Sons of Apollo – ‘Psychotic Symphony’ (2017) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

The roots of Sons of Apollo stem back to the band Dream Theater as both Derek Sherinian and Mike Portnoy were once members. They both left Dream Theater (Sherinian fired in 1999 and Portnoy left in 2010) and eventually teamed back up for a short-lived instrumental project called PSMS with Billy Sheehan and Tony MacAlpine. Billy had played with Mike in the band The Winery Dogs. Eventually, Derek, Mike and Billy decided to make it a full time band (not a project) and they started Sons of Apollo. They needed a guitarist and Mike suggest Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal because why not, he’s fantastic. They also needed a singer and Mike suggested Jeff Scott Soto as his band had opened for The Winery Dogs and I am guessing Mike was impressed. The band was complete and ready to go.

The band recorded in only 10 days as their schedules were busy. They were produced by the dynamic duo called The Del Fuvio Brothers. What? You never heard of them…well…it is the nickname that both Derek and Mike had while in Dream Theater so they used that as the Producer name since they both produced the album. The band’s sound is a pinch of early Dream Theater and a dab of pure Classic Rock. Musically, the songs were written mostly by Portnoy and Sherinian with help from Bumblefoot and Billy. Soto handled most of the lyrics, but there was input Sherinian and Portnoy on a lot of the songs as well. It was a team effort (led by Derek & Mike).

The cover art work on the album was handled by Mike Portnoy. He had the vision. It was going to be two lions facing each other, but Derek suggested that his lion be an eagle and you can see it holding the keyboard while the lion is holding the drumsticks. There is a crown with a bunch of Bumblefoot and Billy’s headstocks form their guitar and bass behind it. I am not sure what part represents Soto. Is it the crown because he is the king of vocals or are the 3 spikes in the center actually pipes which would represent his vocal pipes? I don’t know, I’m making things up as I go along. The album title comes from the song “Lost in Oblivion” which has the line ‘Psychotic Symphony” in one of the verses. The album was released on October 20, 2017 to much critical acclaim and was a resounding success.

The progressive metal / hard rock sound is a great mix and is nothing like Jeff Scott Soto had ever done in the past. Jeff had said that the Sons of Apollo band and albums are the most attention any one has ever paid to him both with the fans and with the critics. And I would add that this is probably the most talented bunch of guys he’s ever played with and he has played with some very talented individuals. However, for me, I am not a massive progressive metal fan so this is a big challenge for me to wrap my head around. So, I am not sure if this is shitty progressive metal or the best thing ever as it is hard for to judge it against other type bands of this genre because I can’t. All I can say is how I liked it (or not) and how it made me feel. So, here we go…

The album kicks off with “God of the Sun” which is an epic, 11 minute+ masterpiece. The middle eastern flair with a sitar by Ashwin Batish. Then a lot of keyboard and Bumblefoot comes in with a killer riff along with Billy laying down a bass groove. Portnoy’s drums are powerful and bombastic and Derek’s keyboard’s paint a beautiful landscape to really set the tone. Jeff’s vocals are legendary and impressive as hell. The first 5 minutes of this song are utter brilliance and a solid rock song. Then the album gets even more interesting with the time changes, style changes and the take us an unparalleled journey as things slow down, Jeff’s soften’s his tone to match the music yet the vocals are still so powerful. Derek lays down what is his favorite solo on the album and I see why as the melodies are wonderful. Things get hard and heavy again with Billy and Mike laying down a gritty groove and then Bumblefoot shreds a solo that will leave you wanting more and when he and Derek battle back and forth…DAMN!! The song comes back around to the “God of the Sun” vocals and chorus and it all blends beautifully together. I usually don’t like these long, progressive type tracks, but this flowed so well and was so interesting, how could I not love it.

Then what I thought was a speedy guitar opening riff, I realize is actually Derek on keys and it is simply mesmerizing. The band joins in and pure rock song called “Coming Home” lets loose. It is a cross between Van Halen and Motley Crue and GNR with its riffs and aggressiveness. Soto attacks the lyrics and delivers a stellar performance again as the chorus is catchy and don’t forget the riffs and the killers solo by Bumblefoot. The sound is immense and powerful and the song will get rocking for sure.

“Sign of the Times” is another heavy rocker, but this one seems a little darker and harder edged. Soto’s vocal approach matches that intensity and darkness. The song’s riffing is a mixture of Korn and Pantera and if you have any doubts about that, the original title of the Bumblefoot riff that was used was called “Korntera”. I also read that the riff at the chorus was inspired by “The Humpty Dance” by Digital Underground…I don’t hear it, but I was listening for it. The keyboard solo is another impressive one Sherinian and he has so many on this album. Another stellar track and we are off to a great start.

That great start comes to end with “Labyrinth” which is exactly what the title implies. A bunch of twists and turns and that for me all lead to a dead end. There was nothing connecting the sections and the unusual time signatures never grabbed hold of me. Plus, I thought Jeff’s vocals were not very good either at the beginning as it was a range that he didn’t sound comfortable singing. I really like melodies, structure and a nice chorus and this gives me none of that. No denying the talent of these musicians, but this is the type of progressive metal song I don’t like.

“Alive” brings back to the more straight-forward rock songs. As close to a ballad as you are gonna get, it sees Soto deliver lyrics with sensitive tone that draws all the emotion he can muster. The song could probably fit on any Soto album. Bumblefoot’s playing has a jazzy undertone especially in that solo. It might not offer all the acrobatic musical tools this band can muster, but it gave me a rock song with no fancy playing, just solid playing is all I need and they deliver.

An air-raid siren unleashes hell on earth with “Lost in Oblivion”. A barrage of drum burst from Portnoy and a massive assault of vocals from Soto will terrorize the enemy. The song feels like a battle, a vicious attack and maybe the heaviest song on the album. The bass and guitar playing are immense and the solo for both Bumblefoot and Derek are intense as they battle back and forth. You even get a drum break with Portnoy pounding away that is matched by Thal’s riffing. Sheehan even lays down a quick solo. Everyone gets a chance to shine and it all works so well.

“Figaro’s Whore” might be the only instrumental song to get an “Explicit Lyric” on it when it has no lyrics. The title got it flagged. The figaro part is due to the keyboard sounding like the “Barber of Seville”. This is a very short instrumental and is a prelude to the next track, but not needed at all.

“Divine Addiction” was completely ripped off from Deep Purple, just listen to the opening riffs (done on keyboard). There is a whole Jon Lord vibe and even Soto does a little Coverdale on this one. The song is heavier than Purple, but the influences are proudly worn on its sleeves. A song about sex addiction is secondary to the playing by these guys. This is a joyful ride down the Purple highway of rock!

The final track is an all instrumental, full on prog piece that goes on for over 10 minutes. “Opus Maximus” is just what it says. It goes to the Max. The problem with me, other then its length, is there is nothing catchy to hook me in and interest me. The Sheehan bass work is great, but there is a droning to it that I don’t like. There are melodies to the instrumentals at times, but not catchy enough. Sure, these guys are uber talented, but this is why I’m not a fan of prog as I don’t find this stuff interesting. It is like it is free flowing jazz, but nothing connects. I think a prog fan would love this, I’m not one of those.

Track Listing:

  1. God of the Sun – Keeper
  2. Coming Home – Keeper
  3. Signs of the Time – Keeper
  4. Labyrinth – Delete
  5. Alive – Keeper
  6. Lost in Oblivion – Keeper
  7. Figaros Whore – Delete
  8. Divine Addiction – Keeper
  9. Opus Maximus – Delete

The Track Score is 6 out of 9 Tracks or 67%.  Thankfully, this album had a mixture of the progressive metal and classic rock because if it was all prog style, I would’ve hated this.  However, the opening track “God of the Sun” was prog style and I loved it.  The straight ahead, more classic rock style songs I also loved. The playing is phenomenal, there is no denying as each of these players are some of the best. Derek Sherinian is unmatched on keyboards by anyone today; Mike Portnoy is one of the standout drummers as well and Bumblefoot doesn’t get enough recognition for his stellar playing; and it is Common Knowledge the bass player is on the top of his game.  And I don’t want to leave out Jeff as he is a high, in demand vocalist and the reason for this series so you know I love his work.  All are fantastic players and the songs on here I liked, I really liked.  The songs that I didn’t, doesn’t mean they weren’t great, just not my cup of tea.  My Overall Score is a 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars and I am interested to see what the other Sons of Apollo albums have in store.



  1. Panther – ‘Panther’ (1986) – recorded in 1984
  2. Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force – ‘Rising Force’ (1984)
  3. Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force – ‘Marching Out’ (1985)
  4. Kuni – ‘Lookin’ For Action’ (1988)
  5. Kryst the Conqueror – ‘Deliver Us From Evil’ (1989) / ‘Soldiers of Light: The Complete Recordings (2019)
  6. Eyes – ‘Eyes’ (1990)
  7. Eyes – “Nobody Said It Was Easy” (1990) – 7″ Single – Bonus Edition
  8. Talisman – ‘Talisman’ (1990)
  9. Talisman – “I’ll Be Waiting” (1990) – 7″ Single – Bonus Edition
  10. Skrapp Mettle – ‘Sensitive’ (1991)
  11. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Eternal Prisoner’ (1992)
  12. Bakteria – ‘Deficate! Suffocate! Mutilate! Masturbate!’ (1992 / 2009)
  13. Eyes – ‘Windows of the Soul’ (1993)
  14. Talisman – ‘Genesis’ (1993)
  15. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘The Ballads’ (1993)
  16. Biker Mice From Mars – ‘Biker Mice From Mars (Soundtrack)’ (1993)
  17. Takara – ‘Eternal Faith’ (1993)
  18. Talisman – ‘5 Out Of 5 (Live in Japan)’ (1994)
  19. Talisman – ‘Humanimal’ (1994)
  20. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Between the Walls’ (1994)
  21. Gary Schutt – ‘Sentimetal’ (1994)
  22. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Love Parade’ (1994)
  23. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Made in Germany (Live)’ (1995)
  24. Takara – ‘Taste of Heaven’ (1995)
  25. Talisman – ‘Life’ (1995)
  26. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Black Moon Pyramid’ (1996)
  27. Human Clay – ‘Human Clay’ (1996)
  28. Talisman – ‘Best of’ (1996)
  29. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Magic’ (1997)
  30. Human Clay – ‘U4IA’ (1997)
  31. Boogie Knights – ‘Welcome to the Jungle Boogie’ (1997)
  32. Takara – ‘Blind in Paradise’ (1998)
  33. Talisman – ‘Truth’ (1998)
  34. ‘Rock Star: Music from the Motion Picture (Soundtrack)’ – Various Artists (2001)
  35. Humanimal – ‘Humanimal’ (2002)
  36. Humanimal – Find My Way Home: Limited Edition E.P. (2002)
  37. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Holding On E.P.’ (2002)
  38. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Prism’ (2002)
  39. Talisman – ‘Live at Sweden Rock Festival’ (2002)
  40. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘JSS Live at the Gods 2002’ (2003)
  41. Talisman – ‘Cats & Dogs’ (2003)
  42. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Believe in Me E.P.’ (2004
  43. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Lost in the Translation’ (2004)
  44. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live at the Queen Convention 2003’ (2004)
  45. Soul SirkUS – ‘World Play’ (2004/2005)
  46. Talisman – ‘Five Men Live’ (2005)
  47. Talisman – ‘World’s Best Kept Secret DVD (2005)
  48. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Essential Ballads’ (2006)
  49. Journey – ‘Live from Atlanta (Bootleg)’ (2006)
  50. Talisman – ‘7’ (2006)
  51. Talisman – The Albums Ranked Worst to First
  52. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘B-Sides’ (2006)
  53. Redlist – ‘Ignorance’ (2007)
  54. Jeff Scott Soto – LA Rocks Demo / Vinnie Vincent Demo 1988 (2008)
  55. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Beautiful Mess’ (2009)
  56. Jeff Scott Soto – “21st Century” / “Gin & Tonic Sky” CD Single (2009) – Bonus Edition
  57. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘One Night in Madrid’ (2009)
  58. Trans-Siberian Orchestra – ‘Night Castle’ (2009)
  59. W.E.T. – ‘W.E.T.’ (2009)
  60. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live at Firefest 2008’ (2010)
  61. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Damage Control’ (2012)
  62. W.E.T. – ‘Rise Up’ (2013)
  63. W.E.T. – ‘One Live in Stockholm’ (2014)
  64. Jeff Scott Soto – The Authorized Biography (2014)
  65. SOTO – ‘Inside the Vertigo’ (2015)
  66. Joel Hoekstra’s 13 – Dying to Live (2015)
  67. SOTO – ‘Divak’ (2016)
  68. Sons of Apollo – ‘Psychotic Symphony’ (2017)
  69. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Retribution’ (2017)
  70. W.E.T. – ‘Earthrage’ (2018)
  71. SOTO – ‘Origami’ (2019)
  72. Sons of Apollo – ‘Live With the Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony’ (2019)
  73. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Wide Awake (In My Dreamland)’ (2020)
  74. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live and Loud in Milan 2019’ (2020)
  75. Sons of Apollo – ‘MMXX’ (2020)
  76. SOTO – ‘Revision’ (2020)
  77. Talisman – “Never Say Die (A Song For Marcel)” – 7″ Single (2020)
  78. W.E.T. – ‘Retransmission’ (2021)
  79. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘The Duets Collection, Vol. 1’ (2021)
  80. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Complicated’ (2022)
  81. Ellefson/Soto – ‘Vacation in the Underground’ (2022)
  82. Jeff Scott Soto / Jason Bieler – Live In Concert (2022) – Bonus Edition

20 thoughts on “Sons of Apollo – ‘Psychotic Symphony’ (2017) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

  1. These guys get a lot of press but does it translate to sales? Talented bunch of players no doubt but I have a hard time wrapping my head around these supergroups. Contraband back in ’91 ruined it for me lol

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Yeah that does makes sense that this would be Jeff’s most known project. It’s a stellar group of musicians with pretty big profiles. I like prog in smaller doses and/or depending on mood and I dug this album quite a bit. They kept things on the rails for the most part but also showed off each person’s ability. Also reminds me that I haven’t heard their other one, forgot all about it in the ramp up to Covid.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree! I totally forgot about the second album, and when I looked it got released in January 2020, pre-Covid Times. Seems like new releases before/during/and for sometime after March 2020 got the short shrift from me as a listener!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I guess our opinions are the same here. Those three deletes are also the same three I’ll delete as well. Most of the songs are cool rock songs, it’s just when they go into the interlude and solo sections that the songs become progressive.

    It’s how DT was up to when Portnoy left. After that everything became progressive with them.

    Liked by 1 person

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