Sons of Apollo are the definition of that oft hated label the supergroup, whose members collective CVs include Yngwie Malmsteen (Jeff Scott Soto), Guns N Roses (Bumblefoot), David Lee Roth (Billy Sheehan), Alice Cooper (Derek Sherinian) and Dream Theater (Mike Portnoy) to name but a few. MMXX is their second album and it continues the Dream Theater style prog metal of their debut Psychotic Symphony, only darker and more brooding.
You know exactly what to expect – big riffs, layers of bombast, an array of twiddly solos and lengthy run times – and it is not for the fickle or faint of heart. ‘Asphyxiation’ is the best moment here, a heavy number with a stomping, almost industrial groove and a foreboding atmosphere. Opening track ‘Goodbye Divinity’ is no slouch either with a tasty riff and a sweet chorus emphasised by Sherinian’s soaring keys. Soto’s powerful, melodic voice is well suited to hefty riffs and a big chorus but unfortunately I cannot help but be reminded of 80s cheese merchant Kip Winger.
The album is at its best when the solos and meandering interludes are kept to a minimum as is the case in the pacey ‘Fall to Ascend’, with the main lick and hooky chorus coming back round just in time stopping it from getting lost in a haze of flashy instrumentation. Alas that does not always happen as the album as a whole is chock-full of flashy and often overindulgent noodling. The final track ‘New World Today’ is the worst offender, initial signs of promise are lost in nearly 16 minutes of attention sapping meandering. ‘King of Delusion’ is a dramatic number with a wonderfully brutal rhythm section whose momentum is hampered by the many overwrought musical tangents. Yes, everyone here are incredibly talented musicians but it gets a bit boring hearing endless examples of their dextrous finger work.
A decent if overindulgent second album from the assorted superstars that make up Sons of Apollo; heavy, brooding but stuffed with too much noodling. For the best Portnoy involved prog supergroup record of recent times stick on Flying Colors’ Third Degree.