Sons of Apollo – ‘MMXX’ (2020) – Album Review (the Jeff Scott Soto Series)

After playing over 80 shows together to support the debut album, Derek Sherinian, Mike Portnoy and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal joined up at Mike’s studio and started working on the new album. The three gelled and wrote the album in around 3 weeks. Of course, after that, the songs need lyrics and that is were lead singer Jeff Scott Soto comes in as he wrote all the lyrics for the album (with minor exceptions of help from Mr. Sherinian on some of the melodies). And the songs were ready to record. Writing and recording happened over 8 months and each member of the band, including bassist Billy Sheehan, able to work in their own studios for their parts.

The album was called MMXX which is 2020 in Roman Numerals and the time when it was released which was on January 17, 2020. The album’s sound changed a little from the last album which had a lot of sounds from the past as it had some Dream Theater elements as well as some classic rock. This time around, they went for a more modern sound and a much more polished feel which is why the cover with the band’s crest seems more polished. The prior songs were more mythical and now they are more futuristic. Is the change in a sound a good thing or is it a bad thing? I guess we need to go through the tracks and find out.

The opening song and first single (came out on November 15, 2019), “Goodbye Divinity”, brings the prog right out of the gate as it goes on for about 2 minutes before Soto gets his pipes in the mix. After that happens it becomes a solid rock song with ample time for each musician to show what they can do. With not just hints of Dream Theater’s sound, but obvious stamps that show their roots are front and center. Honestly, it is a good song, but not as strong as the opener “God of the Sun” from the debut in my opinion. The working title on this one was called “Blood Orchid” which was inspired by a riff by Derek that he did during one of his live solos (thanks wiki for that one).

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Sons of Apollo – ‘Live with the Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony’ (2019) – Album Review (the Jeff Scott Soto Series)

This is not a side project, the band has made that clear and one way to prove that Sons of Apollo is a band is to tour and they did. But the show they decided to record wasn’t just a tour show, Nope! It was so much more. And it needed to be. They needed to capture the true essence of what this band is about and I have to say, I believe they did that and then some. They recorded the show back on September 22, 2018 at The Ancient Roman Amphitheater in Plovdiv Bulgaria and what a beautiful setting it is. Worthy of the Sons of the God Apollo. And the show couldn’t just be the band playing, Nope. It needed a little something extra so they brought in the Plovdiv Orchestra and a choir nicely named for this show as the Psychotic Symphony. This isn’t a band playing their songs with a symphony like so many bands, this is different, fresh and exciting.

You get it all packaged in a 3 CD set, that is right…3 CDs cover the whole entire show. Over 2 1/2 hours of rock & roll & prog bliss!! And if that isn’t enough, they throw in a DVD of the entire show as well. And the DVD is really where it is at in my book. Listening to the CD is great and you will enjoy the show, but when you watch it live and see these guys in action, Holy Shit!! These guys can play and they put on a master class of what musicianship really is. With Jeff Scott Soto on vocals, Mike Portnoy and drums, Derek Sherinian on Keyboards, Billy Sheehan on bass and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal on guitar, these are some of the best in the field and they show you how it is done.

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