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MMXX - Sons Of Apollo

When I heard there was going to be a sophomore record from this titan of prog metal, I started to contemplate all of the things it might be. It might be even more complex, or it might be a bit more accessible than the band’s debut, Psychotic Symphony. My hope was that it would be like that debut, which was a brilliant combination of melodic hard rock, prog, and metal. Upon hearing the first few notes of the opening track, “Goodbye Divinity,” I knew what I was in for.

“Goodbye Divinity” slyly announces itself and then busts through the door that “Opus Maximus” slammed shut on the last record. Psychotic Symphony had so much to offer the listener. The greatest instrumentalists the world has to offer joined together with one of the most powerful voices in rock history to deliver songs that were heavy yet melodic, and complex yet accessible. All of that brilliance was capped off with a song just over the ten minute mark (“Opus Maximus”) that absolutely put an exclamation mark on things. MMXX is a message that proves that the first act was no fluke, and a clear statement that this band has another complete set of songs that is just as powerful as the last.

Photo: Hristo Shindov

The album starts much like the debut and ends in a similar fashion as well. “Goodbye Divinity” has a lengthy intro that quietly stalks the ear only to attack it later with sledgehammer drumming and a buzzing guitar riff. MMXX closes with “New World Today,” another definitive statement in which this band lays all its talent on the table. The song, which has a running time of almost sixteen minutes, is an amalgamation of everything the hard rock fan loves. The insane instrumentation, the complex time signatures, and the impassioned and guttural vocal delivery make this another firm exclamation point to end the record.

Between the bookends of “Goodbye Divinity” and “New World Today” comes the meat and potatoes of Sons Of Apollo. This is a band that can not only play anything that’s put in front of them, but they can actually write great complete songs. “Desolate July,” a song which honors David Z., friend and bassist in singer Jeff Scott Soto’s solo band, is a brilliantly written song from first note to last. “Wither To Black” is another song that has a structure that accentuates the heaviness of the instrumentation, yet it still finds room for great harmonies that swim freely amidst the sludge. The band even tries its hand at a slightly industrial sound with “Asphyxiation,” which has hints of “Head Like A Hole” (Nine Inch Nails) with screeching guitars and megaphone effects; all of it being neatly tucked inside of a prog metal shell. As you listen to all of this happening, you really feel like this band is showing all its cards. This is the definition of “full out.” Nothing is held back here, and everything moves and sways like a well-oiled machine. 



An Interview with Jeff Scott Soto


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