it begins with a mellow keyboard and vocals, getting quickly into the chorus, this might be catchiest vocal melody of the whole record
“King of Delusion” begins with a very tense keyboards intro that has a layer of voices whispering in the background that adds to the obscure atmosphere they’re trying to create. The song then enters into a heavy riff verse with a great vocal melody. If I would have to share any critique it would be that the very apparent vocal effects, and in this case the delay at the end of the chorus is for a lack of better words quite cheesy, it’s a distraction that extracts me from the experience.
You always need a song that starts with a hard rocking drum intro, “Fall to ascend” fills that spot on this album. The song has a very quick exchange between slow tempo verses and a more riffy chorus. The song has one of my favourite instrumental or solo sections, quite reminiscent of Dream Theatre tactics, and what makes it interesting is that Bumblefoot adds such a different and interesting approach to these types of rhythms that you would expect to hear from the aforementioned band, very refreshing.
“Resurrection Day” just proves that every riff on this record has been carefully crafted in order to maximize on grooviness, and that’s what stands out the most. The vocals are not standing out as much, at least not at this point within the record. The vocal melodies are becoming rather predictable. Not to take anything from this song on its own, but if you’re listening to this record in its entirety, then at this point you can have such thoughts. The ending of this track is quite epic though, so much so that it will probably sweep those prior negative thoughts away.
What’s the best way to end a progressive metal album? That’s right with the longest track on the record. So the question is, is it unnecessarily long for the sake of prog appeal? No, obviously not, these guys are veterans. So be prepared to be hooked to this one, “New World Today” starts off with a Pink Floydish type guitar solo intro that seems to be floating in space supported by a thick synth layer of fuzziness. This song has many different sections and transitions that showcase all the musical and technical abilities these guys possess, and there’s a lot to demonstrate, so brace yourselves. One of my favorite parts is after the bass solo, the transition into the faster section at the middle of the song, after that point everything gets hectic, in a good way, and it’s just pure musical pleasure.
All in all, this is a great record that is highly recommended to all Dream Theater fans, and additionally to all those people who say Dream Theater is great but they cannot stand the vocals, and would rather have a similar experience with a different singer. Apart from that rather lazy point and comparison I have to say that the guitar work on this record is definitely a huge selling point as well. If that resonates with you, then please do give this record a listen, you’ll nod in agreement when doing so.
- Mike Portnoy – Drums, Vocals
- Derek Sherinian – Keyboards
- Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal – Guitars, Vocals
- Billy Sheehan – Bass
- Jeff Scott Soto – Vocals
1. Goodbye Divinity
2. Wither To Black
4. Desolate July
5. King Of Delusion
6. Fall To Ascend
7. Resurrection Day
8. New World Today