Styx – The Mission
Release Date: June 16, 2017
Label: Eagle Rock Records
Growing as a kid in the 70’s, I was one of many whose dad (or mom if yours was into that) was a Styx fan. Now I’m not talking about that corny Mr. Roboto crap. I’m talking Cornerstone, Pieces of Eight, the Grand Illusion, you know, the great shit. Styx was a band that growing up was “dad rock” to me. I was never a fan of songs like “Lady”, “Come Sail Away”, and stuff like that. It just didn’t do much for me but when I got older, my dad shared The Grand Illusion with me and I feel in love with that album. The songs, the delivery, the concept; it was so much more than I expected but in my opinion, Styx never made another album that touched me like that one did… until now.
The Mission is Styx’s first album of original material since 2003’s Cyclorama which up to this point was the only album to feature Lawrence Gowan on lead vocals/keys in place of long time member Dennis DeYoung. The Mission is a conceptual album in the sense that it tells a story of space travel that bares a heavy Ziggy Stardust influence. This kind of concept can be a sticky thing in that you really need to do this well or it will just be corny. Styx not only pulled it off with The Mission but they put out, in my opinion, their greatest work since The Grand Illusion.
The thing that struck me the minute “Overture/Gone Gone Gone” came on was, “Hot damn! Styx sounds like an energized, youthful band.” Gowan brings a certain kind of edge to Styx that DeYoung failed to bring. He has a more suiting voice for a song this rocking yet has a subtle, emotive, yet gravelly feel on the stellar track “The Greater Good.” This song to me is the absolute showstopper of the album. It gave me chills and had me going in for a 2nd and even 3rd listen before reminding myself that I had more to hear. Long time member Tommy Shaw definitely steps it up on this album and has grown to be a truly fantastic rock n’ roll voice that I really enjoy listening to. “Hundred Million Miles from Home” is his shining moment on this album full of win.
The Mission was a huge surprise for me. Styx came off sounding youthful, energized, and full of life. The album is short and sweet which totally worked in their favor. There is no over indulgent wanking, no over inflated compositions, and the album moves at such a great pace that by the time it was over I was going in for another listen. The Mission is proof that less can definitely be more. I wish my dad was alive to hear this album because I just know he would have loved it. The Mission is a must have for any fan of epic/hard/progressive rock. If you find yourself asking, “How good could a Styx album in 2017 be?” after one listen you will find that the answer is, “really fucking good.”