If you imagine that a young band from Iceland delivering its debut album is likely to be nothing but roaring metal and grinding guitars, you would be dead wrong. Ring of Gyges are full of surprises, and they are mighty good surprises for any fan of melodic, powerful Prog.
Hailing from Reykjavik, this young band of independent proggers has delivered a debut album of such high quality and standard that it does, quite simply, defy any misperceptions that might be created by the relative youth of its members. Ring of Gyges’ debut album “Beyond the Night Sky” is stupendous.
Opening song “Ascend” is a consonant à capella harmony performance that would impress fans of any dedicated vocal harmony group. Beautifully executed, it immediately surprises, and gives way to the magnificent “Advaka”, a song that has already enjoyed some exposure on the internet. This song is a mature and innovative exposition of how to meld classic Prog influences with modern progressive power. Crisp and melodic, filled with emotive harmonies and finely composed, it has a classic flavor that attacks the listener with the perfect blend of melodic emotion and sonic power. A highly impressive start to a highly impressive album.
Second song “Aluminium God” is harder and heavier, with more of a classic rock feel, but it is no less pleasing. There are a few scattered growling vocals, but the song also contains a jazzy interlude and a quirky keyboard part that declare this band’s versatility. It feels almost as if the band are making an intentional point about their adaptability and ability to approach compositions from varied perspectives.
The longest piece on the album, “Dusk” is an opus that would be well-placed on any album by Prog’s biggest current acts. It opens with a gorgeous and fulfilling piece of sadness and introspection that then builds into a varied and diverse journey of progressive experimentation. There are intense arrangements, powerful Haken-like guitar riffs, Gentle Giant vocal counterpoints, superb solos and yes, cookie monster vocals at one point, but placed tastefully and selectively, as they should be. Ring of Gyges prove their Prog credentials once and for all with this song.
“Death’s Door” is an ethereal piano-based melodic Prog song with hints of Marillion, Pink Floyd and Queen, executed beautifully. “Not This Time” follows this trend and delivers one of the most haunting and tortured melodies you have heard. The latter is a risky arrangement and could easily have failed if delivered by less competent musicians, but it succeeds.
“(Instru)mentality” delivers exactly what its name would suggest. Five minutes of Prog instrumental quirk and virtuosity – no further explanation required.
“Dawn” is another epic that is very adventurous in its complexity. Requiring an investment of attention by the listener, this ten-minute song delivers excellent returns and musical dividends for that attention. Very melodic and filled with soundscapes built on the foundation of superb guitar work, the song peaks in a Prog-metal climax with a guitar solo reminiscent of Steve Vai, giving way to a lonely flute solo. It is immense.
“Descend” closes the album with a solitary vocal melody introduction accompanied by strings and keys leading into a slow metal groove of cinematic power, ending with the main riff reprised on lonely strings. This song demonstrates, yet again, that this band knows how to build melody into power with grace and emotion, while never losing respect for the composition.
The influences of bands like Opeth and Haken are indeed to be heard on this album, but so too are the influences of Rush, Yes and Genesis, all in good balance. All Prog, all melody, all power and all top-drawer in its quality, “Beyond the Night Sky” deserves recognition as a very important first album by a group of hugely promising young musicians that are to be watched closely. Could Ring of Gyges develop into the next big thing in Prog? Very possibly. Is their first album worth investing your money in? Most definitely. “Beyond the Night Sky” is, for me, the debut album of the year so far.
Released November 22, 2017
Tracklisting: 1.Ascend 02:24 2.Andvaka 05:05 3.Aluminum God 03:47 4.Dusk 13:46 5.Death’s Door 06:44 6.(Instru)Mentality 04:25 7.Not This Time 05:19 8.Dawn 09:53 9.Descend 04:18
Ring of Gyges are: Helgi Jónsson: Vocals, guitar, bass (“Dawn”), drums (“Not This Time”) Guðjón Sveinsson: Vocals, guitar Einar Merlin Cortes: Drums, percussion Gísli Þór Ingólfsson: Piano, organ, synths, vocals (“Death’s Door) Þorsteinn Ýmir Ásgeirsson: Bass
Back in the 80’s, when Genesis was atop the music world, there was also no shortage of success by its members through side projects. While Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel were floating on successful solo careers, guitarist Mike Rutherford opted instead to form a group called Mike + the Mechanics. The group saw immediate success with massive hits like “Silent Running”, “All I Need is a Miracle,” and “The Living Years.” Although they would not have as much success later on in the US, the band would continue to release albums earning a few more hits singles. The band, now with Rutherford as the lone original member, released a new album in 2017 called ‘Let Me Fly’ with singers Andrew Roachford (from 80s pop group Roachford) and Tim Howar replacing Paul Carrack and the late Paul Young.
On Friday, March 16th, in Ft. Lauderdale, the group kicked off a new North America tour to a delighted crowd at Parker Playhouse, a venue that has lately become the go-to place for exceptional concerts perhaps not meant for arena-sized crowds. It is a brilliantly designed venue with a great view from every seat and pristine sound. Mike + the Mechanics hit the stage shortly after 8pm and opened with their first hit “Silent Running,” a song instantly recognizable from the first keyboard note. Roachford seemed to take the role of Paul Carrack, sitting at a keyboard and displaying his own bit of soulfulness that Carrack so aptly provided. Roachford then handled another bit hit with “Another Cup of Coffee.” Howar, meanwhile, has a rock vibe about him and a rock voice to boot. Taking the songs mostly handled by Paul Young, Howar summoned the power necessary for songs like “The Best if Yet to Come” and the “Beggar on a Beach of Gold.”
Knowing the audience would expect it, Rutherford played 2 Genesis classics that fit with his current group’s sound in “Land of Confusion” and “I Can’t Dance,” both sung with bravado by Howar, who offered a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor much like Phil Collins would do. Newer material from their ‘Let Me Fly’ album garnered much applause, the title track being elevated by a live performance.
Roachford was given a chance to perform the hit he had in the 80s with his band Roachford with “Cuddly Toy” a fun number which allowed the band to play around a little bit with the audience. Of course, they closed the set with their biggest hits “The Living Years” and “All I Need is a Miracle” to a standing room only crowd. They then returned for an extended version of “Word of Mouth” from third 3rd album of the same name. It was a fantastic show full of uplifting songs and a bit of nostalgia. While we might not see a Genesis reunion any time soon, any chance to see its members live, performing these great songs, is a reason to go to a show.
Setlist: Silent Running Another Cup of Coffee Get Up The Best Is Yet to Come Land of Confusion High Life Wonder Let Me Fly A Beggar on a Beach of Gold Over My Shoulder Cuddly Toy I Can’t Dance The Living Years All I Need Is a Miracle Encore: Word of Mouth
With the release of Automata (Part 1), Between the Buried and Me have provided the next stage of their musical maturity; a concept album which is being revealed in two parts (the second part to be released in June). Tommy Rogers’ dark lyrics centered on the main character’s struggle with depression and the media exploitation of it. These five musicians successfully deliver a great journey with their signature power, precision, and sound longtime fans have adapted to hearing.
The opening track, “Condemned to the Gallows” sets the dark mood with a great and haunting acoustic guitar intro as so many classic metal albums have done. They capture the listener’s attention and set the expectation of the heaviness which is about to arrive. The perfect blend of rhythm and melody allows the band to quickly flex their metal muscle as growling vocals and melodic singing are equally represented while following the flow of the music. “House Organ” slaps one in the face with an onslaught of distortion guitars and a tight groove between Richardson and Briggs. Rogers signature growls is so well complimented by the more subdued breakdown which he then shows off his melodic singing. BTBAM show in their musical growth they are able to establish and ride a great groove rather than changing drastically every 16 bars. With their familiar sound established, now comes the meat of the album.
“Yellow Eyes” provides a satisfying 8-plus minute of BTBAM at their prog metal best. As fans will be able to appreciate and understand how all of the best past efforts are well balanced and combined to provide musical satisfaction for all to hear. Waggoner and Warring get to showcase their tight dueling harmonies as well as putting down some cool grooves complimented by Briggs’ low end foundation. In typical fashion, the halfway point introduces a cool groove giving the listener a break from the complex riffing and Briggs’ jedi bass playing is easily heard. Richardson’s relentless playing gets rewarded with a short snare solo complimented by Rogers’ keyboard. Paul Waggoner’s solo brings the song to a great conclusion which leads us to “Millions”.
The fourth album track establishes a clean easy groove then jolts into the chorus. Once again, the contrasting vocal styles are balanced and deliver the story well. “Gold Distance” is a brief transition of keys and some delicate bass lines surrounded by special effects leading to the ten minute album climax, “Blot”. This song brings all the elements which one would expect—it doesn’t disappoint. Interestingly, the opening keyboard and guitar line could be something out of Haken or Nova Collective—clearly, Briggs’ interactions with Haken’s Henshall have rubbed off a bit. Even at the 6 minute mark, there is a vocal melody line you could hear Haken influence as well. Overall, this track shines as it has everything BTBAM has to offer at the highest level of musical performance. The ending chorus is epic; but, just when you think a conclusion is due, the abrupt ending reminds us the second part is just a few months away…
A long time show business mantra is to always leave the audience wanting for more. Between the Buried and Me have done exactly this, now June cannot get here soon enough.
Released on March 9th, 2018 on Sumerian Records Key Tracks: Condemned to the Gallows, Blot
Tracks: 1-Condemned to the Gallows 2-House Organ 3-Yellow Eyes 4-Millions 5-Gold Distance 6-Blot
Lightning never strikes twice in the same place, does it? Thirteen years ago a lightning bolt called Kino cracked the 2005 Prog-pop sky and scorched the earth, albeit briefly but as powerfully as a tornado. It struck only once. The album, called Picture was the result of an enigmatically short-lived collaboration between lightning master John Mitchell (It Bites, Frost*), John Beck (keyboardist for It Bites and Fish), Marillion bassist Pete Trewavas and Porcupine Tree stick-man Chris Maitland. The one-off line-up did not flatter to deceive – on the contrary, it was a sky-kicking statement of progressive-pop power, melody and innovation delivered by masters. Like a bolt of lightning, it hit a mark that had never quite been struck before – a unique sweet spot of Prog, pop, power and electrifying chops that defied any descriptor other, simply, than “Kino”.
Picture subsequently became a rarity and was finally re-mastered and re-released to a demanding public in 2017. This led to inevitable discussions about a belated sophomore album, and now, no less than thirteen years after the first album, the follow-up has been released. Has lightning struck twice in the same place?
Kino’s second album, Radio Voltaire again features Mitchell and Trewavas, and though Beck is ubiquitous throughout the album, this time he is somewhat mystifyingly listed as a ‘special guest’. Mitchell’s (much deservedly) current go-to drummer, Craig Blundell (Steven Wilson, Frost*) completes the line-up as a full member.
The album comprises mostly shorter songs, and therefore gives vent to Kino’s more accessible side. It might at first seem a little surprising that nothing quite as adventurous as the lengthy epic “Loser’s Day Parade” from Picture has been attempted, but that should not deter you, because the music on this album is as substantial and is filled with the unique Prog-pop proclivities that made Picture so beloved by so many.
If there is an ‘epic’ on the album, it is the opening and title track “Radio Voltaire”. This moving piece starts with 1920’s radio voice-over that gives way to one of the most majestic, soaring guitar riffs you will ever hear (Mitchell clearly intends to make an early statement with this) and the composition unfurls into a varied and melodic extravaganza filled with cinematic suspense, delayed gratification and ultimate grandeur. Blundell and Trewavas make their mighty presence felt early on – the combination of the former’s trademark bass sound and the latter’s expansive but always tasteful drumming make for a rhythm section unlike any other you have heard. Mitchell’s searing guitar-work is abundant, and Beck’s keys are as fastidious and rich as ever. But is it Kino? No-one would argue to the contrary – the solid pop hooks, Prog leanings, unusual progressions, grand arrangement and conceptual message (in this case promoting freedom of expression) that Picture led us to long for so many years ago, are all there. Lightning seems to be prepared to strike in similar territory again.
Second track ‘The Dead Club’, already released on the internet as a teaser, starts with recorded German comments from members of the public, invited by Mitchell on social media. A typical oriental-sounding Beck piano chop leads into the granite groove that is the song’s foundation. It is a menacing 7/8 arrangement built around an angular Mitchell guitar riff, always underscored by that massive Trewavas bass sound. (Mitchell rightly seizes the opportunity to exploit this whenever he can.) The song is a white-hot bolt of metallic fire that serves as a contemplation on the death that we call life. Somber and cynical, it is at the same time strangely uplifting in a macabre way. Beck’s lonely keyboard stabs in the middle lead into a towering synth solo, and the bridge is highly melodic, reminding us that Kino is still about the combination of titanic power and pop melody. The groove builds like a tornado, until the storm subsides on the inevitable repeated message ‘Welcome to the Dead Club.’ The song indeed confirms that this is Kino as we know and love it, with the same edgy Prog-pop mixture, only this time with a somewhat moribund message – Mitchell’s mood is darker than in 2005.
‘Idlewild’ starts with plaintive Beck piano intro that is true Kino, culminating in a magnificent guitar solo. The lyrics are particularly impressive: “Shooting vapour trails at the sun, there’s nothing to declare – this race is run.’ Beautiful, and with lyrics like these, very few voices other than Mitchell’s would extract this particular emotion. He may be a baritone, but there is an edgy sweetness to his voice that works perfectly with this material, and is given all the more contrast by the gravitas of Trewavas’ bass. This ballad is a gorgeous exposition of how melody, power, lyrical introspection and instrumental virtuosity can evoke true emotion.
Comprised of pure power-pop filled with harmonies and hooks, next song “I Don’t Know Why” could be a cross between the Beatles, Cheap Trick and Foreigner. Yes, this could be 70’s classic rock, but it is not – it is 2018 Kino, and the difference is in Mitchell’s voice and harmony arrangements – he is the lightning conductor on this one, and the result is cheeky, fun and enjoyable. Tongues firmly in their cheeks, Kino offer an unashamed exposition of their pop-rock roots here. The song is unavoidably derivative, but one feels this is precisely what the band intended, and the outcome is genuinely pleasing.
“I Won’t Break So Easily Any More” starts with another 1920’s radio voice-over that is broken by a keyboard part that sounds intentionally like The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again’. But then the riff is taken to a completely new place. Power pervades as the band kicks into a frenzied, complex and varied rocker that is steeped in Prog mayhem. Beck’s keyboard solo (in accordance with the song’s theme) is invincible, and the guitar solo radiates with typical Mitchell spleandour. Unsurprisingly, the song could have been on “Picture”. Kino is definitely back, only this time with Craig Blundell, who wields the lightning rods that are his drumsticks like the god of thunder. This brilliant song extols the indomitable spirit that is Kino.
“Temple Tudor” is built around a beautiful baroque acoustic guitar/piano riff that will undoubtedly pull at your emotions. There is an incredible quality of longing in Mitchell’s voice when he is in a soulful mood. As powerful as his voice is when he is in full rocking flight, it is in the quieter pieces that the true nuance, quality and emotion of his much-underestimated vocal delivery truly become apparent. Lyrically, too, this man is not to be underrated: ‘What have we become? Nothing but sailors on a ship of fools’ – this song is simply gorgeous and hits a melodic and lyrical pinnacle.
‘Out of Time’ starts fittingly with the sound of a ticking alarm clock. Wake up, dear listener, because Kino is issuing a warning about inevitability and mortality. The song features a unique, sliding, slalom verse/chorus combination, delivered on a massive Trewavas/Blundell foundation that is reminiscent of no-one. A mid-tempo crack-in-the-sky rocker, this song allows the band the opportunity to experiment somewhat. For example, a complex, stabbing interlude shows that Kino is not at all inclined to forget its Prog responsibilities. The section gives way to a heart-wrenching slow jazz chord progression built around a tasteful Trewavas solo run that makes you wish it would never end. Blundell’s rim-shots, splashes, pings and pops show that his mastery of the kit is not just about speed and prowess – it is also about true musicality and taste. As proggy as it might be, this song’s chorus will, at the same time, take you back to the massive melodic pop hooks that entranced you every so often in the 1980’s. ‘Out of Time’ is another zenith on an already towering album.
‘Warmth of the Sun’ is a lazy, hazy vignette of less than 2 minutes that could easily have been discarded, but is somehow better left precisely where it is. No stormy weather here, but rather a little snippet of sunshine and heaven, just for you.
‘Grey Shapes on Concrete Fields’ is an interesting rocker built on Blundell’s patterns and power. He wields the lightning rod with full strike command on this one, and each bolt will electrify you. Fast and forceful, the song is at the same time quirky with some ghostly Beck keyboard sounds bringing up the rear. The drumming is simply incendiary. If ever a ‘lightning’ analogy was apposite, it is truly so in respect of Blundell, who has by now defeated all doubters and entrenched himself as the torch-bearer for the new generation of Prog drumming geniuses. Filled with lightning playing, emotive swells, powerful riffing and a definite peak and purpose, this cracker of a song will entrance any fan of “Picture”, and then some.
“Keep the Faith” may not be the high-point of innovation on the album (it is, in fact, a little dreary at the outset, and its composition does not approach the standard of the other songs), but it is not completely without moments of fulfillment, as it builds to an unusually subdued Mitchell harmony solo. The lyrics are also somewhat underwhelming (“This truth I give to you, it’s all that I can do…”) Built on a Beatles chord progression, this is the only unremarkable composition on the album.
Whatever the shortcomings of “Keep the Faith”, these are more than made up for in the brilliant closing track ”The Silent Fighter Pilot”. Mitchell has indicated that this might be his favourite track on the album, and it is easy to see why. A (possibly historical) description of the story of a fighter pilot giving his life, even the recognised kings of musical story-telling, Big Big Train, would be proud of this one. Using timelines to tell the story, Mitchell’s vocal commentary is angry, and his guitar is furious. The song channels an aviation-related tragedy of war, and it is just remarkable how the music reflects that morbid story. It levitates, glides and floats through the air, before swooping in resignation into an aerial instrumental strike. The frantic trajectory of Mitchell’s guitar solo leads to inescapable silent demise. The album ends with the mournful sound of a plane engine fading into the distance.
Thirteen years after the first album, one might think that Kino’s intention to recreate their trademark sound might have been lost and replaced with the usual desire to “do something new”. There is indeed an element of that approach, but only partially. Mitchell, ruling like Zeus with a lightning rod, has seemingly resisted the temptation just to provide his latest batch of songs to his talented friends and label them “Kino”. On the contrary, while this music is as fresh as a recently-struck daisy, the familiar innovation that fans would expect from Kino is not in the slightest way absent. Accessible and diverse compositions combined with virtuoso Prog delivery and a clear intent to ‘preserve the hook’ make this album a second lightning strike for Kino. This is not “Picture”, but the spirit of that album is far from lost. Mitchell’s knack for mixing Prog with pop melodies, without allowing the result to be too saccharine, remains. That spirit is preserved on this album, and the result is the Kino we so briefly came to love, with a sharper edge, a darker view, and a more progressive production.
The cover of Radio Voltaire hints at its sonic contents, which are darker, a little more foreboding and somewhat more macabre (especially in the latter part of the album.) Paul Tippet’s skull-bearing design is nicely emblematic of the music.
The usual predictable comment may be made that you will like this band if you like Frost*, It Bites, Steven Wilson, Lonely Robot and Marillion. This may be true, but it is, quite frankly, not the point. The point is rather that these four superstars, under Mitchell’s rod, have created an album that fulfills the unique Prog-pop promise made by “Picture” and yet somehow permeates new territory within the genre. There may not be plans to tour just yet, but let us hope that the Kino lightning bolt somehow becomes a rolling storm this time around. This album is sky-splitting stuff.
Released on March 23rd, 2018 on InsideOut Music Key Tracks: Radio Voltaire, Out of Time, Grey Shapes on Concrete Fields
Tracklisting: 1. Radio Voltaire (7:06) 2. The Dead Club (4:12) 3. Idlewild (6:03) 4. I Don’t Know Why (5:25) 5. I Won’t Break So Easily Any More (5:30) 6. Temple Tudor (4:32) 7. Out Of Time (6:22) 8. Warmth Of The Sun (1:50) 9. Grey Shapes On Concrete Fields (4:42) 10. Keep The Faith (5:38) 11. The Silent Fighter Pilot (4:50) – Bonus tracks – 12. Temple Tudor (Piano Mix) (4:29) 13. The Dead Club (Berlin Headquarter Mix) (4:02) 14. Keep The Faith (Orchestral Mix) (5:34) 15. The Kino Funfair (1:00)
Line-Up John Mitchell – vocals, guitars Pete Trewavas – bass, synths Craig Blundell – drums Special guest: John Beck – keyboards
Despite prog being associated with great keyboard players hailing back to greats like Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, Geoff Downes, Richard Wright, and more, the most recent generation of prog, while suffering no shortage of great keyboard players, has largely been a guitar dominated affair. Guitars have added more strings, music has gotten heavier, and ever more complicated. Most heralded instrumental albums are from the well-known guitarists of the world. However, with his self-titled release, Gleb Kolyadin aims to show that this no longer need be the case. With the success of his award-winning duo Iamthemorning as his springboard into notoriety, Kolyadin has now recorded a giant album with beyond explanation performances and songs that excite and thrill with every listen. Gleb Kolyadin is certainly the next great keyboardist we all need to recognize.
First off, attention must be made to the production. The recording is superb and the mix dynamic. The multitude of sounds escaping from the speakers each find their own place and have room to exist. The album was mixed and engineered by Vlad Avy, who also previously worked on the two Iamthemorning records, and once again did a fantastic job bringing this music to life. The list of musicians included on this album is an all-star prog cast, with notables like Gavin Harrison on drums, Nick Beggs on bass, Theo Travis on flute and sax, and guests like Steve Hogarth and Jordan Rudess, among the collection of superstars. But it is Kolyadin that shines brightest on this album.
The album opens with “Insight” and a rocking grand piano groove, before the immense drums from Gavin Harrison introduce themselves. The two of them are in perfect synch as the song weaves into various sections. Harrison is truly as gifted a drummer as there is on the world and it shows once again on this album. The second half of the song has a great keyboard hook that arrives unexpectedly, but by the end you are left wondering, what was that? It is the perfect opening to the album as it absolutely sets a warning, don’t leave, there’s more.
There are a few vocal tracks and they are powerful their dark overtones and textures. Mick Moss sings on “Astral Architecture,” a wonderful track that again allows Kolyadin to show his grand piano chops. Moss’s vocals are perfectly placed on this track. “White Dawn” is a delicate piano intro to the excitable “Kaleidoscope,” a song that is a brilliant prog jazz mix. Again, the drums are just stupendous. Flautist Theo Travis displays his skills on the second half of this song, perhaps the highlight of the album.
Marillion’s Steve Hogarth makes an appearance on two tracks, the long epic “Confluence” where he does a spoken word intro before a tribal beat takes over eventually erupting into a rock ending. He also sings on the album closer, the ballad “The Best of Times.” Hogarth again is able to bring emotion to a song like only he can. Jordan Rudess, meanwhile, appears on the penultimate track “Storytellers” and you can tell exactly where he comes in.
Gleb Kolyadin has crafted an undeniably glorious album here, one that exudes talent all over. He proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that any fame that has come to Iamthemoning was no fluke. He is not only a gifted pianist and keyboardist, but a brilliant songwriter and arranger. Expect more big things from this immense talent.
Released on Feb 23, 2018 on Kscope Music Key Tracks: Insight, Kaleidoscope, The Best of Days
Tracklisting: 1.Insight 4:12 2.Astral Architecture (feat Mick Moss) 6:30 3.White Dawn 2:34 4.Kaleidoscope 5:52 5.Eidolon 2:13 6.Into the Void 1:46 7.The Room 4:13 8.Confluence (feat Steve Hogarth) 10:22 9.Constellation The Bell 3:23 10.Echo Sigh Strand 2:29 11.Penrose Stairs 5:04 12.Storyteller (feat Jordan Rudess) 3:20 13.The Best of Days (feat Steve Hogarth) 3:24
Gleb Kolyadin – grand piano, keyboards Gavin Harrison – drums Nick Beggs – bass Theo Travis – flute, saxophones Vlad Avy – guitars Evan Carson – bodhran and percussion with Steve Hogarth Mick Moss – vocals and Jordan Rudess – keys also: Grigorii Osipov – vibraphone, marimba, glockenspiel Iliia Diakov – violin Alexander Peresypkin – cello Grigory Voskoboynik – double bass Tatiana Dubovaya – vocals Svetlana Shumkova – hang drum, spoken vocals
Concert: Sons of Apollo Monsters of Rock pre-cruise party concert Venue: Magic City Casino, Miami, FL, Feb 9th, 2018 Words and Pics by: Victor J. Giol
Having recently come off the Cruise to the Edge where Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian’s newest prog supergroup, Sons Of Apollo, had their first live performances, the musicians were about to experience the first reaction from a more rock/metal audience in the Monsters of Rock pre-cruise party at the Magic City casino in Miami. Performing their first concert in dry land.
As soon as the band started with Psychotic Symphony’s opening track, “God of the Sun”, it was clear the audience was raising the intensity level to something the band had yet to experience in a live setting.
“The [Cruise To The Edge] prog fans like to sit back, enjoy, and soak up the music and experience,” explained Jeff Soto, however, it was clear the band would welcome the more intense audience response of a Monsters of Rock Cruise party. The band responded with precision and power; all of which was very well controlled and mixed by Jerry Guidroz.
The band delivered solid performances of Signs of the Time and Divine Addiction and then immediately Portnoy broke into the familiar opening drum fill of his long time former band’s cover “Just Let Me Breathe”. While the band had delivered a great performance up to this point, hearing Soto and Ron Bumblefoot Thal pull of this Dream Theater song with precision makes the audience realize there is no weak link in this super prog metal group. Then comes “Labyrinth” which shows off the band’s ability to compose a prog metal epic with the come-to-expect technically superior instrumental breakdowns and extended solos. Billy Sheehan also delivered a bass solo which long time fans have come to expect and yet he blew them away with his limitless speed on the fretboard.
Sons of Apollo truly established themselves as a live powerhouse in not only performing their own material, but in performing great covers from the likes of Queen’s “Save me” (as a tribute to Soto’s brother and Mr. Big’s Pat Torpey), the big band jazzy tune of Mancini’s ‘Pink Panther Theme”, and the classic rock sound of Van Halen’s “The Cradle Will Rock”. They closed the show with the single off their first music video “Coming Home”. Their performance was one which impressed this crowd and left them wanting for more. Being this solid on their third show really baffles the mind as to how these guys are going to be when they hit their mid-tour form. Their first album is made for a live presentation. It is time to witness their virtuostic collective prowess come to life. Check the prog report’s album review here. Also check out the Prog Report for announcements of new tour dates.
1. God of the Sun 2. Signs of the Time 3. Divine Addiction 4. Just Let Me Breathe (DT cover) 5. Labyrinth 6. The Prophet’s Song/Save Me (Queen cover) 7. Alive 8. Bumblefoot solo – Henry Mancini’s Pink Panther Theme 9. And the Cradle Will Rock (VH cover) 10. Coming Home