A Psychotic Symphony (2017) by the Sons of Apollo

Psychotic Symphony is the debut album of the American prog-metal supergroup Sons of Apollo composed of Mike Portnoy (dr), Billy Sheehan (bs), Derek Sherinian (ks), Jeff Scott Soto (vc), and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (gt). It was released on 20 October 2017 on Inside Out Music.

The first time I heard of Sons of Apollo was through the video release of the song Signs of the Time in August 2017, which simply blew my mind. I’ve been a big fan of basically anything that Billy Sheehan has worked on, and in combination with mike Portnoy’s drumming, this project could only win me over. And, it eventually did.

I agree with Clay Marshall’s comment on blabbermouth.net: “It takes a certain self-assured confidence—if not outright cockiness—to make a record like this, but perhaps such swagger is only possible after having already fought in the trenches together, as Portnoy and Sherinian did for five years in DREAM THEATER. That said, while “Psychotic Symphony” is a bold overture, it seems a safe bet that SONS OF APOLLO’s next movement will shine even brighter.” This album is definitely a good start.

Franco Cerchiari at hardrockhaven.net explains, “When hearing people like Soto, Thal, Sheehan, Sherinian, and Portnoy by themselves, it is a “wow” factor, but when hearing them as an ensemble it becomes a “holy shit” factor. Because of the talents of the band members alone, and how amazing these songs sound when coming from people who are deserving of the “wow” factor, a 9/10 is entirely fair. Of course worthless American radio will ignore this release and once again fail to do just what it is that radio is supposed to do (support bands and play their music) but for fans who want to hear just what a group of people like those who make up Sons of Apollo can produce, you need to hear this.” Another comment I can support. Sons of Apollo brings in the best prog-characteristics its instrumentalists have to offer and wraps it in a wonderful modern package without losing the individuals’ identity, while adding Jeff Scott Soto’s trademark voice.

A more critical argument is raised by Jordan Blum at metalinjection.net: “Psychotic Symphony is by no means a bad album; it’s just an unforgivably ineffective and tedious one because of how ordinary it is. There’s no denying that Sons of Apollo contains some of the best instrumentalists in the field—and Soto is certainly an incredible singer—but that’s precisely why it’s disappointing that they put so much time, effort, and hype into a release that offers almost nothing new.” Mr Blum might be right. However, I feel what can be considered as ‘ordinary’ in this album, I would consider ‘based upon established elements’. What I mean by that is, as touched upon above, I can clearly hear the trademark musicianship of all involved within the songs and the songwriting. Something I really appreciate on this album, given my interest in all individual artists.

According to Wade Reitz at echoesanddust.com, “When it’s all said and done, Sons of Apollo is just Portnoy and Sherinian wanting to play together again, and Psychotic Symphony is the result. Soto, Thal, and Sheehan are just there for added flex, as we know Portnoy and Sherinian could’ve gotten anyone to play with them given the right timing. That’s alright, because Sons of Apollo aren’t Dream Theater, but Psychotic Symphony is probably as close to another Falling Into Infinity as I’m ever going to get.” Fair point. Although, having Sheehan on board, who’s been playing with Portnoy since 2010 adds tremendous value to the rhythm section. As well as the unmistakably remarkable voice of Soto and the unique guitar sounds of Thal.

I’d like to conclude with a beautiful note by Carl O’Rourke at metalwani.com: “The pride felt for ‘Psychotic Symphony’ by the artists whom created it will be shared amongst fans of their respective pasts and bright future, leaving little confusion as to why these musicians have chosen to make Sons of Apollo their priority.” Man, I love this album.

Sebastiano Mereu

YouTuber + host of the #FHTZ online music show with co-producer @simonkurt + marketing & digital content producer + university lecturer