‘Psychotic Symphony’ Is A Brilliant Work From Some Of Progressive Rock’s “Titans”

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Late next month, progressive metal outfit Sons of Apollo will make its way to Nroth Carolina as part of its tour in support of its debut album Psychotic Symphony. The performance is scheduled for Feb. 13 at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro. Audiences who have yet to experience this new recording from the long time friends — Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater, Winery Dogs, Transatlantic, Liquid tension Experiment), Derek Sherinian (ex-dream Theater, Platypus, Alice Cooper), Billy Sheehan (Winery Dogs, Mr. Big, Steve Vai), Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (ex-Guns N’ Roses, Art of Anarchy) and Jeff Scott Soto (Trans Siberian Orchestra, SOTO, Rising Force) — will definitely be in for quite an experience. That is proven in part through the album’s musical arrangements. They will be discussed shortly. The album’s lyrical content plays into that experience, too. It will be discussed later. The album’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements, putting the finishing touch on the project. Each element is important in its own way to the whole of this nearly hour-long recording. All things considered, they make the album in whole a powerful effort from what is in its own right true rock royalty.

Prog-metal super group Sons of Apollo’s debut album Psychotic Symphony, released this past October via InsideOut Music, is yet another strong effort for the veteran musicians who came together to create the record. Regardless of whether this proves to be just a one-off program or something more long term, it can be said that it impresses from beginning to end. That is proven in part through its diverse musical arrangements. Right off the top, audiences are treated to an arrangement that echoes hints of Dream Theater’s 1997 album Falling Into Infinity courtesy of Sherinian’s keyboards and Portnoy’s work behind the kit. Thal’s guitar work is right up there with that of John Petrucci’s from that album, too. Soto’s vocal delivery expertly compliments the work put in by his band mates, sounding like a cross between James LaBrie and Fozzy front man Chris Jericho. Speaking of Fozzy, the album’s second offering, ‘Coming Home’ boasts an arrangement that can easily be likened to so many works from Fozzy. That is due again to the coupling of the song’s instrumentation and Soto’s vocal delivery. ‘Signs of the Time,’ which comes next changes things up even more with a full on prog-metal opus that expertly balances its heavier down-tuned guitar-driven verses with its more melodic choruses. The result of that balance is an arrangement that is easily one of the album’s high points, but most definitely not its only positive. The arrangement at the center of ‘Labyrinth’ is its own positive. It starts with a tense string arrangement that eventually builds to a solid yet just as tense rock arrangement complete with the rest of the band. From there, the arrangement gradually builds even more until finally climaxing in its bridge almost six and a half minutes in. From there, the song’s energy gradually declines but doesn’t let off too much. By the time the nine-minute-plus opus ends, audiences are left breathless as they agree that this arrangement is yet another of the album’s high points. As if all of that is not enough, the arrangement at the heart of ‘Divine Addiction,’ the album’s penultimate entry, conjures thoughts of early Deep Purple. ‘Opus Maximus,’ which closes out the album, is an aptly titled work. That is because its arrangement is nearly incomparable to anything else out there. The only seemingly feasible comparison that can be made (at least in this critic’s ears) is if one were to take the best musical elements of Dream Theater and Liquid Tension Experiment and mix them together into one whole. the result would be this absolutely bombastic work. When the song ends, audiences will be so blown away that they will agree, the musical adventured embarked upon 57 minutes ago is one of a kind and one that was well worth the trip. As much as this record’s musical arrangements do to the positive for its presentation, they are only one part of what makes the album stand out. Its lyrical themes are just as important as those arrangements.

The lyrical themes presented throughout Psychotic Symphony are key to the album’s presentation because they are just as varied as the album’s musical arrangements. The album’s opener is a prime example of that importance. Soto sings in the song’s lead verse, “Through desert skies and far beyond the ocean/I am the star that shines eternal glow/Forever you’ll know/A cold desire that’s feelin’ no emotion/I am the fire that burns inside your soul/I’m inside your soul/’Cuz I am the light/Surrender tonight/I am the face of tomorrow/Now I’ve just begun/You can’t hide or run/’Cuz I am the god of the sun.” He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse of this figure “healing wounds” and a “prophet crying out for mercy.” There is even mention of an “invited illusion” and “fallen temptation with desperation.” This is rather metaphorical speak to say the very least. Considering that the Egyptian sun God Ra was a false deity as was Apollo in Greek mythology, one could assume that here, the God in question is being used as a metaphor for some commentary on established religion in general. On the other hand, it could be something wholly different. It would have been nice to hear [Mike] Portnoy and [Derek] Sherinian discuss the meaning behind the song’s lyrics in their song-by-song discussions that are available now on YouTube. Even without any discussion by the pair, it goes without saying that this song, which seemingly is rooted in religion (or perhaps in mythology), is certain to generate plenty of discussion among audiences if it hasn’t already done so. That being the case, it is just one way in which the record’s lyrical themes prove so important to its whole.

‘Alive’ is another song that serves to show the importance of the album’s musical themes. This song seems (again, just to this critic) to come across as perhaps a statement of someone who has overcome so much in life. This can be inferred right off the top in the song’s lead verse as Soto sings, “Colorize the sadness/The fear is black wnad white/Tunnel of denial/Looking for the light/The devil on my shoulder/The master of disguise/Can you hear him singing/Release me from the past/This tortured life I’ve sown/I’ve been down/I’m tired of being alone/I can’t hear the silence/Screams into my soul/The truth is ringing.” He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse that “I’m alive” and of basically starting over thanks to his parents. Its’ definitely thought provoking. There’s even mention of eliminating all the negativity of the past as the song nears its bridge. Considering this, the argument that this song lyrically seems to be about overcoming difficult situations in life begins to hold even more water so to speak. When the Veer Union/Sevendust-style musical arrangement is added to the mix, the emotion of such a moment becomes stronger. Once again, this is the interpretation of only this critic. It would, again, be nice to learn the true meaning behind the song’s lyrics. Either way, the discussions that again are certain to be generated show the importance of the album’s lyrical themes.

‘Coming Home’ is yet another example of the importance of this record’s lyrical themes. This song seems to be more of a defiant statement as Soto sings, “Now I’m not so suspicious/You’re downright malicious/Can’t make a fool outta me/You’re scheme’s complicated/Your pride is inflated/Seized by a social disease/There’s a voice screaming outta my head/There’s a truth that I don’t wanna know/Cross the line that’ you’re gonna regret/Is it me/Is it you/So get out of my way/Goin’ out on my own/Now remember my name/’Cause I’m coming home.” Again, there is plenty left to the imagination here considering that the song doesn’t just come out and say what it means. It definitely comes across as a positive work, lyrically, though. Keeping this in mind, it adds even more depth to the album. When that depth is joined with the depth generated by the album’s other lyrical themes, it makes the album that much stronger. When the depth generated by the album’s lyrical themes is joined with that of the album’s musical arrangements, the whole makes the album that much more solid. Even with this all in mind, it still is not the last of the album’s most important elements. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.

Psychotic Symphony‘s sequencing is so important to note in examining its overall presentation because of how much even it adds to the record. From start to end, the album maintains a solid energy that barely lets up at any point. The most that it lets up (if one can even call it letting up) comes in the opening moments of ‘Labyrinth’ as the string arrangement sets the stage for the song to come. Even that moment isn’t too light. Rather the tension that is built here actually maintains the album’s energy, just in a way that is separate from the album’s first three songs. Even as the band moves into ‘Alive,’ which is arguably the album’s most radio-ready track, the energy there doesn’t even pull back too much. From that point on to the album’s end, the band keeps things moving almost nonstop, insuring that much more, listeners’ engagement. Keeping this in mind, that maintained energy proves to be important in its own right. Had the album been presented in any other order, that might not have been the case. Lukcily though, that didn’t happen, meaning again only positives. That becomes even more the case as this element is joined with the album’s musical arrangements and lyrical themes. All things considered, they make Psychotic Symphony a solid work from a group of brilliant musical minds.

Sons of Apollo’s debut album Psychotic Symphony is a solid first outing from some of today’s great musical minds. From start to finish, this progressive metal offering is a work that any prog rock purist will enjoy. That is proven in part through the record’s varied musical arrangements. Its equally varied lyrical themes are just as certain to impress because of their ability to generate so much discussion among audiences. The album’s sequencing proves in its own way why this record is so impressive. Each element plays its own important part in the whole of Pyschotic Symphony. All things considered, they make this record yet another successful outing for some of the titans of progressive rock. It is available now in stores and online. More information on Psychotic Symphony is available online along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.SonsOfApollo.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SonsOfApollo1

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SonsOfApollo1

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Next To None Announces Sophomore Album’s Release Date

Courtesy: EMP Label Group/InsideOut Music

Next To None will release its sophomore album this summer.

Phases will be released July 7 via EMP Label Group in North America and InsideOut Music in Europe.  The announcement this week comes on the heels of the completion of the band’s European tour with Haken.

Work on the new record started last October and took approximately four months. Drummer Max Portnoy said the band in whole has been anticipating the album’s release.  He said that was because of the work put in by the band’s members in making the album become a reality.

“We’re so excited to finally be releasing our new album” Portnoy said.  “We feel it’s a huge step forward for the band and shows a much heavier and much more technical side.  This album is very special to us because it’s the first time we recorded and self-produced our entire album.  We were able to create music that is completely our own.  Every note, every sound, every word came from us, and we can’t wait for you all to hear it.  I suppose you could say what we’ve done here is do more of everything we did before but the greater experience we now have has helped us become better at what we want to do.”

Phases marks the debut for new guitarist Derrick Schneider with the band.  Schneider joined the band from a recommendation by former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Rob “Bumblefoot” Thal, who also made a guest appearance on the band’s debut album.  Ryland Holland left the band left the band last year to study at Berklee College of Music.

The band will hit the road alongside label mates Doll Skin this summer in celebration of the album’s release. The dates for that tour will be announced soon.  More information on those dates is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.nexttonone.net

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/NextToNoneband

Twitter: http://twitter.com/NextToNoneBand

 

 

 

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Art Of Anarchy Announces New Live Dates

Courtesy: O’Donnell Media Group

Art of Anarchy has announced new live dates in support of its new album The Madness.

The band announced this week it will embark on a short string of live dates next month beginning April 3 in Amityville, N.Y. The nearly month-long schedule takes the band to the Midwest and into the Southwest and also into Canada, eventually winding down April 29 in Henderson, NV.  The band’s current live schedule is noted below.

Art of Anarchy Tour Dates:

4/3/17 – Amityville, N.Y. – Revolution Bar & Music Hall
4/4/17 – Asbury Park, N.J. – The Stone Pony
4/6/17 – Toronto, Ontario – Velvet Underground
4/7/17 – Sarnia, Ontario – Station Music Hall
4/8/17 – Battle Creek, Mich. – The Music Factory
4/10/17 – Libertyville, Ill. – Austin’s Saloon
4/11/17 – Chesterfield, Mich. – Diesel Concert Lounge
4/13/17 – Fort Wayne, Ind. – The Rusty Spur
4/14/17 – Ringle, Wisc. – Q&Z Expo Center
4/29/17 – Henderson, Nev. – M Resort

Composed of Scott Stapp (ex-Creed) on vocals, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (ex Guns ‘N Roses) on guitar, John Moyer (ex-Disturbed) on bass and twin brothers Jon and Vince Votta on guitar and drums respectively, the band originally formed through an 18-year friendship between Thal and the Votta brothers.

Jon Votta first approached Thal with the idea to form the band years ago.  That discussion eventually led to the band’s creation, which originally saw the late Scott Weiland (ex-Stone Temple Pilots) handle vocal duties. The band’s debut self-titled album was released in June 2015.

Stapp said in a recent interview that he was optimistic about working with the members of Art of Anarchy.

“I’m excited to be a part of Art of Anarchy,” Stapp said.  “I appreciate collaborating with other talented artists and I can’t wait to share our new music with the fans very soon.”

Band manager John Gomez shared Stapp’s optimism.

“The other members of AOA and I are equally excited to have Stapp on board,” Gomez said.  “This is the first band that Scott has fronted outside of Creed and his heart’s really in it.  Scott’s vision, his gift for gut-wrenching storytelling and his powerful vocals lend a bold new energy to the group.”

Thal thought bringing Stapp on to take Weiland’s place has been a boon for the band, adding he thought Stapp’s addition to the band helped take the band in a new direction.

“Scott’s style and the personal lyrics he’s been writing are taking the sound in a new direction – one that brings out the best in all of us,” Thal said.  “It’s a new chapter for us all, and I’m looking forward to sharing the new music with the fans and seeing what the future holds.”

Vince Votta agreed.

“It’s been awesome having Stapp on board,” Votta said.  “Everyone is bringing their A-game and can’t wait to bring it live to the stage.”

Audiences that haven’t heard that new sound can hear The Madness’ latest single, its title track online now via the band’s official YouTube channel.  More information on The Madness is available online now along with all of Art of Anarchy’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.artofanarchyband.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ArtOfAnarchyBand

 

 

 

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Fragile Mortals Set To Unleash Its Debut Single

Courtesy: Bumblefoot Records

Courtesy: Bumblefoot Records

Metal super group Fragile Mortals is making quite the “explosive” debut this holiday season.

The band, which consists of metal outfit Generation Kill and veteran rapper Darryl “DMC” McDaniels (Run DMC) and another metal super group of sorts called Generation Kill, is set to release its debut single ‘Fired Up’ Monday, July 4th.  The song comes from the band’s upcoming debut album The Dark Project, which is currently scheduled to be released later this year.  It will be released via Bumblefoot Records, the independent record label of Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (Art of Anarchy, ex-Guns N’ Roses).  Audiences can check out a trailer for the song online now here.  About ‘Fired Up,’ DMC explained, “‘Fired Up’ is a foot-stomping, fist-in-your-face anthem, sort of like a MACK truck crashing into a packed football stadium.”  He added about the song, “‘Fired Up’ is a sports-inspired attitude about giving all you got in this “game of life.” And like my verse says, you must do it without cheating!”

The release of ‘Fired Up’ will be followed up immediately the next day with the release of the album’s second single ‘Suicide.’  In discussing the song, DMC noted that the song is the polar opposite of ‘Fired Up.’ “‘Suicide’ is really personal to me because I was fighting depression so I know what individuals, young and old, go through,” he said.  “People will always tell you that you shouldn’t feel the way you feel.  Easier said the done!  I discovered the first step to healing is be truthful to yourself about how you’re feeling, then look at WHO and WHAT circumstances are causing these feelings, then deal with those to remove those from your life.  Me and  [Rob] Dukes (Generation Kill, ex-Exodus) wrote these lyrics no holds barred because that’s how we, and a lot of others, felt.”  ‘Suicide’ will also be featured in the audio version of DMC’s new book Ten Ways Not To Commit Suicide.  It is set to be published worldwide Tuesday, July 5th.

Generation Kill is: Rob Dukes (ex-Exodus) and bassist Rob Moschetti (ex-Pro-Pain, MOD).  Rob Thal also contributed guitar duties on a number of songs featured on Fragile Mortals’ debut album. More information on Fragile Mortals is available online now here.

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