Sons Of Apollo Builds On The Success Of Its Debut Album With Its Sophomore Release ‘MMXX’

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Prog-metal supergroup Sons of Apollo won’t be a one-off act for its members.  The group – Jeff Scott Soto (vocals), Billy Sheehan (bass), Ron Thal (guitar), Mike Portnoy (drums) and Derek Sherinian (keyboards) – will release its second full-length studio recording MMXX on Jan. 17.  The eight-song record has already spawned two singles – ‘Goodbye Divinity’ and ‘Fall To Ascend’ – and those singles are just a glimpse into what makes the album an impressive return for the quartet.  A close listen through the course of the record’s approximately 58-minute run time reveals an overall work that shows growth and change from the album’s predecessor Psychotic Symphony (2017).  One of the songs featured in the new album that serves to exhibit that growth comes late in the record’s run in the form of ‘Desolate July.’  It will be addressed shortly.  The record’s 15-minute-plus finale ‘New World Today’ is another way in which the group shows the noted growth.  It will be addressed a little later.  Much the same said of that song and ‘Desolate July’ can also be said of ‘Asphyxiation,’ which comes early in the album’s run.  When this song and the others noted here are considered alongside the two singles that the album has already spawned and the other three songs not addressed here, the whole of the album proves itself easily, to be one of this year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.

Sons of Apollo’s sophomore album MMXX is a step up from the band’s 2017 debut album Psychotic Symphony.  That is not to say that the band’s debut album was a bad record by any means.  As a matter of fact, said album was an impressive debut.  What this critic means to say is that the band has taken the success of its debut and built on it with this record.  That is proven in part midway through the album in the form of the song ‘Desolate July.’  The song starts with a brooding piano line with which , Soto sings.  A little more than a minute into the song, things pick up with the rest of the band members joining in.  What is interesting here is that even with the addition of Thal, Portnoy and Sheehan, the song still remains brooding in its own right during the choruses while the verses remain more introspective and moody.  Those different forms of heaviness makes the song’s arrangement its own powerful portion of the composition.  It is just one part of what makes the song stand out among the album’s works.  The song’s lyrical content adds even more power to that presentation.

Soto sings in the song’s lead verse, “Without reason/A dream becomes a tragedy/I’m still not believin’/Is this reality/So tell me/’Cause I don’t really wanna know/Did you really have to go/With no chance to say goodbye/And we’re left always wondering why/Another desolate July.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Night is silent/The innocence has found its way/The days are demising/Still the memories remain/So tell me.”  He adds in the song’s third and final verse, “I don’t believe what I’m hearing/It’s tearing down my soul/through every turn/You’re still reappearing/This void  has taken its toll/And now I’m running/I can’t stop this bleeding/And now I’m seething/My despair I’m feeling.”  Little, if any, is left to the imagination as to the song’s lyrical them through all of this.  This is some one who has lost a friend or loved one and is struggling to come to terms with it.  Considering the precise wording, this is not a song about a broken relationship.  It is a song about someone having died, and the emotional impact that said death has had on someone left behind.  Keeping that in mind, the song’s lyrical content couples quite well with its lyrical content to make the whole of the song one of the album’s most powerful and notable moments.  It is just one of the album’s most noteworthy works.  The album’s nearly 16-minute finale that is ‘New World Today’ is noteworthy in its own right.

The musical arrangement at the center of ‘New World Today’ opens with its own brooding, almost Pink Floyd-esque guitar line from Thal.  Thal’s intro to the three-movement song lends itself to comparisons to works from Pink Floyd’s 1994 album The Division Bell.  From there keyboardist Derek Sherinian joins in with his own percussive performance. Eventually the song progresses into its second movement, in which Soto joins in alongside Thal, Sherinian and the rest of the band members.  Eventually, the song enters its sixth and final movement, which is full on prog-metal.  What is so interesting about that third movement is how much it comes across as the band simply improving all the way around.  Even with that feeling, there is still a certain sense of control through it all that keeps the arrangement that engaging and entertaining.  For all of the entertainment and engagement that the song’s expansive arrangement ensures, that arrangement is just one part of what will keep listeners’ ears.  The song’s lyrical theme is sure to do just as much as its musical arrangement to grab listeners.

The song’s lyrical content comes across quite as a social commentary right from its opening.  Soto sings in the song’s lead verse. “Why do we fight all we’re living for/This generation decline/It’s not enough we’re conflicted/In search of something divine/In the age of modern man/No more playing by the rules/it seems no one gives a damn/Oh, so many fools/We’re all living in a cloud/We’re all living in a dream/We only do what we’re not allowed/In the land of the free/Illusion is reality/Residing beyond hope and fantasy/Divided by our destiny/this is your life/This is the new world today.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “This ecstacy that we’re looking for/Seems to confuse and divide/We break down and rebuild the walls/We rise up an drop from grace/#MeToo #YouToo we fall/This subhuman race/Pledge allegiance to our God/Today it’s not PC/Take a knee/Now you are a fraud/Oh say, I can’t see/Colliding with all we conceal/Deciding we know all than what we feel/We somehow survive the surreal/this is our lives/This is the new world today.”  He adds in the song’s third verse, “We can’t undo yesterday’s tomorrow/Wheen something new was still so real/Now who will take the lead/Who will follow/the day has dawned/Unveil the new real.”  The song continues in similar fashion throughout right to its finale in its sixth movement.  The gist of the whole thing is a message that seems relatively clearly to infer that there is a need for change because of what society has become from what it once was.  Taking such an approach is nothing new for any musical genre.  The approach here is still powerful and moving in its own right.  When that message is joined with the song’s equally engaging musical arrangement, the whole of the song becomes yet another standout addition to MMXX and yet more proof of how much the band’s members have stepped up their game on this album.  Keeping this in mind, this song is still just one more of the ways in which MMXX proves itself another success from the band.  ‘Asphyxiation,’ which comes early in the album’s run is one more example of the album’s strength.

‘Asphyxiation’ presents a musical arrangement that from start to end, is full on prog-metal.  At one point, it even breaks into what feels almost like a complete improve session.  Even more interesting is that said seeming improve breakdown still maintains a certain control that makes the song that much more powerful.  This is something that is completely unlike anything that the band presented in its debut record, and is just as much unlike anything that any other prog-metal act today is doing.  Keeping that in mind, this adrenaline-fueled, five-minute prog-metal opus stands out as yet another of this album’s strongest additions and most notable.  One might even argue that it is even more notable than either of the singles that the album has already spawned, as engaging and entertaining as they already are.  Of course, as powerful as the song’s musical arrangement is, it is still just one part of what makes the song stand out.  The song’s lyrical content is just as noteworthy as its musical content.

This song’s lyrical content comes across as perhaps two people in a very toxic relationship.  That is inferred right from the song’s outset as Soto sings, “I’m lovin’ the way/That you’re squeezin’ my soul/My insanity/And I’m needin’ a taste/I can’t breath/This suffocating desire/Now dig/You’re the devil I know/My consequence, your dichotomy/No remorse, now I see/You are now my diseased fortifier/Your deceit is your desire/You’re my salvation/My new temptation/’Cause you’re my asphyxiation.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Under my own skin/Let the games now begin/In your private hell/I am your lust/Scream eternally under your spell/My deceit is your desire.”  He adds in the song’s third verse, “I’m your creation/Your new sensation/I’m your temptation/’Cause I’m your asphyxiation.”  It seems those strong thoughts and feelings go in both directions, leading back to that inference that this is a song about people in a less than perfect relationship.  That being the case, the almost manic feel of the song’s arrangement makes more sense.  To that end, it shows again just how much thought and time went into making sure every song in this album translated clearly to the band’s fans and general listeners.  Keeping that in mind along with the other two songs noted here and the rest of the album’s works, the entirety of MMXX becomes a record that is a large step up for Sons of Apollo. It makes the record a sign of how much this group has to offer audiences.  That in turn gives hope that this record will not be the band’s last album.

Sons of Apollo’s second full-length studio recording MMXX is a strong new offering from the superstar collective.  That is due to eight songs whose musical and lyrical content clearly display a lot of thought and time was spend crafting each work.  The songs addressed here are but a small example of that time and thought.  When they are considered alongside the rest of the album’s entries, the record in whole makes itself an early candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.

Sons of Apollo will launch a tour in support of MMXX later this month in Sacramento, CA.  The tour is scheduled to launch Jan. 23 and to run through Feb. 8 in Englewood, NJ.  After taking some time off, the band will launch the first European leg of its tour on Feb. 29 in Germany.  The European leg of the band’s tour is scheduled to run through March 25 in Budapest, Hungary.  the band’s tour schedule is noted below.

 

North America 2020
Thu 1/23            Sacramento, CA            Crest Theater
Fri 1/24             Pomona, CA                 The Glass House (https://bit.ly/2H8kNxY)
Sat 1/25            Los Angeles, CA           The Roxy (https://bit.ly/2H8aLNb)
Sun 1/26           San Francisco, CA        The Fillmore (https://bit.ly/31FYAPj)
Tue 1/28            Salt Lake City, UT          The State Room (https://bit.ly/31D8P7e)
Wed 1/29          Denver, CO                   The Oriental Theater (https://bit.ly/2Z5QC4s)
Fri 1/31             St. Charles, IL               Arcada Theater (https://bit.ly/30igOGu)
Sat 2/1              Battle Creek, MI             The Music Factory (https://bit.ly/31IwXVQ)
Sun 2/2             Toronto, ONT.               Mod Club (https://bit.ly/2Z8OuJ8)
Mon 2/3            Montreal QUE.              Corona Theater (https://bit.ly/2KF9eyU)
Wed 2/5            Boston, MA                  Paradise Rock Club (https://bit.ly/2N2rMMx)
Thu 2/6             New York, NY               Gramercy Theater (https://livemu.sc/2KHNN1r)
Fri 2/7               Jim Thorpe, PA             Penn’s Peak (https://bit.ly/2TLMy4w)
Sat 2/8              Englewood, NJ             Bergen PAC (https://bit.ly/31MKyM7)
Europe 2020
Sat 2/29            Germany                                   TBA
Mon 3/2            Drammen, Norway                     Union Scene
Tue 3/3             Gothenburg, Sweden                 Traedgarn
Thu 3/5             Kyiv, Ukraine                             N.A.U Theatre
Sat 3/7              Moscow, Russia                        RED
Sun 3/8             St Petersburg, Russia                Aurora
Tue 3/10            Pratteln, Switzerland                  Z7
Wed 3/11          Milan, Italy                                Live Club
Fri 3/13             Bilbao, Spain                            Santana 27
Sat 3/14            Barcelona, Spain                       Razzmatazz 2
Sun 3/15           Madrid, Spain                           La Riviera
Tue 3/17            France                                      TBA
Wed 3/18          France                                      TBA
Thu 3/19            London, U.K.                            Islington Assembly Hall
Fri 3/20             Eindhoven, Netherlands             Prognosis Festival
Sun 3/22           Show Brno, Czech Republic       Sono
Tue 3/24            Kosice, Slovakia                       Colosseum
Wed 3/25          Budapest, Hungary                    Barba Negra

More information on MMXX and the band’s tour in support of the album is available online now along with all of Sons of Apollo’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.sonsofapollo.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SonsOfApollo1

 

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Sons Of Apollo Debuts ‘Fall To Ascend’ Video

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Sons of Apollo debuted the video for its latest single this week.

The band debuted the video for its new single ‘Fall To Ascend‘ Friday.  The song is the second single from the band’s forthcoming album MMXX, which is scheduled for release Jan. 17, 2020 through Inside Out Music.

The video features the band performing its new single, with each member presented collectively through a distinctly psychedelic video effect.  The song’s musical arrangement once again features a very familiar sound thanks to the collective work of keyboardist Derek Sherinian and drummer Mike Portnoy, both of whom previously recorded and toured with Dream Theater.  Vocalist Jeff Scott Soto’s deep vocal delivery, guitarist Ron Thal and bassist Billy Sheehan add their own special touch to the song to make the composition in whole familiar stylistically speaking, but still original in its own right.  The song’s lyrical theme adds to its interest with its thought-provoking content.

The debut of the band’s video for ‘Fall To Ascend’ comes less than a month after the band debuted the video for MMXX‘s lead single, ‘Goodbye Divinity.’  The song’s musical arrangement will appeal just as much as that of ‘Fall To Ascend’ to Dream Theater fans.  The song’s lyrical content comes across as a commentary of sorts.

Pre-orders are open now for MMXX.  Audiences who pre-order the album now through iTunes and Amazon will receive an instant grat download of ‘Goodbye, Divinity.’

Audiences who pre-save the album online will have the chance to win digital subscriptions to Modern Drummer magazine and Bass Player magazine.  They will also have the chance to win a signed Remo drumhead from the band, as well as two tickets to one of the band’s upcoming shows.

Speaking of the band’s shows, the band will launch a tour in support of MMXX on Jan. 23 in Sacramento, CA.  The tour is scheduled to run through Feb. 8 in Englewood, NJ.

After taking time off to rest and recharge, the band will launch the second leg of its tour Feb. 28 in Germany.  The exact city is still too be announced.  The European leg of the tour is scheduled to run through March 25 in Budapest, Hungary.  The band’s current tour schedule is noted below.

North America 2020
Thu 1/23            Sacramento, CA            Crest Theater
Fri 1/24             Pomona, CA                 The Glass House (https://bit.ly/2H8kNxY)
Sat 1/25            Los Angeles, CA           The Roxy (https://bit.ly/2H8aLNb)
Sun 1/26           San Francisco, CA        The Fillmore (https://bit.ly/31FYAPj)
Tue 1/28            Salt Lake City, UT          The State Room (https://bit.ly/31D8P7e)
Wed 1/29          Denver, CO                   The Oriental Theater (https://bit.ly/2Z5QC4s)
Fri 1/31             St. Charles, IL               Arcada Theater (https://bit.ly/30igOGu)
Sat 2/1              Battle Creek, MI             The Music Factory (https://bit.ly/31IwXVQ)
Sun 2/2             Toronto, ONT.               Mod Club (https://bit.ly/2Z8OuJ8)
Mon 2/3            Montreal QUE.              Corona Theater (https://bit.ly/2KF9eyU)
Wed 2/5            Boston, MA                  Paradise Rock Club (https://bit.ly/2N2rMMx)
Thu 2/6             New York, NY               Gramercy Theater (https://livemu.sc/2KHNN1r)
Fri 2/7               Jim Thorpe, PA             Penn’s Peak (https://bit.ly/2TLMy4w)
Sat 2/8              Englewood, NJ             Bergen PAC (https://bit.ly/31MKyM7)
Europe 2020
Sat 2/29            Germany                                   TBA
Mon 3/2            Drammen, Norway                     Union Scene
Tue 3/3             Gothenburg, Sweden                 Traedgarn
Thu 3/5             Kyiv, Ukraine                             N.A.U Theatre
Sat 3/7              Moscow, Russia                        RED
Sun 3/8             St Petersburg, Russia                Aurora
Tue 3/10            Pratteln, Switzerland                  Z7
Wed 3/11          Milan, Italy                                Live Club
Fri 3/13             Bilbao, Spain                            Santana 27
Sat 3/14            Barcelona, Spain                       Razzmatazz 2
Sun 3/15           Madrid, Spain                           La Riviera
Tue 3/17            France                                      TBA
Wed 3/18          France                                      TBA
Thu 3/19            London, U.K.                            Islington Assembly Hall
Fri 3/20             Eindhoven, Netherlands             Prognosis Festival
Sun 3/22           Show Brno, Czech Republic       Sono
Tue 3/24            Kosice, Slovakia                       Colosseum
Wed 3/25          Budapest, Hungary                    Barba Negra

More information on Sons of Apollo’s upcoming live dates, new single, video, album and more is available online now at:

 

Websitehttp://www.sonsofapollo.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/SonsOfApollo1

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/SonsOfApollo1

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Sons Of Apollo Offers Audiences A Strong Live Debut In ‘Live With The Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony’

Courtesy: InsideOut Music/Century Media

The wait is finally over for Sons of Apollo’s new live recording.  The band officially released its new recording, Live With The Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony Friday.  The 24-song, two-and-a-half-hour concert was recorded at the famed Plovdiv Roman Theatre in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.  If that sounds familiar to some audiences, it should.  That is because that is the same venue where the Devin Townsend Project recorded its most recent live recording, Ocean Machine Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv.  That’s another concert, though.  This concert in question is a presentation that is certain to appeal to every Sons of Apollo fan.  That is due in part to the concert’s extensive set list, which will be addressed shortly.  The band’s performance of said set list is important to note in its own right and will be discussed a little later.  The concert’s production values round out its most important elements.  Each item noted is key in its own right to the whole of the recording.  All things considered, they make Live With The Plvdiv Psychotic Symphony a good first live outing for this prog-rock super group.

Sons of Apollo’s debut live recording Live With The Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony is a good first live offering from the prog-rock super group.  It succeeds all the way around, beginning with its extensive set list.  The 24-song, two-and-a-half-hour set list features the band’s debut album Psychotic Symphony in whole as well as covers of some of the band members’ own favorite songs from other acts and even some work from the band members’ own catalogs.  While Psychotic Symphony is presented in whole here, it is not in the same sequence as on the record, which is not necessarily bad.  It is instead scattered throughout the record with the other noted songs, including three classic Dream Theater songs ‘Just Let Me Breath,’  ‘Lines in The Sand’ and ‘Hell’s Kitchen.’  All three songs were lifted from Dream Theater’s 1997 album Falling Into Infinity, which was really the record that set Derek Sherinian’s identity as the band’s keyboardist at the time.  The covers featured in the set list are quite varied in their own right.  Rainbow gets a nod with ‘Gates of Babylon.’  The band also takes on Ozzy Osbourne with ‘Diary of a Madman.’  The band members even cover works from Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and the one and only Henry Mancini (yes, Henry Mancini) in this set list.  That’s quite a range of music.  From hard rock to prog rock to jazz and even the mainstream rock of Van Halen (the band also covers Van Halen’s ‘And The Cradle Will Rock,’ in this set), the band shows a wide range of influences and talent with the covers and the originals.  All things considered, the band’s set list ensures audiences’ maintained engagement and entertainment from the beginning to the end of the show.  That is heightened even more through the sequencing of the set list.  A close watch/listen shows a lot of thought went into the sequencing, as the show’s energy rises and falls at all of the right moments, ensuring even more, audiences’ engagement.

The engagement and entertainment ensured through this recording’s set list is but one part of what makes it so appealing for audiences.  The band’s performance of that set list ensures, even more that maintained engagement and entertainment.  Those who actively watch and/or listen to the recording will note that the band wastes little to no time moving from one song to the next over the course of the concert.  Case in point is the transition from ‘Alive to Henry Mancini’s timeless ‘Pink Panther Theme,’ and from that song into ‘Opus Maximus.’  The transition is seamless from one song to the next.  The band members hit all the right notes and cues to make each transition work.  It is just one of the prime examples of how the band makes the most of its time.  Earlier on in the set, the band transitions just as seamlessly from ‘Signs of the Time’ into ‘Divine Addiction.’  That fluidity makes for so much enjoyment for audiences.  Even in the rare moments in which the band does take a moment to interact with the audience, little time is wasted, such as when drummer Mike Portnoy introduces his longtime friend and band mate Billy Sheehan for Sheehan’s solo.  That solo, by the way, would make fans of Cliff Burton and Lemmy Kilmister proud.  Getting back on topic, Portnoy’s introduction is short and to the point, giving Sheehan more time to perform.  Even when front man Jeff Scott Soto gets his moment in the spotlight for his solo performances, he is gracious and humble in addressing the audience, and brief in the process.  Simply put, from the concert’s opening to its finale, the band’s presence and performance of the show’s set list displays the band as a fine tuned machine and as a group of true professional musicians that wants to give audiences the absolute biggest bang for its buck.  When that is considered alongside the set list itself, the whole of those two elements gives audiences more than enough to appreciate in this case.  Even with all of this in mind, the set list and the band’s performance thereof is still only a portion of what makes the concert so enjoyable for audiences.  The recording’s production values put the finishing touch to its presentation.

The production values in this recording are so important in that they add so much more to the general effect of the concert.  The camera angles, the transitions from camera to camera (including the speed of the transitions) help to expertly capture and translate the energy of the show for audiences who were not lucky enough to be in attendance at what was the band’s first-ever concert at the Roman Theatre.  At the same time, they also give home audiences the absolute best seat in the house, taking viewers right up close wit hthe band on stage and from high above at some points.  The sound editing and mixing is just as worthy of praise, as it keeps all of the music and vocals just as expertly balanced throughout.  Case in point is the balance of Soto’s vocal delivery against the instrumental elements in ‘Kashmir.’  Portnoy and company are clearly audible, but never once overpower the orchestral backing provided for the performance.  At the same time Soto’s vocals are never overpowered by his band mates and guest orchestral musicians as he takes on Robert Plant’s part from the original song.  When the expert production and mixing is considered alongside the band’s performance and the set list, the whole of the concert becomes an experience that definitely presents a very wide appeal.  Overall, the noted elements make this recording in whole one more of this year’s top new live Blu-ray/DVD recordings.

Sons of Apollo’s debut live recording Live With The Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony is a powerful first live offering from the prog-rock super group.  It is an offering whose appeal reaches easily beyond just fans of the band, but the bands with whom each of its musicians have performed and more.  That is proven in part through the recording’s extensive set list.  The set list not only presents the band’s debut album Psychotic Symphony in whole, but also lots of covers and originals that will appeal to lots of audiences.  The band’s performance of that set list does just as much to make the recording enjoyable.  The recording’s production and mixing put the last touch to its presentation, ensuring even more its positive impact.  Each item noted is important in its own right to the whole of the recording.  All things considered, they make Live With The Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony not just a strong live debut for Sons of Apollo, but also one more of this year’s top new live Blu-ray/DVD recordings.  More information on the recording is available online now along with all of Sons of Apollo’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://SonsofApollo.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SonsofApollo1

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SonsofApollo1

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.