Sons Of Apollo are back with more instrumentally dense progressive metal. Derik Sherinian and Mike Portnoy have their influence written all over this music, but with MMXX – their second effort – there is a sense that melody and song structure make a greater impact. More cohesive as a group coming off their live performances last year, these songs flow well, and Jeff Scott Soto’s voice just “feels” a more natural fit this time around. That said, there is no denying the overly indulgent nature of the music. Fans of ‘90s progressive metal will rejoice as this music represents – in some ways – the direction most fans of early Dream Theater wished the band would progress.
There is a greater diversity as well this time around – immediately apparent from the first 4 tracks. Sherinian’s keys play an even greater role – with some epic moments like the opening, middle and closing segments to “King Of Delusion,” and Portnoy has dialed back the speed and technicality for a more ‘70’s prog style which perfectly complements the retro-progressive songwriting going on here. This song is absolutely killer – simultaneously showcasing both technical and creative skills. “Fall To Ascend” follows – easily one of the heaviest tracks – with plenty of power, speed, melody and crunch. I love that Portnoy is spreading melody around the kit instead of just attempting to power/speed his way through these songs. Thal “Bumblefoot” is a master on these songs – technically brilliant, his guitar leads and solos simply shred. And Sheehan’s bass guitar is killer as well – just listen to some of the middle sections of “Resurrection Day.” I love the creativity on the epic track “New World Today.” The opening segment is essentially a Thal guitar solo accompanied by some very cool synths. But then the song builds into a juggernaut of prog rock/metal power and passion.
The second CD contains the instrumental mixes (as if the vocals are irrelevant to prog shred) with the highlights being the a cappella excerpts. Just listen to these tracks if you doubt Soto’s ability to deliver vocally – his voice just commands. Despite the heavy reverb, these tracks are captivating – his performance on “Desolate July” probably my favorite. There is an error in my CD booklet – the song titles in the lyric section are missing to the first five songs – but otherwise the triple gate digi is typical of most of these multi-CD releases of late from Inside Out.
Sons Of Apollo have more than adequately answered the call – these songs represent significant improvements over the debut. My only hesitation with this band? There is still a gap between the vocal/melodic metal side of the music and the technical wizardry, but with MMXX they have closed that gap quite significantly when compared to the debut.
- Audio CD (January 17, 2020)
- Original Release Date: January 17, 2020
- Number of Discs: 2
- Label: Century Media
- Run Time: 137 minutes
- ASIN: B07ZW9ZGQP
- Customer Reviews:
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#1,705 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
- #143 in Metal