MUSIC DISCOVERY MONDAY – 10/9/17
Music Discovery Monday shines a light on artists that are not getting the radio attention that they deserve, while also showcasing new singles by established bands that are likely to get airplay in the future.
In addition to appearing on the embedded YouTube playlist below, all songs featured on Music Discovery Monday can be listened to individually by clicking on the hyper-linked song titles above each review.
ADAM WALDMAN – (Publisher/Editor, Hard Rock Daddy)
SONS OF APOLLO – “Signs Of The Time”
“Signs Of The Time” was the first song that Mike Portnoy, Derek Sherinian and Bumblefoot wrote together when they began writing for Sons Of Apollo. With an enormous catalog of music on the resume of each, you might expect to hear familiar influences. However, the riff for this song was inspired by two influences that you wouldn’t necessarily expect to see together (Korn and Pantera). Before the lyrics were written by Portnoy and Jeff Scott Soto, Bumblefoot referred to the song as “Korntera.”
Virtuosity is a word that I always seem to use when reviewing any of Portnoy’s projects, but there’s a reason for that. As one of the best (and busiest) drummers in rock history, Portnoy is very selective about who he chooses to play with. The players in this project are no exception.
Sons Of Apollo is the brainchild of Portnoy and Sherinian. Much like Dream Theater, this project is a collaborative one that finds Portnoy as the leader. It was what he insisted upon. However, it was not ego-driven, more about time management. Playing in as many projects as he does simultaneously, Portnoy just didn’t have the time to wade through countless e-mails on a daily basis between all of the members. In all other aspects, he and Sherinian are partners in Sons Of Apollo.
This supergroup sees the reunion of more than just the two members of Dream Theater. Portnoy also reunites with fellow Winery Dog member, Billy Sheehan. While many artists are hesitant to use the word “supergroup,” Portnoy embraced it when talking about “Signs Of The Time”…
“I figured this would be a great ‘first taste’ to introduce the world to this amazing new supergroup…and there’s a whole lot more of different musical styles and twist & turns still to come all throughout the album.”
Portnoy also shared his thoughts about the contributions of his band mates…
‘It starts with this heavy, brutal Bumbleriff, then goes into a cool verse with a two-part vocal melody that I wrote (sung by Jeff and myself), which eventually opens up to a HUGE vocal hook in the chorus that Jeff wrote (sung in three-part harmony by Jeff, myself and Bumblefoot).
“The middle section riffs are a few things that Derek brought in and show why he is the most BADASS keyboard player in the biz (playing the keys like a guitar player on fire!), and then we have the long, extended breakdown and guitar solo which shows why Bumblefoot is one of today’s greatest GUITAR HEROES! This album is going to get him the recognition he truly deserves and this particular guitar solo is one of the tastiest, most insane solos I’ve EVER heard.
“So all in all, this song has a little bit of everything that makes SONS OF APOLLO so special…great heavy riffs, amazing solos with individual instrumental virtuosity and a big, catchy chorus with more hooks than a tackle box!!
There isn’t much more that can be said about “Signs Of The Time,” but I’ll share my thoughts anyway…
Too often these days, artists seem to be tailoring their sound for radio airplay. It’s understandable. Making a living as a musician these days is a tremendous uphill battle that few actually win. The “Signs Of The Time” indeed. However, supergroups like Sons Of Apollo have an enormous fan base to tap into as individuals, so there is no need to create “radio-friendly” music. Therein lies the brilliance of the band.
“Signs Of The Time” is not a song. It’s a musical journey, an experience if you will, that evolves with each listen as you peel back the layers. The mysticism of Dream Theater and Rush is complemented by dark, heavy riffs, and bright, beautiful vocal harmonies. JSS’ vocals seamlessly vacillate between modern edge and melodic. The harmonies in the chorus are reminiscent of classic Kansas.
If you have an appreciation for musicality, and an open-mindedness to hearing numerous influences in one song, make sure to check out “Signs Of The Times.” Ironically, the song is the very antithesis of today’s short attention span times.
SONS OF APOLLO – “Coming Home”
We don’t usually feature two songs by the same artist on Music Discovery Monday, but then again, most artists aren’t Sons Of Apollo. This kind of collective talent sets the bar incredibly high (even by supergroup standards). The other reason to showcase a second song by the band is to give a glimpse into the band’s diverse offerings.
Whereas “Signs Of The Time” is a multi-layered musical experience with elements that are found more often in progressive rock, “Coming Home” is more straightforward hard rock. Interestingly, the opening keyboard riff is reminiscent of “Green Tinted Sixties Mind” (by Mr. Big). Although Sons Of Apollo features Billy Sheehan on bass, his playing is not what has the feeling of familiarity.
“Coming Home” has a big, arena rock sound. Sheehan pounding away on the double-neck bass gives the song a fat bottom, as does Mike Portnoy’s thunderous drumming. With a rock solid foundation, Bumblefoot and Derek Sherinian have the freedom to showcase their immense talents. Jeff Scott Soto’s passionate, soulful vocals shine throughout, and he even offers up a scream that conjures up memories of Roger Daltrey in “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”
While others would “zig” off of an energized scream, Sons Of Apollo “zag” into a more subdued moment, as if to let the listeners catch their breath. Only true professionals can pull of this kind of transition with such natural ease. The same can be said of adding in tasteful leads throughout, while keeping the song moving straight ahead.
Everything that you love about the musicianship of the golden days of rock is contained within “Coming Home.” Personally speaking, I cannot wait until Sons Of Apollo comes to town with what promises to be a live performance for the ages.
ANDY CHEUNG – HRD Music Scout
BYZANTINE – “New Ways To Bear Witness”
Hailing from West Virginia, Byzantine released a new album this year entitled The Cicada Tree. Their sixth album features a continuation of the thrash/progressive metal sound that they established with previous releases. There are times when it borders on being radio friendly, but once that starts happening, it pushes it back into the metal realm. The harmony on the vocals, the scream/growl mixed with clean vocals, and the great riffs, makes\ this album a captivating listen.
KADAVAR – “Into The Wormhole”
There is no shortage of fuzzy, ‘70s-era sounding metal bands that pay homage to (and draw their influences from) the likes of Black Sabbath. Doing it well and making it interesting is the challenge. Kadavar does a great job with their sound and feel by injecting some modern elements into the mix. All in all, the tune is heavy as hell. I would have loved for Black Sabbath to write something this heavy. Check out Kadavar’s new album, Rough Times, if you love retro bands like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin.
ROB DELL’AQUILA – HRD Music Scout
WITHIN SILENCE – “Heroes Must Return”
Slovakian metal band Within Silence released their debut album two years ago. They return next month with their second album, Return From The Shadows. They perform melodic metal with soaring vocals and romping guitars.
ANGEL NATION – “Burn The Witch”
Finnish soprano Elina Siirlana was a classically trained vocalist, but when she moved to London in 2008, she fell in love with rock and metal. Siirlana became the second singer for symphonic metal band Leaves’ Eyes, and founded this melodic metal band, Angel Nation. This single comes from the band’s sophomore album, Aeon, (due out October 27th).
To be considered for Music Discovery Monday, please e-mail a link to the song being submitted on YouTube and an artist bio to – submissions@MusicDiscoveryMonday.com