Styx: The Mission

The Mission
(Universal Music Enterprises)

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It’s been almost 15 years since Styx released an all new studio album. Their 16th, The Mission, is an actual concept album.

Original Styx members guitarist/vocalist James “JY” Young, and bassist Chuck Panozzo are taking flight here, as are long-time vocalist/guitarist Tommy Shaw, keyboardist/vocalist Lawrence Gowan, killer drummer Todd Sucherman, and bassist Ricky Phillips.

The story of The Mission involves the first manned mission to Mars, and begins with “Overture,” a heavy riffing tune with Sucherman lifting-off with some amazing drums rolls. “Gone Gone Gone,” follows, another heavy hitter, featuring this band’s particular high harmony vocals. The ‘welcome to the event’ sensibility of the lyrics on both are slightly lackluster unfortunately.

Tommy Shaw hits us with his acoustic on “Locomotive.” Lead bass moments and Sucherman’s tight snare add to the first solid song of this collection, and the lyrics even manage to straddle the concept and tell a its story within context of just this tune.

“Radio Silence” features wailing guitars and again Styx’s signature harmonies. “Ten Thousand Ways to Be Wrong,” has backing strings, Gowan gets a piano keys workout (with more backing strings) on the classically inspired “Khedive.” “The Red Storm” has some blisteringly fast acoustic guitar picking, and Sucherman (yes he is as much the stand out on Styx albums as he is live) wails away once again. This is best song on The Mission, I feel.

The Mission is solid, if not so inspiring, but Styx can still deliver what they have always done best, even this far into their journey.

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