Last sighted in 2017, Styx return with a fabulous effort and coupled with Dennis De Young’s farewell album, it’s a double whammy for all Styx fans.
Written by: gmonline
ALBUM: Crash Of The Crown
LABEL: UMe Records
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: Tommy Shaw – vocals, guitar * James Young – vocals, guitar * Larry Gowan – vocals, keyboards * Ricky Phillips – bass, guitar, backing vocals * Chuck Panozzo – bass, backing vocals * Todd Sucherman – drums, percussion
TRACK LISTING: 01 The Fight Of Our Lives * 02 A Monster * 03 Reveries * 04 Hold Back The Darkness * 05 Save Us From Ourselves * 06 Crash Of The Crown * 07 Our Wonderful Lives * 08 Common Ground * 09 Sound The Alarm * 10 Long Live The King * 11 Lost At Sea * 12 Coming Out The Other Side * 13 To Those * 14 Another Farewell * 15 Stream
WEBLINKS: Site Link
We don’t write about Styx a lot these days, but they’ve been in the press lately. What with this timely release coupled with the farewell album of former alumni Dennis DeYoung, and his excellent ’26 East Volume 2′ release, a double whammy of Styxian proportions has landed and prog/pomp fans should be delighted.
It’s been a near 50 year journey for the Chicagoans, but time has a funny way of presenting itself to audiences of the band. It’s like 1971 was just a few days ago in the minds of some. Last seen with the excellent 2017 album ‘The Mission’, which had a science orientation (as in ‘Mission to Mars’), one wonders what the album title ‘Crash Of The Crown’ actually refers to. There are several possibilities at play here, perhaps readers might add a comment below offering their thoughts on the matter.
The new album is the third release courtesy of UME Records (including ‘Big Bang Theory’ and ‘The Mission’), the timing of it lines up nicely as we head deep into the hazy days of the Northern Hemisphere summer of 2021. Even though much of this record was originally written back in 2018, and 2019, it’s taken this long to get the record out due to COVID and also because the band members are scattered all across the North American continent, making recording an awkward process.
The short and snappy opener ‘The Fight Of Our Lives’ is a typical anthem that we’ve heard from Styx over the decades, they know how to lassoo the listener at the first call. Though it might sound like a curious songtitle, ‘A Monster’ is themed in acoustics and with a style similar to the old chestnut ‘Sing For The Day’, this should be easily acessible to long-time fans.
We get more of this with the acoustic/electric hybrid of ‘Reveries’, it has a slight celtic flavour throughout and along with the multi-part harmonies, this track comes to life. The somber beginning of ‘Hold Back The Darkness’ keeps this one floating around the minor chords, but for me it’s the first highlight of the disc. Eeriely it echoes similarly to Pink Floyd in places.
At this point, the listener should be getting the vibe that Styx are singing about things like social injustice, fighting the good fight, in fact, all the things we experienced during the COVID and post COVID eras, even if the music was written back in 2019. Do these guys do predictions for lotto numbers as well? This is obvious when tuning into ‘Save Us From Ourselves’and ‘Crash Of The Crown’ for instance.
‘Our Wonderful Lives’ is a lovely bright ray of sunshine, though slightly in contrast to the lyrical message of doubt, despair and depression. ‘Common Ground’ is a likeable tune too after the beating war drums of the intro have made their way. If you’ve ever been to war on social media platforms, you’ll know how difficult it is to achieve common ground.
‘Sound The Alarm’ and ‘Long Live The King’ are another pairing of tunes aimed squarely at the COVID shenanigans, the song titles should be a dead giveaway if you correlate them to mask wearing, vax jabs and President Trump. ‘Lost At Sea’ is the brief prelude to ‘Coming Out The Other Side’, a song that meanders. The dry mix is punctuated by some thumping synth bass through the middle.
‘To Those’ is a hark back to the Styx era of arena rock from decades gone by. It’s like listening to ‘Paradise Theater’ once more. The message is like reverse psychology in motion, coupled with the Alan Parsons styled arpeggiated synth sequence, this one’s a keeper. ‘Another Farewell’ is another brief interlude which segues into the finale ‘Stream’, and though it is relatively brief, the Pink Floyd styled guitar work should warm the cockles.
This is our second review of the album as DaveT wrote this up back in 2021. My write-up is a year late, but as it was already in draft, I decided to continue on with it. The assembled six piece is as flashy and professional as always, and I have no doubt that this record will add greatly to the canon of works delivered by the band over years of productivity.
A review of this album would be incomplete without mention of engineer and producer Will Evankovich. Will also worked on ‘The Mission’ and has intimate knowledge of Styx’s material. He is counted as the seventh member of the band, and even performs onstage as the live mixing engineer. I’m sure the band appreciate his sterling efforts hovering in the background. One of the better efforts of 2021.
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