Psychotic Symphony

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Psychotic Symphony
Psychotic symphony.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 20, 2017[1][2][3][4]
RecordedMarch 1-Early August 2017[5] at Ocean Studios in Burbank, California, United States[6]
GenreProgressive metal, hard rock[7][8][9]
Length57:35[1]
LabelInside Out Music/Sony[10]
ProducerThe Del Fuvio Brothers (Mike Portnoy, Derek Sherinian)
Sons of Apollo chronology
Psychotic Symphony
(2017)
Alive/Tengo Vida
(2018)

Psychotic Symphony is the debut studio album by American supergroup Sons of Apollo, released on October 20, 2017.[1] The album was produced by drummer Mike Portnoy and keyboardist Derek Sherinian under the name "The Del Fuvio Brothers", a nickname they adopted during their time together in Dream Theater.[3][4][9] All members were involved in the creation of the songs, with Portnoy and Sherinian as the main songwriters.[2] The album was released as CD, digital download, vinyl and a special edition containing a bonus disc with instrumental versions of the song and an alternate mix of "Opus Maximus".[11] The band began touring to promote the album in early 2018.[4][10][8]

Concept and recording[edit]

Vocalist Jeff Scott Soto said the band kept their sound as simple as possible. When Soto himself tried out more sophisticated ideas (for example, on the songs "Coming Home" and "Lost in Oblivion"), the band decided to keep things simple and straight.[2] Sherinian also commented on the album's overall sound, stating that it has both the virtuosity of progressive metal and the straightforwardness of classic rock.[8][12] Portnoy however admitted that when he and Sherinian started forming the band, they thought it would go in a direction closer to that of Dream Theater, only to realize it would end up completely different.[13]

According to Bumblefoot, the album is influenced by Deep Purple ("Divine Addiction"), Van Halen ("Coming Home") and U.K.. When asked about it being a progressive rock album, he said:[4]

The album title is taken off a line from the track "Lost in Oblivion".[5] When asked about the artwork, Sherinian explained: "[...] credit goes to Mike Portnoy. He was in charge of the cover art. He had a vision of doing a strong press, clean press and then his symbolism - the eagle and the lion and then you can see all the headstocks of Billy and Bumblefoot."[14] Originally, the cover was to have two lions facing each other (each representing Portnoy and Sherinian), but the keyboardist suggested they replace his lion with an eagle.[5]

The album recording took ten days; Bumblefoot, Sherinian and Portnoy started work initially, with Sheehan and Soto joining the band halfway into the recording sessions due to touring commitments.[4][15] Most of the lyrics were written by Soto, while some song titles were suggested by Sherinian.[8]

Song information[edit]

The opening and longest track, the Perfect Strangers-influenced "God of the Sun", was mostly written by Sherinian and was the first track to be recorded, since it was the only song that was already sketched before the album sessions.[7][14] It contains Sherinian's favorite keyboard solo in the album.[16]

According to Portnoy, the Van Halen-influenced[14] "Coming Home" illustrates how Sons of Apollo is a contemporary progressive metal band influenced by classic rock bands.[7] A promotional video of the track was released on September 15, 2017, and shot at Ocean Studios, where the album was recorded. The video shows all five members in a circle performing the song live in studio. According to Portnoy, "'Coming Home' immediately felt like the Sons of Apollo 'grand entrance' as soon as we wrote the song. Almost like a fighter entering the ring. I knew this had to be the first video and first time people see us playing together."[6] The lyrics were mostly written by Soto.[14] The riff at the chorus was inspired by the main bass riff of Digital Underground's "The Humpty Dance".[17]

"Signs of the Time" was the first song to be written by the band together[14] and the first to be revealed to the public, on August 11, 2017. According to Portnoy, the track opens with Bumblefoot, Sheehan and Portnoy playing a Sepultura-like riff[7] and is followed by verses that he wrote, and sang in unison with Soto. The chorus lines were written by Soto and sung by Soto, Bumblefoot and Portnoy, who compares it to Kansas.[7] The lyrics see Soto "taking a closer look at the world".[10] The song's riff was given the working title "Korntera" by Bumblefoot due to it sounding like a mixture of Korn and Pantera; while Sherinian saw it as a modern-day Kansas song.[18]

"Labyrinth" is Portnoy's personal favorite on the album and features unusual time signatures and orchestrations.[7] "Alive" was suggested by Soto, and the band's response to it was so positive they barely changed the song,[2] although in another interview Portnoy stated that the song was composed by all the instrumentalists and had its lyrics and melodies written by Soto.[14] The band envisioned the song as a more commercial song and as a potential radio hit.[7][8]

"Lost in Oblivion" was written around a Bumblefoot riff that Portnoy describes as "Rush meets Meshuggah", with a Rob Zombie verse and a Eat 'Em and Smile-like instrumental breakdown. Pornoy pointed it out as "one of the hardest patterns I've ever had to cop".[7] The song was the subject of a promotional video directed by Vicente Cordero and released simultaneously with the album.[19]

"Figaro's Whore" is a short keyboard instrumental track that serves as a prelude to "Divine Addiction" and was compared by Portnoy to Van Halen's "Eruption". According to Sherinian, the title comes from the fact that "there's one part where I start shredding but then when it starts going down low, it's like, 'Fig-aro, fig-aro, figaro, figaro, figaro' – it reminds me of The Barber of Seville"; while "whore" was added simply because it's "a fun word to say", although it earned the album an "E" rating for "explicit language", even though the track has no lyrics at all.[7] "Divine Addiction" talks about sex addiction from the first person perspective of a girl.[7]

The ending track "Opus Maximus" is an instrumental[7] that the band composed "section by section" with "no destination",[11] in a process that probably took two days, according to Sherinian.[20]

Track listing[21][edit]

No.TitleLyricsMusicLength
1."God of the Sun"Jeff Scott Soto, Derek SherinianSherinian11:12
2."Coming Home"Soto, Sherinian, Mike PortnoySherinian, Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, Portnoy4:22
3."Signs of the Time"SotoSherinian, Thal, Portnoy6:42
4."Labyrinth"Soto, Sherinian, PortnoySherinian, Thal, Portnoy9:22
5."Alive"SotoSherinian, Thal, Portnoy, Billy Sheehan5:05
6."Lost in Oblivion"Soto, SherinianSherinian, Thal, Portnoy4:27
7."Figaro's Whore" (Instrumental)InstrumentalSherinian1:04
8."Divine Addiction"Soto, SherinianSherinian, Thal, Portnoy, Sheehan4:42
9."Opus Maximus" (Instrumental)InstrumentalSherinian, Thal, Portnoy, Sheehan10:29
Total length:57:35[1]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
Loudersoundpositive[22]
Metal Storm8.3[23]
Metal Injection6.5/10[24]
Blabbermouth.net7.5/10[25]


Loudersound's Fraser Lewry reviewed the album positively, stating that the band "is very much the sum of its parts. The musicians are as good as you'd expect, especially Portnoy, who almost seems to drag the rest of the band along with him, and Thal, whose playing veers from ugly metallic crunch to stunningly fluid solo.. (the album is) fierce, loud, bewildering, brilliantly performed and monstrously entertaining".[22]

In a less favorable review for Metal Injection, Jordan Blum felt the album was competent overall, but lacked originality. He said the album was "filled with in-your-face intricacy, uninspired lyricism, and raucous vocals, [...] packed with impressive performances from start to finish, as well as a few standout moments; however, it also fails to go beyond mere sufficiency in every respect, resulting in a forgettable effort that’s lazily innocuous and overwhelmingly familiar".[24]

Personnel[edit]

Sons of Apollo
Production
  • Mike Portnoy - production
  • Derek Sherinian - production
  • Jerry Guidroz - engineering
  • Greg Foeller - assistant engineering
  • Corey Mast, Brent Woods, Simone Sello, Thomas Cuce - additional engineering
  • Jay Ruston - mixing[12]
  • Paul Logus - mastering
  • Thomas Ewerhard - artwork and cover illustration
  • Hristo Shindov - photography
Additional Musicians
  • Ashwin Batish - sitar and chanting
  • Keshav Batish - Tabla
  • Artyom Manukyan - cello
  • Armand Melnbardis - violin
  • Kiara Perico - viola
  • Enrico Cacace - additional orchestration

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Psychotic Symphony". iTunes. Apple Inc. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Jolicoeur, Todd (17 October 2017). "INTERVIEW: JEFF SCOTT SOTO of SONS OF APOLLO – October 2017". 100% Rock Magazine. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  3. ^ a b "SONS OF APOLLO / Former DREAM THEATER Bandmates MIKE PORTNOY And DEREK SHERINIAN Discuss Musical Relationship - "We're Just As Immature As Ever"; Video". Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles. 31 October 2017. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e Dean, Mark (29 October 2017). "Interview: Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal of SONS OF APOLLO". Antihero Magazine. AntiHero Media LLC. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  5. ^ a b c "Nouvelle interview avec Mike Portnoy pour SONS OF APOLLO". Loud TV (in French and English). October 4, 2017. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  6. ^ a b Childers, Chad (September 15, 2017). "Sons of Apollo Unleash 'Coming Home' Video, Reveal 'Psychotic Symphony' Album Details". Loudwire. Townsquare Media. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Everley, Dave (October 20, 2017). "Son's Of Apollo Talk Us Through Their New Album". Prog. Team Rock. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d e altaf, Rodrigo (13 October 2017). "Derek Sherinian keyboardist of Sons of Apollo Interview". Lots of Muzik. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  9. ^ a b Mills, Matt (10 October 2017). "Strategic Wankery: An interview with Sons of Apollo". The National Student. Winchester: Big Choice Group. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  10. ^ a b c Childers, Chad (August 11, 2017). "Sons of Apollo Unveil Crushing New Song 'Signs of the Time'". Loudwire. Townsquare Media. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  11. ^ a b Colothan, Scott (16 October 2017). "WATCH: Sons of Apollo call Rush's 'La Villa Strangiato' the benchmark of prog instrumentals". Planet Rock. Bauer Radio. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  12. ^ a b Mosqueda, Ruben (October 23, 2017). "Keys To The Kingdom: An Exclusive Interview With SONS OF APOLLO Keyboardist Extraordinaire DEREK SHERINIAN". KNAC. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  13. ^ Maxwell, Jackson (August 21, 2017). "Mike Portnoy, Bumblefoot, Billy Sheehan Discuss Sons of Apollo in Exclusive Interview". Guitar World. NewBay Media. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  14. ^ a b c d e f Childers, Chad (October 20, 2017). "Sons of Apollo's Mike Portnoy + Derek Sherinian: We Transcend Dream Theater Comparison, Find Beauty in the 'Art of Strategic Wankery' [Interview]". Loudwire. Townsquare Media. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  15. ^ Catania, Andrew (20 October 2017). "Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal Discusses Sons Of Apollo And His Exit From Guns And Roses". All That Shreds. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  16. ^ Munro, Scott (November 2, 2017). "Sons Of Apollo's Mike Portnoy & Derek Sherinian discuss natural studio chemistry". Prog. TeamRock. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  17. ^ "SONS OF APOLLO - Coming Home (Track Commentary)" (Video). InsideOutMusicTV. YouTube. 21 September 2017. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  18. ^ "SONS OF APOLLO - Signs of the Time (Track Commentary)" (Video). InsideOutMusicTV. YouTube. 28 September 2017. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  19. ^ "SONS OF APOLLO Debut "Lost In Oblivion" Music Video; Psychotic Symphony Album Out Now". Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles. 20 October 2017. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  20. ^ Aresté, David; Torres, Quim (1 November 2017). "Entrevista a Derek Sherinian – Sons of Apollo –". Metal Symphony (in Spanish and English). Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  21. ^ Psychotic Symphony liner notes. Inside Out Music. 2017
  22. ^ a b Lewry, Fraser (October 6, 2017). "Sons Of Apollo - Psychotic Symphony album review". Team Rock. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  23. ^ "Sons Of Apollo - Psychotic Symphony review - Metal Storm". www.metalstorm.net.
  24. ^ a b Blum, Jordan (October 19, 2017). "Album Review: SONS OF APOLLO Psychotic Symphony". Metal Injection. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  25. ^ "Psychotic Symphony - SONS OF APOLLO". 28 October 2017.