Sons Of Apollo - 'MMXX'

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Sons Of Apollo - 'MMXX'

Faultless performances both collectively and individually; another masterclass.

When Mike Portnoy left Dream Theater, the heart and soul went out of the band. They've had some great releases since his departure of course, and their playing and execution remains as faultless as ever, but that indescribable essence that set them on a pedestal is no longer in play. Portnoy for his part seems to have been searching for something too; a succession of big-name projects and guest appearances, whilst generally top drawer, have also been lacking that major 'Wow!' factor. Thankfully, it would appear that lighting can indeed strike twice...

When Portnoy hooked up with Jeff Scott Soto, Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal, Billy Sheehan and Derek Sherinian to form Sons Of Apollo back in 2017, something just clicked. Their debut album 'Psychotic Symphony' was a masterpiece; its dazzling assortment of Sabbath, Rainbow, G N'R, Dream Theater and Shadow Gallery (to name but five) influences creating a jaw dropping cacophony of sound the likes of which hadn't been heard in far too long... epic opener 'God Of The Sun' is still my default go to track of the last decade!

Their 'Plovdiv...' live extravaganza confirmed that the studio chemistry transferred seamlessly to the stage (both shows I caught were awesome!); its mix of vibrant energy and streetwise cool making it a truly unforgettable experience. Now, with everyone confirming their commitment to the SOA brand longer term, it's time to unleash album number two.

Treading a path broadly parallel to the one taken last time, 'MMXX' is even bigger, even bolder and in all respects even stronger. First time out they were relative strangers, this time round they sound like a band with decades of camaraderie under their belts... yep, 'MMXX' is everything I was hoping for and so much more besides!
Production, technical ability, arrangements, melodies, hooks... everything is just off the scale. From the brooding 'Goodbye Divinity' which opens the album, to the soaring, fifteen minute-plus epic 'New World Today' (love the Gary Moore inflection of Bumblefoot's guitar at the beginning) which brings it to a close, I guarantee you'll be blown away. There's the harrowing 'Desolate July', the visceral 'Asphyxiation', crescendo driven 'King Of Delusion', glorious 'Resurrection Day'... all inspirational, all hallmarks of an album that will I'm sure be lauded as a classic.

Faultless performances both collectively and individually; another masterclass!

Dave Cockett

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