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A gift from the Gods – heinous virtuosity and killer tunes combine...

andy rawll
Words: Andy Rawll
11th October 2017

sons of apollo

Twenty years since collaborating on Dream Theater's 'Falling Into Infinity', the Caligula of keyboards, Derek Sherinian, and the Pontiff of percussion, Mike Portnoy, have assembled a new band to rock your world, including the equally astonishing talents of Billy Sheehan, Jeff Scott Soto and Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal.

Better still, and as previewed in August here, the resulting new album, 'Psychotic Symphony', is due to emerge in all its blazing glory on 20th October 2017 via InsideOut Music, with two taster tracks already available as appetisers, as well as a new behind-the-scenes documentary.

MetalTalk's Andy Rawll spoke to Del Fuvio brothers Mike and Derek during their recent UK visit for the Prog Awards and received a fascinating insight into the band's immediate plans and ambitions for 2018, together with the possibility of an appearance by the Daughters Of Venus alter ego band line-up and the total absence of #fanger on the album.

Read on for Andy's review of the album itself:

Sons Of Apollo: 'Psychotic Symphony'
Released: 20th October 2017 (InsideOut Records)

New school Metal virtuosity meets old school rock'n'roll swagger. As hot as the sun, as deep as a black hole and as richly coloured as the Milky Way, this an exhilarating rocket ride of ballsy progressive Metal that you will never forget.

If ever an album has the X factor then it is this one. Combining the off-the charts chops of Sherinian's superb Planet X with the euphoric and powerful songcraft of Symphony X, 'Psychotic Symphony' delivers a perfect marriage of musicianship and melody.

Tumultuous opening track 'God Of The Sun' opens in gloriously cinematic style with Sherinian's hi-tech, sci-fi keyboards upfront and blade running a 2001 monolithic eastern-tinged unison riff from Sheehan and Thal. JSS then swoops in with his rich powerful roar that immediately asserts his role as the vital fifth element of the band, embodying the lyrics with style and passion and a peerless sense of melody.

Of course, Mike's drums are suitably stellar; crisp and complex on the taut instrumental passages and subtle and groovy on the shadier sections.

'Coming Home' as the lead preview track is perhaps the most familiar. A straight-up classic rock anthem that melds the swagger of Van Halen and the heavy loaded groove of Mr Big with its call and answer vocals and topped-off by a series of shimmering guitar solos. He may be bumble by name, yet his playing is ferociously nimble and inventive with real sting.

This has a great Adrenaline Mob feel to it, particularly given the similar timbre of Jeff's voice to Russell Allen's.

The first half of 'Signs Of The Times' picks up the momentum established by the previous track with Billy and Mike driving the crushing discordant main riff and aggressive vocals. Then comes the breakdown, leading to one of the instrumental highlights of the whole record, with Mr Bumble channeling the sadly departed Allan Holdsworth on a 'not-of-this-world' solo that builds beautifully to its ear-searing conclusion and one final triumphant chorus.

This brings us to 'Labyrinth', the first section of which is as near a perfect melodic hard rock song as you will hear this year, with its insistent verse riff and its 'Fanfare For The Radio' ELP meets Rush chorus. The mid-section then shifts gear into Nightmare Cinema territory, with a darker almost Tool-like vibe than majestic Mike's former band at times sounding like an alien warp speed version of Deep Purple.

sons of apollo

The gentle strummed intro to 'Alive' accompanies another assured Soto vocal on a song as catchy as, and possibly superior to, 'Coming Home'. Derek stated that the band wanted to avoid too many of the prog Metal clichés, particularly breathy and fake anger (#fanger) style vocals. Jeff again proves why is the perfect voice for the band. It has the authority and range of Russell Allen, but remains rich and smooth across all registers, whereas Allen has a tendency over-Draimanise. Yet again, there is a great mid-section with Thal's elegant fretless guitar solo absolutely gorgeous.

'Lost In Oblivion' is more hard-edged with pounding bottom-end and melodic heart like a psychotic Symphony X. Its juxtaposition with 'Divine addiction' is perfect, as both are complementary high-octane compositions. Whereas 'Oblivion' is guitar-led, 'Addiction' is propelled by the kind of filthy dirty organ that screams "oh Lordy, harder, faster" and invokes the rich Hammond tone that is forever Jon.

sons of apollo

Indeed, it even has its own dedicated introduction in the short and portentous in 'Figaro's Whore'. Once 'Addiction' has kicked-in and it leads into an extended keyboard solo, there's also a tasty snatch of 'Foreplay' in the solo, that iconic introduction to 'Long Time' on Boston's debut album.

If the album had finished there, with eight tracks and almost fifty minutes of compelling music, then this could already be declared as classic of the genre, yet there's more...

The only full-on, unfettered, fully instrumental track on the album, 'Opus Maximus' more than lives up to its name. In some ways, it feels like a bonus track, as the preceding fifty minutes consist of such a sensationally cohesive suite of songs. Yet, it would be unimaginable that a band with such individual talents would not be permitted to unleash such a monstrous and glorious piece, where no quarter is given and none taken by the Del Fuvian Quartet, given their collective sonic arsenal and compositional weaponry.

sons of apollo

It's a prog Metal symphony in its own right, with three distinctive parts. The grandiloquent opening section is centred around Derek's signature overdriven keyboard sound and similar in style to his best solo work, including the particularly potent 'Blood Of The Snake'. The middle section is off-the-scale brutal fusion that combines the prog Metal effervescence of Liquid Tension Experiment and the more jazz experimental infused approach of Planet X.

Derek and Ron duel with outrageously inventive and seemingly light-speed lead lines that startle and dazzle the senses. The final section is a classic Dream Theater-style coda, elegantly melodic and powerful with a thunderous backdrop. A fitting finale for a stunning work of art and craft.

God-like in conception, stellar in ambition and perfection in delivery.

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And there's more...

In addition to a full video for straight-up rocker 'Coming Home' and an audio of the sumptuous 'Signs Of The Time', there's a short whistle-stop preview of the album to whet your appetite prior to the release date.

To learn more, there are two official full-band interviews:

Look out for more details of touring plans for 2018 in addition to the exciting news that Sons Of Apollo will be headlining alongside InsideOut labelmates Pain Of Salvation at Be Prog My Friend this coming summer.


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