STYX

"The Mission" (Alpha Dog; 2017)

Reviewed by Snidermann

"The Mission" is the first studio album from Styx since 2003 and it's is a concept album to boot. I remember when Dennis DeYoung insisted on putting out numerous concept releases and Tommy Shaw and James Young weren't too happy about it. And who could be? Songs like "Mr Roboto" were so bad, they made my teeth ache!

Well, "The Mission" simply rocks. It reminds me of old Styx when they were actually cool and putting out music that actually matters. This release has it all: catchy tunes, great songwriting, extremely tight harmonies, outstanding musicianship and attitude. I will admit, I haven't followed Styx over the past few years ... not from lack of interest but just because ... well. just because.

The story of "The Mission" is about a manned mission to Mars and everything that is involved in that. When I first heard what was planned, I must say I was more than a little skeptical, but after listing to the recording for the past week, I am completely on board. "The Mission" should bring back all the Styx fans that were pining for the old sound. It's back here now in spades

For more information, check out http://www.styxworld.com.

"One With Everything" (Frontiers; 2006)

Reviewed by Edwin Van Hoof

"One With Everything" is Styx's symphony-packed and orchestra-backed live CD following the elusive release of a likewise classic issue from their former frontman Dennis De Young. Where DeYoung literally changed arrangements to all of the classic Styx tunes, the band themselves have stayed closer to the original. DeYoung's “The Music of Styx, Live with a Symphony Orchestra” was released in 2004 and became an instant classic in the contemporary rock scene. Can Styx catch up with the high expectations?

“One with Everything” certainly has its moments, but it needs to be said that Dennis took his project to an entirely different level. Styx has stayed closer to the original essence of their songs, simply boosting them with the pompous sound of the orchestra, creating extra depth and a deeper dimension overall. Whereas DeYoung went into the music and made it classical, Styx kept rocking. It is up to the listener to decide and pick their favorite. 

Styx surely gives their very best. The immaculate versions of “Boat of the River” and “Crystal Ball” are perhaps their best performances of the songs ever. Magical moments are numerous: “Fooling Yourself ( Angry Young Man)" is one, with its cacophonic classical intro as is the amazing "Too Much Time on My Hands." The extra dimension in sound offered by the orchestra truly works for the music of Styx, something no one would have expected. Enjoyed best with a headset, listening to this CD becomes an experience! 

Still, "One With Everything" slightly disappoints me, also. The pompous sound of the band surely lends itself for these events however, when the band keeps rocking at full steam (as on “Miss America,” “Renegade” or “I Don’t Need No Doctor”), it tends to overshadow the warmth and wonder contributed by the youngsters of the Contemporary Youth Orchestra of Cleveland. On top of that, the band leans too heavily on their recently released “Big Bang Theory” by performing no less than three tracks from that disc. I would have preferred a song like “Sing for the Day” or “Mr. Roboto,” both of which would have lent themselves a bit better for the occasion. Or maybe I'm too critical? 

The newly written tracks for this project, like the amazing title track or the wonderful “Everything All the Time,” simply prove the power of the band’s music in combination with the orchestra, as does the new studio version of “Just Be,” which is simply wonderful. Maybe that is why I am a little disappointed? Styx magnified times 50, still is Styx all over! But throw in the extra power and volume and it all could have been so much more intriguing, as is proven by the new tracks and on several places throughout the CD. These magical occasions, however, are too few.

Don’t get me wrong here, folks. "One With Everything" is still the amazing Styx performing at their very best. It's just that they overdid it slightly Having released a dozen classic live albums over the last few years alone, hardly anyone seems to be waiting for this disc, which just adds too little. 

Taking in consideration the wonderful DeYoung version of this project, and you’ll have a tough pick. Best thing to do is buy both. That way, you get an insight into the lives and times of this band and its members and their current standing. Both albums together are a great collection, featuring the best rock music of the last three decades, performed with symphonic orchestra, interlacing perfectly and preserving a long lasting legacy.

For more information, check out http://www.styxworld.com

"Styxworld: Live 2001" (CMC International; 2001)

Reviewed by Snidermann

I was excited when I received this live Styx CD to review. I have always been a fan of the band, and a live CD at this point of the game sounded like a great idea.

At first spin, I was surprised to find that the CD sounded just okay. Subsequent spins found the CD lacking more and more. For one thing, new vocalist Lawrence Gowan (who replaced original vocalist Dennis DeYoung in 1999), simply can't do for the music what DeYoung did. In addition, the band covers a song by the Damn Yankees (in which Tommy Shaw is a member). But the combination of Styx and Damn Yankees just doesn't work. 

"Styxworld" isn't a bad live CD, but it isn't as good as one might hope for. If and when Dennis comes back, count me in.

For more information, please visit http://www.styxworld.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

 

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Revised: 20 Aug 2017 18:08:47 -0400 .