A Third Ear for “MMXX”

SONS OF APOLLO, MMXX (InsideOut, 2020)

PERSONNEL: Mike Portnoy (drums and vocals); Derek Sherinian (keyboards); Jeff Scott Soto (vocals); Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (guitar and vocals); Billy Sheehan (bass)


  1. Goodbye Divinity
  2. Wither to Black
  3. Asphyxiation
  4. Desolate July
  5. King of Delusion
  6. Fall to Ascend
  7. Resurrection Day
  8. New World Today


There’s something to be said for putting five virtuosos in a room and just letting them play. It’s even better when said virtuosos understand the value of listening, leaving room, and interaction toward a common aim.

Sons of Apollo get it.

The band shows no signs of the dreaded sophomore slump on their second album, MMXX (Inside/Out). Diving back into the deep well of heavy riffs and driving beats, the band pretty much picks up where it left off on its debut, Psychotic Symphony. The new album contains everything fans enjoyed about the debut, kicked up a notch.

From front to back, Jeff Scott Soto (vocals), Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (guitar), Derek Sherinian (keyboards), Billy Sheehan (bass), and Mike Portnoy (drums) lay waste to the music before them, yet do so with taste and sophistication. They use their arsenal of chops to serve the songs, rather than the other way around.

Most of the tunes are straight-forward rockers allowing Soto to make the most of his gravelly yet booming voice. But there is more than enough Prog sprinkled in to keep things interesting.

It would be easy to let some of the songs drone on endlessly simply to confirm the musician’s abilities. But the band manages to restrain themselves. The exception being the album’s 15-minute closer, “New World Today,” where the spirit of Emerson, Lake & Palmer descends from the heavens and channels its way through the group.

Other standout tracks include “Wither to Black,” “Desolate July,” and “Fall to Ascend.” This is not to imply that there are weak tracks on this album. There aren’t.

With MMXX, Sons of Apollo fulfill the ambitions of any band looking to prove their debut wasn’t a one-off event. Indeed, they recapture lightning in a bottle, and that spark should propel them forward for as long as they desire.

Sons of Apollo


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My book, I Can’t Be the Only One Hearing This: A Lifetime of Music Through Eclectic Ears, is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine book dealers.

Would you like to have your album reviewed? Contact me at cirdecsongs@gmail.com


  1. It’s refreshing to see the personnel you listed on such a recent album. I worry about the future possibilities for progressive rock because it’s always been such an album-oriented genre and oftentimes, the sheer lengths of the songs would prevent even the most musically informed of today’s kiddos from downloading them. In other words, our current love affair with technological instant gratification is a threat to virtuosity and artistry. I still love albums. I still buy CDs. My younger friends mock me for this.

    Liked by 1 person

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