A wait of more than four years for new music from Styx officially came to an end last month when the band released its latest album, Crash of the Crown. The 15-song album is the band’s 17th. Now audiences can hear some of the music from the album live as the band has launched a tour in support of the record. The tour features a stop Aug. 11 in Durham, North Carolina at the famed Durham Performing Arts Center. The facility is one of so many shut down for the past year-plus as a result of the impact of the COVID-19, so this early entry in the center’s series is a big deal for fans in North Carolina. To the same extent, Styx’s new album is its own big deal. It is a record that continues to show why the band remains such a respected name in the rock (and music) community. That is proven in part through its featured musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly. The lyrical themes featured alongside the record’s musical arrangements add their own appeal to the album. They will be discussed a little later. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered, they make the album a work that will appeal not just to the band’s fans, but to rock fans in general. Those fans in North Carolina will enjoy hearing much of the album next month, too when Styx comes to town at the Durham Performing Arts Center.
Styx’s new album, Crash of the Crown is a strong new entry from the veteran rock band. The record’s success is due in part to its featured musical arrangements. The arrangements are important to note because of the approach that the band took to them. The band’s familiar classic rock leanings are audible throughout the course of the record’s 43-minute run time. At the same time, audiences also get quite a bit of prog-influence throughout the album alongside that classic rock sound. The balance of the two genres is solid throughout the record, making for plenty of appeal in its own right. Speaking specifically, the use of the keyboards, vocals, and guitars, makes the record’s arrangements comparable to works from the likes of Transatlantic, Spock’s Beard, and the Neal Morse Band. Even with that in mind, it should be pointed out that while the comparisons are inescapable, the songs still boast their own identity from one to the next. That ability of the band to create arrangements whose sounds and stylistic approaches are so familiar but still their own is just part of what makes the album work. Its lyrical themes add their own appeal to its presentation.
The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical arrangements are important to note because they are just as accessible as the album’s musical content. From one song to the next, the themes are essentially commentaries on various topics. They are also delivered in fashions that make it easy to understand them. Case in point is the lyrical theme featured in ‘Common Ground.’ Simply put, this song is a call to unity. It starts out sounding like an all too familiar piece about relationships as it states, “It was just a fleeting moment, on a long lost night/We both were so determined that our way was right/Now the days of our confusion have no end in sight/Can we ever find our way back/From that long lost night?/ Once, we all believed/When we were young/That our dreams could rise/Were those all lies?/But it’s just so hard to see/Through each other’s eyes/ It was just a fleeting moment/Did our dreams take flight?/Can we ever find our way back/From the long lost night?” However, the chorus counters that interpretation as it comes right out and states, “When we get together on common ground/Then no one will ever come and take us down.” Here is a clear statement of unity, telling people they need to…well…come together. It is a theme that is anything but new in this case, but is just as welcome as in any other act’s songs. It is a theme that will always be relevant.
On another note, ‘Save Us From Ourselves’ is another example of the importance of the album’s lyrical themes. In the case of this song, the theme comes across as a commentary about the state of the world. This is clearly inferred in the song’s lead verse, which states, “It was the same day in another time/I felt your pain and you felt mine/And all that we tried and all of our tricks/Still couldn’t help what couldn’t be fixed/Who’s gonna save us from ourselves this time?” The song’s chorus continues that message, stating, “One nation, indivisible/Heads in the sand/’Ccause we weren’t invisible/Say your prayers/We could all use a miracle now/To save us from ourselves.” The song’s second verse continues in similar fashion, making mention of the “Demonstrations/appropriations/More frustrations/Tugging at your sleeve/Peace and love still has the power/Don’t wait until your final hour to believe/I said/With all that we’ve tried/And all of our tricks/Still could not help/What couldn’t be fixed/Can anyone save us from ourselves this time?” Once more, this is a familiar indictment of everything going on and the people causing it all. It is yet another familiar theme and even being so familiar, is just as welcome here as in any other case.
The whole thing closes out with yet another familiar lyrical theme in ‘Stream.’ This song delivers a message of hope even with all of the negativity swirling around the world. That is made clear right from the song’s outset with the lines, “Strangers leaving footprints in the snow/The day is coming and everybody knows/Pressure’s building/Something’s gonna blow/The sun is rising/The rooster’s gonna crow.” That final statement about the sun and rooster hints at the old adage that it’s always darkest before the dawn. It continues, “Please don’t wake me from this sweet dream/Floating on a stream/Sunshine beaming down on my face/Staring into space.” This is someone who is lost in positive thought. It is a reminder to listeners that things can and will get better, even as bad as they have been and are. It is yet another example of the importance of the album’s lyrical themes. What’s more, considering its placement in the album, it also plays into the last of the record’s most important elements, its sequencing.
As noted in the songs addressed here, there is a lot of familiar commentary on some very hot button topics. They are addressed throughout the course of the album before audiences are finally reminded at the record’s end that there is a light and that things will get better. This shows a deliberate approach to the songs’ sequencing in regards to their lyrical content. The sequencing also takes the songs’ musical arrangements into full account. As noted already, this album is composed of 15 songs that span interestingly only 43 minutes. Considering the number of songs, that number would normally account for a much longer run time for most records. So to have such a relatively manageable run time across that many songs is interesting. When audiences listen to the songs, the shortest being approximately 38-seconds and the longest clocking in at exactly four minutes, that run time becomes more understandable. What’s more, the energy in each arrangement ensures listeners’ maintained engagement and entertainment. That stability in the songs’ energies and the standard run times among the songs is really what accounts for the relatively short, but not too brief run time. It makes the album that much more appealing being that it shows such thought that went into the sequencing in this case, too. All things considered, the sequencing shows in its own way, it is just as important to the success of Crash of the Crown as the album’s musical and lyrical content. When all three elements are considered together, they make this album another positive offering from Styx the continues to show why this band remains one of rock’s elite acts.
Styx’s recently released album, Crash of the Crown, is a presentation that will appeal widely among the band’s established audiences and to more casual listeners. That is due in part to its featured musical arrangements. The arrangements expertly balance the band’s familiar classic rock leanings with a distinct prog influence to make them unique and appealing in their own right. The album’s lyrical themes are also important to its presentation because of their familiarity and accessibility. The sequencing of that content puts the final touch to the album’s presentation. That is because it takes everything into account with the album’s content. It ensures that content is placed properly to ensure the album flows solidly from one song to the next. Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered, they make the album a positive new offering from one of rock’s elite acts. Crash of the Crown is available now. More information on the album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:
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