Styx | Crash Of The Crown – New Studio Release Review

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Following 2017’s The Mission, Styx have emerged four years later with a 15-song supersonic cyclone called Crash Of The Crown. Unlike its predecessor, here’s an album peppered with Styx magic throughout — from the subtle guitar work of James “JY” Young at the outro on “The Monster,” to cool analog-sounding keys sailing (though not “away”) with big sounding acoustics on songs like “Reveries” and “Our Wonderful Lives” — with small embellishments here and there to make this whole collection, the band’s 17th studio album, a real keeper.

Tommy Shaw is at the top of his game — vocally and lending his fingers to all manner of guitar, banjo and mandolin. The title track has JY leading the way with that ballsy, low-end growl he has employed on classics like “Miss America” and “Snowblind.” Of course, in a band with three lead vocalists, JY has Shaw and keyboardist Lawrence Gowan in his corner on the breaks. There’s even a quick pass at a “Mr. Roboto”-like effect.

Making use of a powerful five-part harmony mix, Styx hits hard and every turn with an incredible mix that assures the listener, “there’ll be no stopping us” on  “The Fight Of Our Lives” with a reprise of sorts that utilizes the same call-to-the-human-race brouhaha on “To Those.” Gowan takes the vocal on “Common Ground” and lets his Mellotron, MiniMoog, and Hammond B3 put a deep stain of prog on the proceedings. Shaw’s “Sound The Alarm” starts as a ballad with an upfront acoustic, but then opens up for odd keyboard flourishes and a perfect layering of harmonies.

When you toss in original bassist Chuck Panozzo, longtime bassist Ricky Philips, super drummer Todd Sucherman and the album’s producer and guest instrumentalist Will Evankovich, it’s no wonder Crash Of The Crown represents a thrust of musicality we’ve not seen the likes of from Styx since their 70s heyday. One can only hope they stay on this course for the foreseeable future.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.

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