The Mission (Reviews)

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The Mission (Reviews)

Postby ChicagoSTYX » Sat May 27, 2017 4:36 am

With The Mission just a few weeks away we should start to see more reviews.
I'll post whatever I find here and hopefully others will do the same.

http://rockshowcritique.com/2017/05/cd- ... e-mission/

The Mission
2017
Alpha Dog 2T/UMe Records
Release Date: June 16, 2017
By: Thom Jennings

Styx surprised their fan base with the announcement of their first album of new material in 14 years. The Mission is an ambitious concept album that is the band’s best effort since Kilroy was Here, the last album by the band’s classic lineup.

2017 marks the 40th anniversary of Styx’s breakthrough album The Grand Illusion which was their seventh album released on 7/7/77, and thus it seems appropriate that Styx has marked the anniversary with a solid new album.

The Mission has elements of the group’s progressive rock phase which culminated in a pair of the group’s iconic releases, Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight. The group continued with concept albums after that period but moved away from prog in favor of more succinct and radio-friendly songs.

If you have any knowledge of the bands Wooden Nickel era albums you may be struck at how The Mission seems to perfect what the band was doing back in the days before Tommy Shaw joined them and changed Styx’s trajectory forever.

From the opening notes of the first cut “Overture” it is evident that you will be in for a great ride. The first cut “Gone Gone Gone” is a short, energetic track that sets the stage for the subsequent tale about a mission to Mars. Lawrence Gowan’s vocals on the track and the rest of the album are special, and the track would be an ideal opener for their shows because it is instantly likable.

The rest of the album is filled with nuggets, and while The Mission is an album that should be listened from beginning to end, songs like “Radio Silence” and “Red Storm” are standout tracks that should wind up on your Styx playlist.

To sum all that up, The Mission is not an album of individual songs strung together haphazardly, it’s an album with a logical sequence of songs and a concept that is intriguing and easy to follow. The Mission has elements of early Styx albums like the often maligned The Serpent is Rising and the revered Equinox album that bridged the proggy Wooden Nickel catalogue with the A&M era. In many ways the album refines and perfects the early Styx sound with respect for the group’s early sound and Styx’s Important place in recorded music history.

At time The Mission sounds like classic Pink Floyd with hints of Canadian prog greats like Saga or Rush. The Canadian influence may be the result of Lawrence Gowan’s input, whatever the case it works incredibly well because while the album is complex, it is not filled with excess.

The Mission is an album that is worthy of many listens, and even after only four times through I have grown to appreciate the album more each listen. Hopefully there is enough support of the album to warrant it being performed live in its entirety.

Track Listing
01 Overture
02 Gone Gone Gone
03 Hundred Million Miles from Home
04 Trouble at the Big Show
05 Locomotive
06 Radio Silence
07 The Greater Good
08 Time May Bend
09 Ten Thousand Ways to Be Wrong
10 Red Storm
11 All Systems Stable
12 Khedive
13 The Outpost
14 Mission to Mars
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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby ChicagoSTYX » Sat May 27, 2017 11:02 am

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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby ChicagoSTYX » Sun May 28, 2017 1:59 am

https://skynyrdscotland.wordpress.com/2 ... omplished/

Mission Accomplished

During the late 70s and early 80s, Styx ruled the progressive rock roost in America releasing a succession of hit LPs. On June 16 the band unveil The Mission, their eagerly awaited 16th studio album and their first record of all-new material in fourteen years. It has been a lengthy hiatus, but as Styx fans are about to find out, good things come to those who wait.

On this occasion, the black vastness of space acts as the band’s musical canvas. The storyline details a manned mission to Mars in 2033 and chronicles the experiences of the crew aboard the vessel, the Kvievel. Styx frontman Tommy Shaw and his long-time song writing collaborator authored the thirteen tracks.

I recently interviewed Shaw and the band’s manager Charlie Brusco to find out more about the LP.

As Shaw reveals, the record was in gestation for a number of years with its embryonic notes penned backstage before one of the band’s concerts: “The very last song on the record, Mission to Mars – the little opening effect, the guitar phrase, I came up with that in the dressing room one night and then I recorded it and played it back and played some chords with it.

“When I got home I laid out a session in my studio, laid down all the guitar parts, put a bass guitar part in, some programmed drums behind it and then I wrote a middle section to it so it had a bit of relief in the middle. And then the time to start lyrics, I picked up a pencil and it’s kind of a limerick sort of feel to the verses. The first thing that I wrote was ‘now I can say that this is the day that we will be on our way on our Mission to Mars’, and it was as a big surprise to me as to anyone else.”

The LP was recorded in Nashville over a two-year period and Shaw concedes that constant touring delayed its release: “It would not have taken so long but over the past 17/18/19 years our business has been going out on the road and playing concerts, the last time we made a record was fourteen years ago. Things have changed though, and we realised that if we did put out a record their were places we could go to get it out to our fans.”

The first single from the LP, Gone Gone Gone, packs a hefty punch. It’s a rallying cry to the crew, getting them fired up for the long journey. Lawrence Cowan is brilliant on this one. Check out the video that accompanies this single, it shows him strutting around the stage like a peacock, bossing the song with a fantastic vocal performance. There is also scintillating guitar wizardry from James “JY” Young, incendiary drumming from Todd Sucherman and deep-toned bass from Ricky Phillips.

Light it up, Let’s get this show on the road!

Young’s guitar sparks Hundred Million Miles into life, one of the killer tracks on this album. Earth, a distant spot now, the crew wrestle with the anguish of missing their loved ones back home. Shaw on lead vocals for this one. It boasts a tremendous chorus infused with heavenly harmonies.

This pain in my heart keeps growing, sometimes I feel like fool,your gravitational pull is gonna tear me apart.

The soothing tinkle of the ivories introduces Locomotive. A father, a lump in his throat as he gazes sky word. His heart aching for his son, they have grown apart. As he scans the night sky, the shining stars illuminate his regret, the pangs of guilt. Shaw’s acoustic guitar is to the fore, a counter balance to Sucherman’s thunderous drums and Philip’s jazz-laden bass.

Locomotive tell me where you are, now that you’ve become the distant star.

As the ship accelerates from earth, Radio Silence highlights the crew’s sense of isolation. Their mental strength tested and taken to the limit. It’s a rollicking ride, Cowan’s keyboards setting the scene and Shaw’s soaring vocals beautifully capturing the mood. The latter part of the song is an all-out attack on the senses with drums, bass and a flurry of guitars jockeying for pole position.

Anybody, can you hear me? SOS, it’s anyone’s guess, can we make it.

On Red Storm anxiety is gripping the crew, their deep-seated fears laid bare. Excellent vocals from Shaw and a dazzling guitar solo from Young. Sucherman batters his drum kit into submission too. The LP closes with Mission to Mars, a rousing, optimistic sign off. It gallops along, the crew’s excitement palpable:

Say goodbye to all your friends, now a whole new life begins, as universe’s mysteries unfold, and the audience back home is holding on with bated breath to hear the stories that are waiting to be told.

It is evident that rocket fuel has been added to the Styx tank. The Mission is a hugely impressive body of work. Every track oozes energy and vitality. Beautifully crafted pop ballads and big hard rock riffs burst from the speakers like stars colliding in the cosmos. The layered harmonies, the band’s signature sound through the years, remain intact. It makes for essential listening, a worthy addition to any music collection.

The band’s management company are pulling out all the stops to market the LP. Brusco said: “Styx still sells a lot of physical product. We are seeing big pre-orders of CDs and vinyl. The management company now have to deal with a lot more than they had to deal with before. When you have a record that’s as good as this record is the record itself enthuses everyone to work harder and come up with more ideas.”

Next month, Styx hit the road with rock heavyweights REO Speedwagon and Don Felder. Songs from the new LP will feature in the band’s set, according to Shaw: “We are going to start with two songs and just see how that goes and it depends on how quickly our fans and the fans of all three bands absorb this new album.

“If there is a noticeable demand for more, we will play more. When we finish playing with REO and Don Felder, we will be back to playing our own shows and probably add more new songs. I hope it wakes up fans who haven’t seen us lately and realise that the band is as vital as ever.”
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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby ChicagoSTYX » Wed May 31, 2017 1:58 am

http://progreport.com/styx-the-mission-album-review/

Styx – The Mission (Album Review)

Styx have been a classic rock staple for 40 years with hits that every rock fan knows and can hear everyday just by getting in a car. But the band have not released an album of new studio material since 2003’s Cyclorama, an album that went largely unnoticed. Since that album 14 years ago, the band have been a constant touring force and those that have seen the band live recently now that this band can still put on a tremendous show. However, as is the case with such talented musicians, the need to be creative and make new music is at the root of of why one becomes a musician in the first place. So it is no surprise the band finally decided to take the trip back to the studio. What is the surprise is how good this album is. With The Mission, Styx have taken a trip back in time to when they flirted with progressive rock and created some of the most adventurous music on FM radio.

The lineup on the album is the touring lineup from the last 14 years with bassist Ricky Phillips making his first appearance on a Styx album. All members turn in powerful performances, most notably the incredible Tommy Shaw, who’s high register vocals are as strong as ever and shows he still has the power to pull this off. James Young is solid throughout on guitar and keyboardist Lawrence Gowan has far surpassed the Dennis DeYoung comparisons, providing just enough of his own charisma as the counterpart to Shaw. The rhythm section of Phillips, original bassist, Chuck Panozzo, and outstanding drummer Todd Sucherman, help guide the proceedings with authority and precision.

No strangers to the concept album, the group decide to revisit the approach again, and it absolutely was the right decision. The story of the mission to Mars, in the hopes of a new planet to inhabit, makes for captivating material for the songs and keeps the listener engaged. It takes place in 2033 and deals with the first manned mission to Mars via Khedive, a nuclear-powered spaceship, underwritten by the Global Space Exploration Program (GSEP) with the band members taking on the characters in the story.

But in the end it comes down to the songs, and the album is full of great ones. The album opens with the “Overture” which immediately tells you this is a Styx album from the opening keyboards. This leads into the album’s first single and obvious show opener “Gone, Gone Gone”. While not the best track on the album, it does make sense in the context of the album and for sure as a live track. The next couple of songs are decent album cuts, one by Shaw and by Young, although both seem to end to soon. The next track, the brooding ballad, “Locomotive”, is a tremendous song that harkens back the band’s classic sound.

It is at this point that the album really hits another level. The album’s second single and best song, “Radio Silence” presents an element of danger as the lead character runs into some trouble and has a dialogue with mission control. The next track, another ballad “The Greater Good” is where Gowan really shines. This is another album highlight. Then for the second half of the album the band ventures into some progressive rock territory. “Time May Bend” is an intriguing song that segues into the musical interlude “Ten Thousand Ways” before reaching the album’s most progressive track, “The Red Storm.” The album closes with another great trio of songs with the instrumental “Kehdive” the anthemic “The Outpost” and the album finally “Mission to Mars.”

Some fans might not be sure what to expect, maybe hoping for more radio friendly tracks or, in the reverse, something completely out of left field. But what the band have done here is make a quintessential Styx record. From beginning to end, the album runs like a brilliant movie with great epic moments and captivating urgency. This is a fun record and an enjoyable listen throughout. Good to see the band back and let’s hope this is just the beginning

Released on June 16th, 2017

Key Tracks: Radio Silence, The Greater Good, The Red Storm

Tracklisting:

1. “Overture”
2. “Gone Gone Gone”
3. “Hundred Million Miles”
4. “Trouble at the Big Show”
5. “Locomotive”
6. “Radio Silence”
7. “The Greater Good”
8. “Time May Bend”
9. “Ten Thousand Ways”
10. “The Red Storm”
11. “All Systems Stable”
12. “Khedive”
13. “The Outpost”
14. “Mission to Mars”
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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby ChicagoSTYX » Sun Jun 04, 2017 2:28 am

http://jpsmusicblog.blogspot.com/2017/0 ... re-on.html


CD Review: Classic Rockers Styx Are On A "Mission" With Their New Album

The classic rock band Styx have been creating exciting new music for over four decades and they are preparing to release their 16th album, "The Mission" on June 16. It has been 12 years since their last studio album and in that time, they have toured the world numerous times, absorbing what the fans are looking for with new Styx music and they certainly deliver it on "The Mission."

The album begins with the signature Styx "Overture" that will certainly get the listener excited for what's to come. Tommy Shaw's guitar comes out blazing for the intense, pick-up of "Gone, Gone, Gone" as you prepare to blast off with that classic Styx harmonies. The concept of the album is space travel with songs like "One Million Miles" and "The Red Storm" you get swept up in the outstanding musicianship that Styx deliver in every piece of music they produce. If this album feels like a nostalgic trip, then you won't want to get off the ride, as songs like "Locomotive" and "The Outpost" are some of the best the band has written in decades. They finish their new album with the piano piece "Khedive" and the up-tempo swing of "Mission To Mars" to close out your journey.

Styx will be kicking off their U.S. tour on June 9th in Lincoln, NE and runs all summer long into September. For a complete list of shows and to find out more about their new album "The Mission," please visit styxworld.com.
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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby ChicagoSTYX » Sun Jun 11, 2017 3:42 am

http://tamagazine.com/music-review-mission-styx/


CD REVIEWS
Music Review: “The Mission” by Styx
By Tillman Cooper @tillman_cooper · On June 10, 2017

It is no real secret that I am a huge Styx fanatic. I have been listening to them since I was a little kid in the late 70’s and early 80’s. I’ve stuck by them through the lineup changes, solo albums and the long stretches without any new material.

Since I have been working with TAM, I have interviewed members Lawrence Gowan and Ricky Phillips, covered their live shows, and wrote a piece for TAM’s column “How I got into THAT band.” So there is a good chance that this review may be pretty biased, but I am writing it anyway, and I am damned excited to have been given the chance to do it.

A few weeks ago, I frantically loaded an advance review copy of The Mission to my iPad and cell phone so that I could take it with me to my trip to Chicago. It was only while I sat in the plane with the opening strains of “Overture” playing through my headphones that I remembered that Styx began in Chicago. The fact that I received my copy of The Mission right before my trip to Styx’s hometown is just a bit of kismet I suppose. I closed my eyes and began my journey both literally and metaphorically.

By the time we had touched down in Chicago (after being diverted for 12 hours to Detroit due to heavy crosswinds), I had listened to The Mission at least ten times. My wife just let me lose myself in the album as the stress of the trip took its toll on all of us. When things would get difficult for me to deal with, I just put my headphones back on and started the album over.

The Mission became the soundtrack to my 2017 trip to Chicago. Whenever I had some time to myself, I reached for my headphones and listened to the album again. Now, almost a month later, I have lost count of how many times I have played it. Even now, while I write this review, the song”Radio Silence” is playing, and Tommy Shaw is exclaiming…

It’s a sacred ship but step by step I’m gonna save it

Heaven knows I need my crew, but how the hell do I get through to you?

Of course, this is a review, and it’s my job to tell you if the album is any good or not. If you’ve gotten to this point of the article, then I am pretty sure that you can tell where I am going to come down on this. Yes, it’s good. It’s better than that. To me, it’s a masterpiece. But, as I wrote earlier, I am a Styx fanatic, which makes me pretty biased.

I can comfortably declare that The Mission is officially my third favorite Styx album. It falls just behind The Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight, barely knocking Paradise Theatre down to the fourth spot on my list. But, no matter where The Mission ultimately ends up on your favorites list, I can pretty confidently say that if you are a Styx fan, you are going to love this album.

At it’s core, The Mission, is a rock and roll concept album with similarities to Styx’s previous concept albums, including Kilroy was Here. The story is a science-fiction adventure that follows the journey of the spaceship, The Khedive, and its six man crew as it embarks on the first manned mission to Mars and beyond.

As the band did with Kilroy was Here, each of the three singers (Tommy Shaw, Lawrence Gowan, and James “JY” Young) take on a different roll when singing their songs. Shaw sings as both The Pilot (aka Locomotive), and The Pilot’s father; Gowan portrays The First Officer; and JY plays The Engineer.

Each character has a specific point of view and personality, and tells their part of the story in the fashion that we have come to expect from the different singers. No surprises there. The performances each fit like a well worn and beloved jacket, playing to strengths of the different singers.

The first release from The Mission is called “Gone Gone Gone,” sung by Gowan, fittingly tells the story of the The Khedive’s launch, and the crew’s excitement to get going and begin their journey.

After that, Shaw sings his first song as Locomotive, “Hundred Million Miles,” a classic Shaw-style rock song about a guy thinking about the woman he leaves behind.

JY performs his one and only solo-singing part next on “Trouble at the Big Show,” a crunchy rock number with the signature vocal and electric guitar growl his fans love him for. After that, the vocals on The Mission thread in and out between Shaw, Gowan, and feature the beloved harmonies that Styx is notorious for.

Of course, while the story and vocals are important, it is the actual music of The Mission that truly amazes me. Somehow the band has managed to capture the synth and guitar rock sound of the 70’s and mesh it seamlessly with modern age production and newer musical stylings. The result is an impressive composition that, without a point of reference, makes the songs very difficult to place in a specific time period. It captures both the futuristic and space-opera like sound needed for the story, while still sounding like it comes from The Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight era.

So, was The Mission worth waiting 14 years for? Well… hell, I think it was worth waiting over 30 years for. Now, please excuse me… The Mission has just begun again, and I want to take one more trip to Mars before I head to bed.

The Mission comes out on June 16, 2017 on the band’s label Alpha Dog 2T/UMeUniversal, and can be pre-ordered at Styxworld.com.

Be sure to catch Styx on the road this summer with Don Felder and Reo Speedwagon on “The United We Rock” tour. Tickets on sale now.
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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby gr8dane » Sun Jun 11, 2017 4:17 am

Thanks for posting those.Pretty impressive reviews.A few more days now. :D
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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby yogi » Sun Jun 11, 2017 7:09 am

How DAMN pumped am I to see the new Styx album reviewed by The Prog Report. Great review and thank you to Styx for getting back to your GREAT GREAT musical roots.

Now can my CD's and album PLEASE get here

GREAT reviews from all
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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby ChicagoSTYX » Sun Jun 11, 2017 10:19 pm

https://metalwani.com/2017/06/review-st ... ssion.html

Thanks in no small part to Hollywood, everything that was unfashionable at the tale end of the 70’s is now the height of cool. From “Guardians of The Galaxy” and “Stranger Things” old-school soundtracks to colored vinyl and satin baseball jackets, it has all come back into fashion. There couldn’t be a better time then for Styx to make a creative comeback.

Styx, the band once deemed too uncool for MTV, are back with a brand new album. Ironically, Styx are still producing new albums while MTV itself has long since given up on broadcasting actual music. Now, they are back with their first original album since 2003’s ‘Cyclorama’. That album sank almost without trace and, initially, one might have the same expectations of ‘The Mission’, not least because it is a concept album about a manned mission to Mars in the year 2033! Although its not exactly out of character for Styx (this is the band that wrote “Mr Roboto”, after all) it stills sounds worryingly like a parody of the worst excesses of vintage Prog-Rock.

The incredible thing is that through sheer inventiveness and skill the band manage, for the most part, to avoid Spinal Tap territory and actually deliver an excellent, compelling album. Although original member Dennis DeYoung is not present, the band still boasts an impressive array of talent: Tommy Shaw and James Young on Guitars & vocals, Chuck Panozzo and Ricky Phillips on bass & vocals, Lawrence Gowan on keys & vocals and Todd Sucherman on the drums.

The brief instrumental “Overture” leads nicely into opener “Gone Gone Gone” – a great, uptempo Prog/AOR blast of a song. This is followed by “Hundred Million Miles”; a superb song with the sweetest vocal harmonies and funky guitars, all polished to perfection with a production that lands just the right side of smooth.

“Trouble At The Big Show” starts off mid tempo guitar talk-back before soaring into classic Styx vocal harmonies, while Tommy Shaw’s superb playing leads us out. Its followed by prog keyboards and cosmic soul searching of “Locomotive”. While the album is certainly a welcomed return to the more progressive side of the band’s sound, none of the songs outstay their welcome – ‘The Mission’ is fairly lean at just over 43 minutes long.

One of the highlights of the album, “Radio Silence”, manages to smoothly weave the Mars concept into killer chorus. Complete with tasty acoustics and bounce in the mix, its actually hard to believe that a band 45 years into their career sound this good in the studio! From the piano led balladry of “The Greater Good” to the shining Prog of “Time May Bend” You really have to admire Styx’s commitment to their concept, both lyrically and sonically. It certainly won’t please everyone but that’s by no means a bad thing.

The album’s longest track, “The Red Storm” roves through pianos, drum breaks and guitar solos before ending with an old-school keyboard solo, along with outer space travel-log lyrics “There’s no turning back, going to make it to the mother-ship”. The spoken intro of “All Systems Stable” followed by the piano geek-out of “Khedive” does come rather too close to Sci-Fi audio-book territory, but its a forgivable misstep when its followed by the gloriously 80s joy ride that is “The Outpost” – with old-school keyboards, ripping guitars and soaring harmonies, it sounds like a tighter version of the band’s greatest hits. The album artwork is solid and will presumably be expanded into their upcoming live concept shows.

In what might just be one of the most surprising releases of 2017, Styx have not only produced an outstanding album, but one of the finest albums of their entire career, and who was expecting that? Sounding better than they ever have, Styx return with a blast and deliver the seemingly impossible; an excellent Sci-Fi AOR concept album! While the journey wont be to everyone’s tastes, AOR fans would be foolish not to strap in for a smooth ride to the red planet.
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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby ChicagoSTYX » Wed Jun 14, 2017 8:34 am

http://ink19.com/2017/06/magazine/music-reviews/styx-2

For fans still nursing a decades-long, Kilroy-induced hangover, embracing a new Styx concept record might prove a tall order. But fear not – despite any aversion to the “ambitious” space age storyline, The Mission succeeds in returning these arena rock poster boys to their golden era “A-game” form. For the most part.
Produced by longtime Styx associate, Will Evankovich, The Mission was recorded over a two-year period in various locales, including Martina McBride’s Blackbird Studios in Nashville. And it boasts highlights galore.
Packing all the punch of Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade soundtrack, “Overture” launches the record with near-“Roboto”-like intensity, but surrenders quickly to “Gone Gone Gone” and “Hundred Million Miles” – two solid slabs, both smeared with guitarist James Young’s gritty, metallic-tinged DNA.
The six-minute epic, “The Red Storm” delivers Edgar Winter-flavored riffs and oozes the band’s signature harmonies plastered across Tommy Shaw’s friendly and familiar-feeling lead vocals. Additionally, the delicate-sounding “Khedive” is a perfect vessel in which to transport Lawrence Gowan’s world-class piano prowess, while “The Outpost” navigates boldly from a futuristic synth mode into a roaring circa ’78 “Miss America”-style crescendo. And possessing a mid-’60s-era pop appeal, the record-closing “Mission to Mars” is a delightfully infectious sing-along.
But shining brightest among the set – a pair of perfect gems. “Radio Silence” is cut from the same stylistic fabric as their 1976 FM staple, “Crystal Ball” – an engaging, arena-worthy earworm, indeed. But wait, that track has an even sexier big sister – seemingly sprinkled with aural cocaine, “Locomotive” proves simply irresistible. Driven by Shaw’s honest and pure vocals and accented by a splash of “Have a Cigar”-inspired guitar swagger, “Locomotive” is not only the pick of this particular 14-pup litter, it’s one of the band’s absolute ALL-TIME best.
In sum, whether or not you’re on board for the record’s “ambitious” interplanetary tale, The Mission still stands tall as a powerful collection of rock solid songs. Hence, when band members tout the record in the press as being their best work since Pieces of Eight, you can believe the hype.
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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby ChicagoSTYX » Wed Jun 14, 2017 10:48 pm

http://www.muenmagazine.net/2017/06/the ... throwback/

On June 16th, Styx fans and classic rock fans the world over will not have to wait any longer. Styx decided that 14 years in between albums is a long enough wait as they will be releasing “The Mission” worldwide via Alpha Dog 2T/UMe! In the meantime, fans can pre-order the album at any digital retail outlet and at www.styxworld.com.
As I was thinking about the recent history of Styx, I was thinking about their “mission” voyage to NASA, where a diehard fan who happened to be an astronaut for NASA named a moon after Styx! A MOON! After all, I think when a moon is named after your band in the solar system, you have pretty much made it as a band! The cinematic thrill ride that fans longed for from “Pieces Of Eight” and “The Grand Illusion” is back! The concepts of the record include a story about the first manned trip to Mars that takes place in the year 2033. The astronaut on this manned trip goes through various trials, tribulations, and triumphs throughout this record! With “The Mission” Styx is firing on all cylinders once again!
“The Mission” starts off with a ridiculous keyboard/organ piece that is played by Lawrence Gowan, who is the current vocalist/keyboardist for Styx. The piece is called “Overture”. ”Overture” reminds me of that final countdown as it places the listener immediately on the edge of their seat, making sure that all safety harnesses are strapped in, and that countdown to the voyage to Mars is going to commence! Then, “The Mission” breaks into the first single of the album entitled “Gone Gone Gone”. ”Gone Gone Gone” is that boogie-woogie blues rock of Styx with incredible harmonies that fans old and new have grown to be incredibly fond of. It is something that Styx is a trademark for, and that is providing that seamless transition between an instrumental piece to a rock-n-roll song that continues on in the story.
“Hundred Million Miles” is that soaring chorus type of song that really tells the story of how the mission to Mars is on its way and deemed to be a success so far. There is lament in the song that the astronaut really misses his/her loved ones. It really has a sleek groove in the rhythm section and Gowan’s voice is an instrument in this track as he is able to carry a melody throughout the song. The harmonies that are laid out in the track is a stark reminder on why we fell in love with Styx in the first place! The guitars in the instrumental break are profound while providing a simple rhythm and arrangement throughout the song. ”Trouble At The Big Show” showcases the legendary tandem of Tommy Shaw and James Young on the guitars, and Ricky Phillips bass surely sticks out something fierce as the groove causes the listener to dance about in place while nodding their head.
“Locomotive” is the ballad of “The Mission”, it has the progression though that Styx is famous for, the keyboards are incredible, and the harmonies are very much Pink Floyd tinged mixed with sort of a doo-wop vibe to it. I absolutely love how the song picks up and Shaw and Young just absolutely rip on the guitars. ”Radio Silence” provides that sleek guitar part that causes the listener to sway about in place.
Overall, 14 years is a wait but it is worth the wait. It really showcases that Styx is extremely prudent about their craft, how each part is interwoven like the finest silks to a tapestry in order to present that tapestry to the Emperor of an empire. The harmonies, arrangements, progression, and the story telling is something that Styx longs for in an album. In a world of instant gratification and that “here today, gone tomorrow” mentality of the music industry, Styx has shown why they have been a band for 45 years. The palate of old fans is quenched as they have the memories and feelings of “Pieces Of Eight” and “The Grand Illusion” to fall back upon, whereas new fans will wonder what they have been missing out on their entire lives and their palates will be craving more Styx. You’ve knocked it out of the park Styx! Here is the track listing to this masterpiece known as “The Mission” below!
“The Mission” by Styx
1. ”Overture”
2. ”Gone Gone Gone”
3. ”Hundred Million Miles From Home”
4. ”Trouble At The Big Show”
5. ”Locomotive”
6. ”Radio Silence”
7. ”The Greater Good”
8. ”Time May Bend”
9. ”Ten Thousand Ways To Be Wrong”
10. ”Red Storm”
11. ”All Systems Stable”
12. ”Khedive”
13. ”The Outpost”
14. ”Mission To Mars”
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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby ChicagoSTYX » Thu Jun 15, 2017 12:49 am

http://teamrock.com/review/2017-06-14/s ... bum-review

The good news: this is not a Wayne Hussey tribute record. The even better news: this is in fact a good old-fashioned concept album, seemingly exhumed from a dusty attic by a doddery duffer for examination by a tweed-jacketed scholar on rock’s very own Antiques Roadshow. “Ah yes, this appears to have been released in 1972 on the Wooden Nickel label; I detect the unmistakable tones of John Curulewski’s guitar.” Wrong, Mr (so-called) Expert! The Mission ain’t no arthritic artefact – it’s brand spanking new and represents a colossal, and wholly unpredicted, return to form for Styx.

The Chicago pomp-rock pioneers have made their fair share of concept album faux pas in the past. Despite its immense US chart success, Paradise Theater (1981) was anything but paradisiacal, and Kilroy Was Here (1983) was, frankly, the work of madmen.

But The Mission is right up there with the very best of Styx, a remarkable achievement considering it’s 45 years since they signed their first recording contract. No wonder guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw describes it as the band’s “boldest, most emblematic album since [1978’s] Pieces Of Eight”.

Taking its cue, kind of, from the Rush opus Cygnus X-1, The Mission chronicles the trials, tribulations and ultimate triumphs of the first manned mission to Mars in the year 2033. But this is no sprawling, bloated offering: the album’s running time is a shade over 40 minutes and begins, with pleasing inevitability, with a track called Overture. From there, the various songs reflect the viewpoints of the six-person crew enlisted for the maiden voyage of the interplanetary spacecraft Khedrive.

Keysman/vocalist Lawrence Gowan lays the ghost of his predecessor Dennis DeYoung firmly to rest with a ridiculously flamboyant display, but the stars of the show are, as ever, Shaw and fellow guitarist/vocalist James ‘JY’ Young. The best bits of Styx have always been when JY’s guitar cuts through the cloying sentimentality with insensitive bludgeon – check out his wah-wah heroics on Trouble At The Big Show for proof.

Elsewhere, the serene Locomotive has hints of Styx classic Boat On The River; Khedrive is a prime time example of cosmic classicism; The Red Storm shows Styx can do meandering prog with the best of them; and Gone Gone Gone is reminiscent of a preening Deep Purple.

What more is there to say, except the serpent has risen. Again.
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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby ChicagoSTYX » Fri Jun 16, 2017 12:08 pm

http://www.heraldextra.com/entertainmen ... 3f9ef.html

With its release of "The Mission," the band's first studio album in 14 years, Styx embraces the conceptual themes of its past while boldly exploring the final frontier.

As it turns out, the album -- which sonically chronicles the as-still-yet-fictional first manned mission to Mars in the year 2033 -- is quite a trip.

The record received its genesis about two and a half years ago when guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw was fleshing out musical ideas surrounding a little guitar riff and chords he had come up with in his dressing room one night that he had recorded on his iPhone. Nobody was more surprised than Shaw when the lyrical phrase, "Now I can say in less than a day we'll be underway on our mission to Mars" was the first line that popped into his mind.

After turning it more into what would become the last song on the album, Shaw sent it to longtime collaborator Will Evankovich.

"I knew he wouldn't laugh," Shaw said in an email interview. "Not only did he not laugh, he sent me his demo of 'Locomotive.' I was blown away, and I think we both recognized that these seemed like bookends to something very interesting."

Around the same time, Shaw said, he wrote an early version of "Hundred Million Miles From Home," a song that fittingly also would become the third cut on "The Mission."

"It had verses that were not right, but the chorus and middle eight were what you hear now," Shaw said. "Verses were rewritten a couple of times before it passed muster, but now we were getting somewhere! Remember, Styx was performing 120 shows that year, and Will was performing a full schedule with The Guess Who, so this was in between road trips."

Despite the progress on their exploratory "Mission" efforts, Shaw said he and Evankovich still kept things to themselves.

"We played it for no one," Shaw said, "because, well, think about it -- 'Hey, everyone, wanna make an album about a mission to Mars?' We were determined to make it make sense, sound good and draw you in -- not make everyone question your sanity."

The songs were all new -- except for a few progressive instrumental bits in "The Red Storm" that dated back to things Shaw and Evankovich were working on five years ago.

"The music was flowing, telling us where to go next. It was so satisfying," Shaw said. "That's another reason we kept it under wraps -- so that it did not become a 'project,' under the pressure and scrutiny that naturally happens."

Shaw said that it was with great deliberation that they finally decided the time was right to "give our bandmates an opportunity to join in the fun."

"The demos were really good presentations of the ideas, but we'd been working in isolation. We had no way of telling how they'd react," Shaw said. "But I'd say they were pleasantly surprised as the demos made their way among the rest of the band."

While it may seem like a contradiction, my personal takeaway after listening to the album on a near daily basis for the past month is that it is both classic Styx and at the same time, nothing like the band has done before. It certainly hearkens back to the time period of "The Grand Illusion" (which turns 40 next month) and "Pieces of Eight," with their stellar harmonies, grand concepts and rocking vibe, but "The Mission" literally launches the band into previously uncharted territory.

You know how when a band has a first real breakthrough album, and their next record semi-duplicates the recipe for the initial success with a similar style and range of songs? Well, I find no such frame of reference in "The Mission." Musically, this record stands alone in the Styx canon.

"It's been a long time since we wrote the music for those earlier albums," Shaw said of "The Grand Illusion" and "Pieces of Eight," "but certain things are timeless, like people in their everyday pursuits, wherever they are. So, initially, it seemed like songs about a manned mission to Mars might seem cold and technical. But it's the human story that's always been at the core of Styx music. Fleshing out the lyrics to 'Locomotive' was that revelation and made me remember that this is something Styx is good at. So while the songs are definitely unique, exploring life's challenges to the human spirit is as Stygian as ever. And when you join our voices in the choruses, we can't help but be who we are."

Keyboardist Lawrence Gowan was the next to get fully involved. He replaced the demo keyboard tracks with the vintage synths that he envisioned.

"He jumped deeply into the writing process immediately," said Shaw, "taking a rough framework of 'The Greater Good' and turning it into the elegant song you hear on the album. We were so inspired, we all agreed to try a little nod to Queen in the middle eight with the big baritone, 'We will be saved!' And it was a keeper! That led to the guitar solo. The opening Lawrence Gowan first verse vocal was sung that day, and it is the one you hear on the album. His first take.

"It was so exciting to feel the support and enthusiasm of the rest of the band. The ideas started to flow and it remained that way all the way through completion. Some rumors got out, but all we had to do was say, 'Have you seen our tour schedule? Where's the time to make a new album?' End of discussion."

While rumors of the band working on new material did pop up occasionally over the past couple years -- something that was even vaguely confirmed with no timetable by members -- no one foresaw a full concept album, and certainly not one based on a space exploration theme, coming from the band. The official preview announcement on April 21, pretty much took everyone by surprise.

Even before the album's release, a small minority of disenfranchised fans have pointed to the irony of a full concept record by today's lineup considering the drama and ensuing first breakup of the original band following the release and perceived failings of the futuristic album "Kilroy Was Here" in 1983.

Addressing that, Shaw said he can't let what naysayers might say affect him.

"If you're fortunate enough to be given the gift of new music (and) new ideas -- run with it, see where it takes you," he said. "There's real joy there."

The timing of "The Mission" seems fortuitous, what with it being the 40th anniversary year of "The Grand Illusion" and also the 2012 discovery of a fifth moon orbiting Pluto -- which was actually named Styx. (And, yes, the moon Styx does play into the new album's plot line.)

Clocking in at just over 42 minutes, the album's 14 songs flow seamlessly together -- with some of the tunes serving as transitional bridges to aurally further the narrative. (There are also preview text vignettes in the CD liner notes to add further story illumination.) The band wastes no time getting into the business at hand of each song, with eight of the compositions registering less than three minutes in length. Glorious prog-rocker "The Red Storm" is the longest song at 6:04.

I would highly suggest that all first listens -- and several subsequent ones -- be done in proper sequence and in one complete sitting -- with headphones, if available. It's definitely an undertaking worth planning an evening without interruptions around.

Another observation: While the album was conceived to be an entire experience, the songs themselves are compelling enough to stand on their own, listen after listen.

With the album set to drop in less that 24 hours, it seems apropos to revisit the project's very first lyric:

"Now I can say in less than a day we'll be underway on our mission to Mars."

Song-by-song capsule review of "The Mission."
"Overture": Ironically, this 1-minute, 23-second scene-setter should be the piece of music most readily recognizable by Styx fans. The band has slyly been using it as its walk-on music in concert for almost two years, including its single vocoder line: "Calling out to the universe, for the future of Mother Earth."

"Gone, Gone, Gone": Built around an incendiary guitar riff by James "JY" Young, this lead single symbolizes liftoff into the journey ahead. It is a natural show-opener, and since its release it has been kicking off Styx's live shows. It's also a great Gowan vocal vehicle.

Favorite lyric: "Slingshot to outer space, here comes the human race, we want it. No one has ever flown, into the great unknown, we need it."

"Hundred Million Miles From Home": Sporting a vintage bass foundation by original bassist Chuck Panozzo and extremely catchy guitars and keyboards, this song chronicles the thoughts of the pilot, who while excited about the prospects of the mission ahead, still can't help but think of the girl he left behind. The stellar talkbox guitar solo was the last overdub on the album.

Favorite lyric: "Now there's nothing like starlight glowing and this pain in my heart keeps growing, sometimes I feel like a fool, your gravitational pull is gonna tear me apart."

"Trouble at the Big Show": As soon as one hears the opening guitar riff, it becomes immediately obvious that we are in vintage JY territory. Sure enough, Young's vocals deliver their intended swagger on this rocking song. Sung from the perspective of the crew's engineer, who discovers a few flaws in the programming and design of the ship, and must figure out a way to fix or compensate for them.

Favorite lyric: "Today the truth won't set you free, with broke-down technology, getting high but feeling low, we got trouble at the big show."

"Locomotive": There's no getting around it -- with its intricate acoustic guitar, haunting vocals, pace changes, killer guitar solo and emotional propelling of the story at hand, this is undoubtedly one of the real standout tracks on the album, and perhaps in all Styxdom. A definite grower, it took me numerous listens before I could begin to appreciate its full depth. The opening drone of an organ note gives way to Shaw's pristine acoustic guitar and vocals for the first verse. The second verse introduces a genuinely funky Ricky Phillips bass foundation that forces itself to the forefront. Shaw delivers an emotive guitar solo that truly inspires -- not in a flashy way, but instead providing an emotional connection that takes you on a journey without a preponderance of notes. Be sure to read the liner notes intro to this song for added insight into its point of view.

Favorite lyric: "And when the road calls your name, doesn't matter what's to gain, it's in your blood."

"Radio Silence": I could write an entire review based around the things I love about this song. Whenever I only have time to listen to a couple songs, I nearly always gravitate toward "Locomotive" and "Radio Silence" in tandem. Another song that features early verses of haunting acoustic guitar and Shaw vocals before reaching a crescendo of Styx bombast. If you can refrain from singing the chorus at full vocal power while listening to this in your car, you have way more willpower than I (or a worse ability to carry a tune, which may or may not be possible). The song features a brief scorching guitar interlude and nasty pick slide that is, once again, classic JY. Shaw culminates the guitar solo with a scream so full-throated one has to wonder if he might have sacrificed a portion of a lung on the studio room floor just to record it. Great lyrics throughout this one, and I enjoy the hint of his Southern accent when Shaw sings "retrorockets 'fired'." The song -- which ramps down with a closing vocal a cappella line -- perfectly wraps up Side I on the vinyl format.

Favorite lyric: "Hypergolic fumes, hyperbolic tunes, it's a symphony of fear -- but I'm still here."

"The Greater Good": Opening with piano, and Gowan vocals, this song gradually builds in a pep-talk back-and-forth conversation between the first officer and the pilot, Locomotive. The aforementioned nod to Queen sets the stage for a solid guitar solo.

Favorite lyric: "You could lay down in the hole you dug, just fade away into the red sand. But we all know, it's not who you are, you've come too far to be stranded on this star."

"Time May Bend": An uptempo rocker that gives Gowan another chance to shine on vocals. A cool tune.

Favorite lyric: "Some live their dreams, some push them away, but we made it here, tempting our fate. Time may bend, but not enough for me."

"Ten Thousand Ways to Be Wrong": A dreamy 1-minute, 22-second bridge between songs. Shaw, calling it, "Literally the calm before the storm," specifically mentioned this as one of his favorite parts on the album as it sets the stage for "The Red Storm."

"The Red Storm": Another song likely to leave its mark on fans, it's destined to be remembered as the album's most progressive entry. It's got a building grind to it and features a massive drum fill by Todd Sucherman -- who is brilliant throughout the record -- right before a highlight-reel guitar solo that appears to feature Young opening things up before giving way to Shaw. Some great vocals as well. Several times I've woken up in the middle of the night and found myself immediately mentally locked in on the reverberations of "oh, the red storm, is closing in" from the song's chorus. The lack of a quick return to sleep is a small price to pay for the sheer enjoyment of that vocal.

Favorite lyric: "Storm is closing in, I can feel the grinding wind, the panic has calmed me now."

"All Systems Stable": Another transitory segment, lasting only 17 seconds and featuring one spoken line.

"Khedive": A frenzied piano showcase for Gowan, this (mostly) instrumental is another piece that fans of the band should recognize. Gowan has been featuring it during his solo keyboard romps in concert for the past year or so, without anyone knowing what it was. In terms of the story, "Khedive" is the name of the crew's nuclear-powered interplanetary spacecraft. To my ears, the dual guitar solo also sounds regally Queen-esque.

"The Outpost": Another extremely enjoyable song, with lead vocals by Gowan. The chorus on this one reeks of bombast and exudes near-pure joy. I could see this becoming a third single release. It would seem to be a big hit in concert as well -- if the band can ever find a way to fit it into the setlist.

Favorite lyric: "When the stars are falling, we can hear them calling, and we won't stop searching, no we won't stop moving."

"Mission to Mars": A trippy, Beatles-esque ode to the overall mission, basically a callback to the story's origins. An especially interesting listen in light of Shaw's revelation that his messing around with a riff in the dressing room one night eventually turned not only into this song, but an entire concept album.

Favorite lyric: What else? "Now I can say in less than a day we'll be underway on our mission to Mars."
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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby ChicagoSTYX » Sat Jun 17, 2017 11:22 pm

http://popdose.com/album-review-styx-the-mission/

You have to use a specific formula when you review a Styx album. Admittedly, critics haven’t always done so, nor have they needed to for a while. The last album of all new material, Cyclorama, came out in 2003. Between then and now, the band has released one album of cover songs, a series of EPs where the band covered themselves, and several tours. That Styx was able to finally make an album of new material is to be applauded. Many artists of their vintage don’t see the value proposition of making anything new, particularly when the next tour comes around and all anyone asks for is “Come Sail Away.”
Because of this extraordinary step, it is justified to give the band’s latest, The Mission, as fair a hearing as possible. Not that such should ever be doubted, but the band will forever have to deal with Kilroy Was Here as part of their legacy; an album that, even on the level of kitsch and novelty, withers under scrutiny. Thus, that specific formula has to be applied.

You can only measure Styx albums against other Styx albums.

Styx never has and never will produce something on the level of “All Along The Watchtower.” You might measure “Come Sail Away” against “Stairway To Heaven” on the basis of audacity, but even so, the former comes off as extremely broad when benchmarked against the latter. You can’t even really measure Styx songs against “Don’t Stop Believin’,” or “High Enough,” even though Tommy Shaw was/is a member of both Styx and Damn Yankees.

But if you match Pieces Of Eight against Edge Of The Century, or Paradise Theatre against Brave New World, you can make it work. Why is this necessary? Because, in order to sound like a proper Styx song, you need to balance three opposing personalities. First you need bombast and theatricality, as embodied by former bandmate Dennis DeYoung, whose stamp on the group is so indelible that, even after his departure, he still is regarded as the “voice of Styx.” Then you have a sort of “meat ‘n potatoes” version of rock, as personified by Tommy Shaw. Finally, you have James Young. Even though he’s never verbalized it, to our knowledge, Young always comes across as a guy who would have loved to have been a classic “rock weirdo” in the mold of an Alice Cooper, KISS, or even Marc Bolan. He straddles the fence between the other two band personalities in this way, and because he has acted as this unifying force, has needed to tamp down that freak flag that always feels just slightly out of frame.

So there you have it. It is hard for Styx albums to compete with other bands because there’s so much competition within its own ranks. You get either cohesion or breakdown when one of these forces shouts down another. But, you might interrupt: DeYoung is not in the band anymore. Isn’t this pattern broken? Not necessarily. Even though he’s been with the group for fourteen years, Lawrence Gowan is stuck with the unenviable position of not only being “the new guy” but of replacing an outsized musical presence such as is DeYoung’s. He has to bring drama without bring “the drama” or it just won’t sound like the band (a malady that took down Cyclorama at the knees).

That’s quite a preamble. Is The Mission worth the effort? Popdose’s Ted Asregadoo and Dw. Dunphy dare to compare.

Dw: As the opening suggests, you can’t measure Styx albums against, say, Journey albums, or Kansas albums, or U2 albums, or whatever. You have to see how they fit into the very specific thing they do and, by and large, The Mission is successful under those conditions. It sounds good, it sounds like the band you remember from the late 1970s, much more than what the band would become in the ‘80s.

Lyrics are still a sore spot with Styx, no matter who is writing. There’s no room for subtlety with them. If they’re singing about a mission to Mars, that’s not a metaphor. They’re going on a mission to Mars. This is particularly true with the song “Gone, Gone, Gone” which opens up the record proper (after “Overture”) which uses a lot of gung-ho, psyche-up language.

The song “Khedive” is mostly an instrumental, and the playing on it is pretty extraordinary. I was hoping that it would build into a massive crescendo of some sort, but it doesn’t quite pay off. The band sings “khedive!” at the end, which is the name of the ship on this mission to Mars. (Apparently, it means: “The title of the monarch of Egypt in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, nominally a viceroy of the Sultan of Turkey.”).

So up to this point, I’ve sounded fairly negative. What I want to put across is that while there are a lot of imperfections throughout The Mission, it is still very enjoyable. It feels, in terms of narrative, like Styx were taking a cue from Queen’s soundtrack to the Flash Gordon movie. Plus, there are two really good songs on here…good enough that they can fit seamlessly into the live repertoire, I think. “Locomotive” and “Radio Silence” really stand well on their own but are not — and this is important — singles. If people buy this record looking for a new “Come Sail Away,” “Renegade,” “The Best Of Times,” “Don’t Let It End,” or even “Show Me The Way,” they’re going to be disappointed.

You need to get to this album with low expectations, and afterward, you’ll be positively surprised. If you actually are expecting The Grand Illusion, Pieces Of Eight, or Paradise Theatre, you could be let down. But it’s definitely not Kilroy or Brave New World, that’s for sure.

Ted: I think you’re absolutely correct in your view that this is not a singles-driven Styx album. The Mission certainly hearkens back to their pre-Cornerstone or Paradise Theatre era when the band was writing songs that weren’t laced with backward looking romanticism. This is certainly a forward looking concept album, but you can’t have a mission to Mars without humans taking their cultural conditioning with them. That certainly comes out in the lyrics. There’s kind Star Trek quality to the lyrics that make me think Gene Roddenberry would be happy with the whole “wagon train to the stars” vibe. The sense of adventure, swagger, wonderment, and moments of longing are the stuff of Captain Kirk and the crew — but Styx handles it without the campiness.

Personally, I love how “Overture” sets the tone with a classic Styx sound that’s both ethereal and melodic — and then kicked it into high gear with “Gone, Gone, Gone.” The latter song really rocks, has great Styx harmonies, and J.Y. Young’s playing is just flat out great. “Hundred Million Miles” is one of those mid-tempo numbers that’s a nice transition song to push deeper into the journey. It’s not proggy in feel (as the songs later in the album are), but it seems the band keeps with a standard song structure so the transitions from song to song aren’t as jarring.

As a musician Dw, I’m curious to know your thoughts on the music on the record. I’m just a music fan, but you actually compose music. From my view, I think the band is both playing at a level I haven’t heard in a long time, and the music itself is just solid. How ‘bout you?

Dw: One of the best parts about the album is that they’re doing it as a rock band. The thing that sinks a concept album or a rock opera the quickest is when songwriters think they’re librettists. That’s when you wind up with singers, belting at the top of their lungs, “I’m so sad!” Then you’re really in trouble.

That said, I think the band left some money on the table.

I’m sure they’re gun-shy and don’t want to cross into Kilroy territory, but I felt like this story needed a couple more songs. Usually I’m asking for fewer, so it comes as a surprise to me. But I would have loved to hear a song that voices regret about leaving earth, something more personal and individual-driven. Like a voice of resentment that previous generations screwed things up so badly that such a mission was a necessity in the first place. That would have been a prime spot for J.Y. to rant and rave.

Or, perhaps, the child or other family member that harbors resentment that a parent is taking off and leaving them behind. Surely some people are going to be left behind while this “wagon train to the stars” does its duty.

Speaking of which, I’m reminded that Styx once did a song called “Why Me?” It would have been a fun turn to have a song called “Why You?” which voiced the frustration of those who were rejected from taking the mission. But maybe these could have flirted with Kilroy’s cheesiness, so perhaps it’s for the best that no such things are here.

Ted: If there’s glaring flaw in the record, it’s the last song “Mission to Mars.” For all the build up in the story, the conclusion fell flat. The song itself sounds a bit like a tack-on and lyrically it doesn’t do much to conclude anything. So, while I really enjoyed the journey Styx took me on, the end of the ride seemed like a bit of a letdown. From “Time May Bend” (which has many proggy elements),“Ten Thousand Ways,” “The Red Storm,” the rolling keyboards of “Khedive” and even the soaring quality of “The Outpost” it all seems to work as part of the narrative. But once “Mission to Mars” comes on, I was kind of scratching my head and wondering, “That’s it?”

Dw.: Yes, “Mission To Mars” is a toothless coda. It feels hollow; a big, “Yay, we made it!” but for what value? As the opening section to, perhaps, a reprise of “The Greater Good,” now with more of a positive sentiment behind it, perhaps that would have made a more satisfying end. I think that would have upped the progressive feel to the whole thing a notch.

But I don’t want to linger too much on where the record falls down. It could have been much stronger, in my opinion, but it also could have been magnitudes weaker. When the album works, it works very well, and I think Styx is to be commended for all of those moments. For as fractious a group as they’ve been over time, and for the long period where they did not have new material, no one could predict they’d come up with something that hits more than it misses than this album.

Ted: During their heyday, Styx seemed more like a corporation than a band. From their VH1 “Behind the Music” episode, Tommy Shaw wasn’t masking how disillusioned he was when the band moved away from their progressive and hard rock roots to a hits driven band. And yeah, it’s easy to rag on Dennis DeYoung, but he did write most of their most memorable songs. But Shaw, J.Y., and even the Panozzo brothers were much more committed to Album Oriented Rock than Contemporary Hit Radio, so for this current incarnation of the band to go back to the 1975-1978 sound as a conscious decision was a smart move. At this stage of their career, Styx doesn’t need another ballad with the word “paradise” in it. They started as a rock band whose sound intersected with progressive rock — but was much more melodic — and that’s where their roots are.

On The Mission they really do get back to their roots in a way that’s not campy, ironic, or ham-handed. Given that the group’s last record of original songs was in 2003, it was a gamble to attempt something like this. They took their time (something like two years) and the songs are, for the most part, squarely in the best of the hard rock tradition. Credit goes to both Tommy Shaw and Will Evankovich who had the vision (and the songs) to make The Mission a satisfying return for Styx as songwriters, players, and a band. And on the production side, I’m very grateful they also created a sonic treat for music fans. In other words, the record sounds great!
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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby ChicagoSTYX » Sat Jun 17, 2017 11:52 pm

https://drewsreview.wordpress.com/2017/ ... e-mission/

Styx dives into its past with The Mission (out June 16) the band’s 16th studio album, it’s first in 14 years and a return to form as they invite the listener on a journey to Mars through this concept effort the classic rockers spent two years writing and recording.

Styx is no stranger to concept albums finding smash hits in the 1980s with Paradise Theater and Kilroy Was Here. So, The Mission hardly qualifies as ground-breaking since it’s not the first time Styx or any band for that matter embarked on a journey to a faraway place and put it to music. Ambitious, though, it is.

It’s hard enough to write an album filled with tracks mostly separate from one another. Try writing an album of songs with one leading into the other creating a storybook with the music as narrator. The Mission which chronicles the first manned mission to Mars in the year 2033 probably won’t produce any singles or get much radio play. OK, who are we kidding, don’t expect any of the songs to air on traditional radio. And the new album probably won’t generate new fans but certainly those who moved on from The Grand Illusion and Paradise Theatre or perhaps simply forgot about the band might return to the fold.

The Mission begins with “Overture” and moves froward from blast off on the rocking “Gone Gone Gone” as each song develops the story of leaving earth on a trip to Mars like the adventure getting there with the vintage “Radio Silence,” trials faced on the rhythmic “Red Storm” and finally ending with the quirky “Mission to Mars.” It’s a fun album and quite creative when you think about it. “The Outpost” surely stands out, keeps that familiar Styx sound but feels new with a bit of modern rock flare, “Time May Bend” offers solid guitar work while the dreamy “Locomotive” meanders a bit and “Hundred Million Miles From Home” features classic Styx melodies.

The album comes in around 42 minutes with 14 songs though “All Systems Stable” is a mere 18 seconds, “Overture” and “10 Thousands Ways” come in less than 90 seconds and the cool piano heavy “Khedive” is around two minutes as these shorter songs serve either as setups for the longer tracks or perhaps “intermission” between acts. The Mission certainly feels theatrical and as the closing song “Mission to Mars” comes to life you can almost see cast and crew singing together on stage towards a final climatic ending.

Overall, The Mission definitely sounds like Styx and in many ways picks up where the band left off before the break-up that ended their headlining arena days. It’s got lots of 70’s guitar, 80’s synths and the classic Styx harmonies with lead singer and keyboardist Lawrence Gowen and lead guitarist and singer Tommy Shaw trading on main vocals along with driving classic rock guitar chords, fully heard bass and strong supporting keyboards.

Styx consists of Shaw, Gowen, original guitarist James “J.Y” Young, original bassist Chuck Panozzo, drummer Todd Sucherman and bassist Ricky Phillips representing the longest running line-up in the band’s 45 year history. But it’s the first album of original material featuring the current members as Phillips came aboard after 2003’s Cyclorama but played on the covers album Big Bang Theory in 2005.

“Hundred Million Miles From Home,” “Radio Silence” and “The Outpost” probably comprise the handful of songs that manage to standout as individual efforts. But with the resurgence of vinyl that’s not a bad thing. You want nostalgia? Then open the record jacket. Indeed, The Mission fully involves the listener, requiring set-aside time to follow the band’s adventure from beginning to end. Even better? Surely, it’s an album destined for the live show something Shaw mentioned he’d like to play in its entirety.

At the very least, for those who’ve seen the band anytime in the past 10 years, hopefully The Mission means a new stage show but certainly guarantees a variety in the setlist instead of the same old fare along with the exact same in-between-song conversations.

Grade: B

Styx – The Mission Track Listing

Overture
Gone Gone Gone
Hundred Million Miles From Home
Trouble At The Big Show
Locomotive
Radio Silence
The Greater Good
Time May Bend
Ten Thousand Ways
Red Storm
All Systems Stable
Khedive
The Outpost
Mission To Mars

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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby ChicagoSTYX » Sun Jun 18, 2017 12:54 pm

https://demonszone.com/albums/styx/the-mission/

I would never have thought that in 2017 I would be praising a new concept album from the ’70s rock band Styx. The band have been out of the studio for so long that I never would have expected this album in a million years. But here it is and it is a solid piece of progressive rock that will appease fans of old.

The Mission opens with a very progressive rock sounding Overture that very smoothly moves into Gone Gone Gone. This song is a great up beat rock number, something that has been sorely lacking in the Styx catalogue since the awful Kilroy Was Here album. The song features some stunning guitar play, powerful lead and some backing vocals that in noway could be mistaken for anyone other than Styx. The third song on the album, Hundred Million Miles From Home sounds a little Pink Floyd, if Pink Floyd had the balls to write a catchy rock n roll number. That similar ‘prog’ style features through out Trouble At The Show but no matter how many little jazz fills or complex rhythms they squeeze into the song, it still sounds like Styx and that is going to keep fans very happy. Though I admittedly would have preferred to have heard a little bit more of the tasty guitar solo that faded out at the end.

Locomotive is an interesting song with a strong sense of melody and a very sombre tone. There are no bombastic solos or shrieking vocal harmonies here, just a well written composition and some nice atmosphere. It definitely resembles Styx from their first four albums and as a fan of those albums, I am not complaining. That all goes out the window with Radio Silence which sounds like a typical Tommy Shaw song. It has a big chord progression and some soaring vocals from Shaw. Nothing particularly new here but still a strong song regardless. Time May Bend is not the most memorable song on the album but it transitions into the interlude Ten Thousand Ways which acts as an intro to the six minute epic Red Storm. This track is possibly the most experimental of the lot. It has some complex beats, lovely acoustic melodies and some fine heavy rock guitar on the second half of the song. This is easily the best song Styx has released since their heyday in my opinion.

The last portion of the album starts with a nice classical piano interlude Khedive. This track features some very impressive piano playing and some guitar work which is very reminiscent of Queen’s Brian May. The song immediately jumps into The Outpost, a synthesiser driven rock song that reminds you that this IS Styx you are listening to. It has all the traits from the band’s late ’70s rockers and is a charming but short number. The Mission finished with the up lifting and bouncy, Mission To Mars. A nice short and charming song that rounds off the album with a suitable end.

Looking at The Mission as a whole, this is the Styx I wish we’ve had since the band ousted Dennis DeYoung. Not only does the band sound energetic but they sound more creative now than they did in the early ’80s. There are plenty of moments for the guitar enthusiast as JY and Shaw still know how to wail and the drums provided by Todd Sucherman are really second to none. This guy knows how to beat the life out of his drums whilst providing excellent intricate fills and beats. He brings a lot to the back bone of Styx, as does Lawrence Gowan for that matter. This guy is an incredible singer and with a performance like this, Styx fans won’t be missing a certain ex-member for much longer.

The Mission is not going to provide the band with any new hits. This is not the corny pop rock band that brought you Babe and Lady. Instead this will surprise a lot of people considering it sounds like the band drew a lot from their criminally underappreciated Wooden Nickel period. There is a heavy emphasis on making the songs flow from one to the other like it was one big medley. The record needs to be taken as a whole and only then will you get the best of it. Styx are back, they sound incredible and hopefully we don’t have to wait the torturous 12 years for a follow up.
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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby ChicagoSTYX » Sun Jun 18, 2017 12:56 pm

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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby ChicagoSTYX » Sun Jun 18, 2017 1:01 pm

http://www.vintagerock.com/index.php?op ... &Itemid=38


The Mission
Styx



It’s been nearly a decade and a half since we had an all-new studio album from Styx. The Mission, an honest-to-goodness ‘concept’ album, is their sixteenth. Recorded over a two-year period at various studios — Styx is a hard working live band after all, and it took time to get into studios and complete a long-form work — original Styx members guitarist and vocalist James “JY” Young and bassist Chuck Panozzo are on board here, as are guitarist and vocalist Tommy Shaw (who co-wrote the storyline with his longtime collaborator Will Evankovich), keyboardist and vocalist Lawrence Gowan, drummer Todd Sucherman and bassist Ricky Phillips.

The story involves an imagined first-manned mission to Mars, undertaken in the year 2033 with the spaceship Khedive leading the way. We as much learn about the ship’s crew members across these 14 songs as we do the Global Space Exploration Program, which the nuclear-powered interplanetary Khedive is part of. “Overture” begins the journey with its heavy key and guitar riffing, and Todd Sucherman blasting through the grandiosity with his blistering drums rolls. We even get a Mr. Roboto-like voice near the tune’s end, calling all to join in “the future of Mother Earth.”

“Gone Gone Gone” follows, a heavy rockin, organ-thrumming tune, showcasing one of Styx’s big strengths — their amazing harmonies. Unfortunately, this is a prime example of the band attempting to kill two-birds-with-one lyric, telling the story of the Khedive as well as trying to present some sort of obvious concert opening number. It’s loaded with a ‘welcome to the show’ kind of sensibility.

“Trouble at the Big Show” features more harmonies on the chorus, plus JY’s dirty lead playing and low sardonic vocal carrying the verses. Like many of the tunes here, the Styx boys are in and out real quick with this one. They know enough never to let a tune stay too long where it overstays its welcome. “Locomotive” is a Tommy Shaw acoustic guitar-based ballad that pops along with lead bass and Sucherman’s tight snare delivery. This is the first great song on The Mission. The lyric works on all levels and the band keeps the layering of instruments and vocals well-studied to create a thick tapestry.

Songs like “Radio Silence” — by its very title you can tell what it’s about, given the context here — features wailing guitars and those harmony vocals. “Ten Thousand Ways to Be Wrong” is built with strings and layered vocals, functioning as an intro to “The Red Storm,” with its fast acoustic picking, Sucherman’s best maneuvering and piano plucking. Shaw masterfully tells the tale on this one where the lyric does indeed serve both masters. This is Styx at their best, reminding one of the band’s best Grand Illusion moments.

Gowan gets a piano keys workout (with strings backing) on the classically inspired “Khedive,” while “The Outpost” is another multi-layered vocal rocker (Sucherman really is the linchpin to making Styx rock these days) and “Mission To Mars” ends the whole concoction. This is an all-high rock performance from a classic American rock band who really have never sounded better. The concept here hinders Styx a little too leadenly, but for sheer musicality and the mix of high harmonies (and the fact that we haven’t heard something new from this band for so long), The Mission is a strong, solid effort.

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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby ChicagoSTYX » Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:54 am

http://www.swtimes.com/entertainmentlif ... st-release


Styx wants to ‘take’ fans to Mars with latest release

By Scott Smith / Times Record / ssmith@swtimes.com
Posted at 12:01 AM
Few rock bands hit the touring pavement as often as Styx.

Comprised of singer-guitarist Tommy Shaw, keyboardist-singer Lawrence Gowan, guitarist-singer James “JY” Young, drummer Todd Sucherman and bassists Ricky Phillips and Chuck Panozzo, Styx plays more than 150 concerts a year, and they’ve done that both as an evening’s only performer and as a part of multi-band package tours since Gowan was hired to replace Dennis DeYoung, Styx’s original keyboardist-singer, back in the latter half of 1999.

How the Chicago-born band was able to muster the energy and time to come up with “The Mission,” Styx’s first studio album since 2003, is a bit of a head-scratcher. For Styx fans, the wait between 2003′s “Cyclorama” album and Styx’s 15th studio long-player wasn’t endured in vain.

The term “concept album” thrills some listeners while it terrifies others into a shelter-seeking retreat. “The Mission,” to the delight of Styx’s followers, possesses more strengths and charm than weaknesses. “Gone Gone Gone” kicks the proceedings off in a solid, uptempo way, with Gowan’s verbal encouragement to “light it up, get this show on the road” riding tall and proud over Sucherman’s commanding snare-drum pops and the group’s punchy guitar chords.

No doubt listening to the creative voices in their heads — and probably some of the critics who allege Styx plays it safe by touring so much and releasing so few new songs — the members of Styx really do stretch out on “The Mission.” Trying new things throughout “The Mission” surely will pay off in the minds of Styx’s fan base.

Among these aural excursions away from rock’s beaten path are the feisty, lead-guitar-style bass runs (from either Phillips or Pannozo; the CD liner notes don’t say) on “Locomotive.” Spiky but never thin-sounding, the gliding bass patterns are played high on the bass neck, an area that is near the instrument’s pickups. Think of the cool four-string tones laid down before by Chris Squire, Geddy Lee and John Entwistle and you’ll get the picture.

“Locomotive” also benefits tremendously by its galloping rhythms and Gowan’s simple-yet-immaculate playing on what sounds identical to a Hammond B-3 organ. It’s one of the album’s numerous shining examples of ensemble playing at its absolute finest.

Not to be outdone but also not succumbing to needless showboating, Shaw and Young turn in some of their most impressive lead-guitar work in ages. The duo isn’t afraid to slow down their finger work here and there to let some of the guitar-solo notes breathe without fear of being overcrowded. The sustained notes often last for several seconds and convey more soul and emotion that what often is found inside run-of-the-mill guitar shredding.

Sure, “The Mission” doesn’t topple Styx’s most popular albums like “The Grand Illusion” and “Pieces of Eight,” but most of the new songs aren’t completely out of the orbit of Styx’s classic-rock staples like “Come Sail Away” and “Renegade.” The first spin of “The Mission” is an interesting affair for the listener, but there’s a lot to grasp onto, and that’s a good thing. By the third spin of “The Mission,” well, that is when all of the luring melodies are revealed. It’s at that moment when the listener will fully realize just how great the guys in Styx are playing and singing these days.

Grade: B+
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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby ChicagoSTYX » Tue Jun 20, 2017 12:14 am

http://backstageaxxess.com/2017/06/styx-the-mission/

After 14 years, the rock world finally gets to experience lift off as Styx releases their 16th studio album, “The Mission,” a brand new concept album themed around the first manned expedition to Mars. The record is a blast from the past with some real old school Styx while solidly pushing forward and expanding their sound.

“The Mission” has fantastic arrangements with proggy keyboard runs, rocking guitars, and beautiful vocal harmonies. It seems that time and space have stood still as vocally Tommy Shaw and Lawrence Gowan have never sounded better than they do here.

Kicking things off “Paradise Theatre” style with the intro track “Overture” which launches into the full blown force of “Gone, Gone,Gone” as the mission begins. There is a vibe here that truly harkens back to the “Pieces of Eight” era Styx but yet never feels dated. Working with long time collaborator Will Evankovich , Shaw proves his songwriting talent as he pulls out a true “album” something that needs to be listened to start to finish, a rarity in today’s tweet based world of blips and blogs. Musically the band is simply superb seamlessly flowing together as they journey through each song. If there ever was any doubt of the immensity of the
talent in this band , just listen to one of the instrumental tracks “The Red Storm” or “Khedive” with stunning piano work by Gowan and intricate guitars from both Shaw and James “JY” Young. The album closes strongly with “The Outpost” and “Mission To
Mars” as the team finally reaches their ultimate destination.

“The Mission” is quite simply a musical masterpiece . Kudos to Styx for putting out a record this bold and this brilliant after 45 years.
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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby ChicagoSTYX » Tue Jun 20, 2017 11:15 pm

http://vintagerock.com/index.php?option ... &Itemid=38

The Mission
Styx



It’s been nearly a decade and a half since we had an all-new studio album from Styx. The Mission, an honest-to-goodness ‘concept’ album, is their sixteenth. Recorded over a two-year period at various studios — Styx is a hard working live band after all, and it took time to get into studios and complete a long-form work — original Styx members guitarist and vocalist James “JY” Young and bassist Chuck Panozzo are on board here, as are guitarist and vocalist Tommy Shaw (who co-wrote the storyline with his longtime collaborator Will Evankovich), keyboardist and vocalist Lawrence Gowan, drummer Todd Sucherman and bassist Ricky Phillips.

The story involves an imagined first-manned mission to Mars, undertaken in the year 2033 with the spaceship Khedive leading the way. We as much learn about the ship’s crew members across these 14 songs as we do the Global Space Exploration Program, which the nuclear-powered interplanetary Khedive is part of. “Overture” begins the journey with its heavy key and guitar riffing, and Todd Sucherman blasting through the grandiosity with his blistering drums rolls. We even get a Mr. Roboto-like voice near the tune’s end, calling all to join in “the future of Mother Earth.”

“Gone Gone Gone” follows, a heavy rockin, organ-thrumming tune, showcasing one of Styx’s big strengths — their amazing harmonies. Unfortunately, this is a prime example of the band attempting to kill two-birds-with-one lyric, telling the story of the Khedive as well as trying to present some sort of obvious concert opening number. It’s loaded with a ‘welcome to the show’ kind of sensibility.

“Trouble at the Big Show” features more harmonies on the chorus, plus JY’s dirty lead playing and low sardonic vocal carrying the verses. Like many of the tunes here, the Styx boys are in and out real quick with this one. They know enough never to let a tune stay too long where it overstays its welcome. “Locomotive” is a Tommy Shaw acoustic guitar-based ballad that pops along with lead bass and Sucherman’s tight snare delivery. This is the first great song on The Mission. The lyric works on all levels and the band keeps the layering of instruments and vocals well-studied to create a thick tapestry.

Songs like “Radio Silence” — by its very title you can tell what it’s about, given the context here — features wailing guitars and those harmony vocals. “Ten Thousand Ways to Be Wrong” is built with strings and layered vocals, functioning as an intro to “The Red Storm,” with its fast acoustic picking, Sucherman’s best maneuvering and piano plucking. Shaw masterfully tells the tale on this one where the lyric does indeed serve both masters. This is Styx at their best, reminding one of the band’s best Grand Illusion moments.

Gowan gets a piano keys workout (with strings backing) on the classically inspired “Khedive,” while “The Outpost” is another multi-layered vocal rocker (Sucherman really is the linchpin to making Styx rock these days) and “Mission To Mars” ends the whole concoction. This is an all-high rock performance from a classic American rock band who really have never sounded better. The concept here hinders Styx a little too leadenly, but for sheer musicality and the mix of high harmonies (and the fact that we haven’t heard something new from this band for so long), The Mission is a strong, solid effort.

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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby ChicagoSTYX » Fri Jun 23, 2017 11:06 pm

http://www.classicrockrevisited.com/sho ... hp?id=1689

Styx — The Mission
Alpha Dog2T/Ume
http://transmissionmedia.com/styx/

Rating: B+

Dennis DeWho?

Eighteen years after Dennis DeYoung left Styx, the boys have unveiled an album that not only affirms their strength as a rock ’n’ roll powerhouse, but also as a conceptual force. That’s right: The Mission is a concept album done right (sorry, Kilroy).

Hopes soared when the band announced plans to record with analog technology. They craved an old-school approach to recapture their ‘70s glory with vinyl’s warmth. While not always successful, The Mission more than meets that goal.

“Overture” and “Gone Gone Gone” pack a one-two punch, launching the album like the nuclear-powered Khedive interstellar spacecraft underlying the storyline. The 43-minute adventure chronicles the ship’s voyage to Mars in the year 2033 (underwritten by the Global Space Exploration Program, or GSEP, naturally).

Rather than feature sound effects and similarly cheesy plot distractions, The Mission relies on the songs to tell the story. It’s a tale packed with classic Styx vocal harmonies, synth sounds that helped make The Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight timeless classics and songcraft that can only come when Tommy Shaw straps on a guitar and the band joins in.

Whether executing intricate guitar-keyboard line in “Gone Gone Gone” or stretching out with majestic vocal harmonies on “The Red Storm,” the songs come first. Sure, the album follows a concept, but several compositions stand on their own. Listeners need not approach the album like a novel, though taking it in at once helps.

Aside from “Trouble at the Big Show” and no James “JY” Young rocker, the album is an overall success. We have rockers and softer, acoustic-driven material, all powered by rich vocal harmonies and Lawrence Gowan’s piano and synthesizer textures.

In an era when downloads and individual song streaming have overtaken the marketplace, The Mission is a refreshing return to simpler times, when record buyers rushed home to slap new albums on turntables, read the liner notes and flipped from side one to side two.

Most listeners won’t go that retro, but following the lyrics or imagining the Martian surface isn’t necessary, either. The Mission melds Styx’s classic sound (even flirting with Queen-like harmonies and piano in “Khedive”) while doing something else: offering a concept album on the band’s own terms 34 years after Dennis DeYoung talked the band into Kilroy Was Here.

Track Listing:
1. Overture
2. Gone Gone Gone
3. Hundred Million Miles From Home
4. Trouble At The Big Show
5. Locomotive
6. Radio Silence
7. The Greater Good
8. Time May Bend
9. Ten Thousand Ways
10. Red Storm
11. All Systems Stable
12. Khedive
13. The Outpost
14. Mission To Mars


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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby ChicagoSTYX » Tue Aug 01, 2017 10:22 am

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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby gr8dane » Tue Aug 01, 2017 10:43 pm

Nearly 200 reviews on Amazon averaging 4 1/2 stars out 5.Pretty damn impressive.
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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby Archetype » Wed Aug 02, 2017 1:35 am

The Mission is finding fans in the progressive community (fans of Dream Theater, Rush, etc) and I think it's a result of the video performance of The Red Storm that Todd posted on YouTube. Great progressive drumming on display
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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby ChicagoSTYX » Wed Aug 02, 2017 4:54 am

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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby yogi » Wed Aug 02, 2017 8:02 am

GREAT GREAT review!!!!
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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby Archetype » Thu Aug 10, 2017 7:13 am

The Mission has been getting some of the most consistently good reviews I've ever seen for an album. I love it. Very solid effort that I can listen to without skipping any songs. Styx really knocked this one out of the park. I really hope they will do a theater tour and play the whole thing.
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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby ChicagoSTYX » Tue Aug 22, 2017 4:34 am

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Re: The Mission (Reviews)

Postby ChicagoSTYX » Tue Aug 22, 2017 5:45 am

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