Styx
The Mission


4.0
excellent

Review

by Batareziz USER (55 Reviews)
August 15th, 2017 | 20 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Houston, we are Go for launch

Concept albums are a difficult and sometimes extravagant task. Many, especially from the progressive ranks, attempted this, but, more often than not, the results were checkered. For whatever reason the chosen narrative is usually ambitious, not to say epic in scale, talking about complex, at times fantastical topics, taking places in other worlds even. But too seldom all these ambitions and ideas are fully realized. Such albums would start with vigor, but eventually they begin to deflate towards the end, finishing with scattered and confused songs, which are difficult to put together into a cohesive and clear story. Given all this it is surprising to see that 12 (or 14, depending on how you count) years after their last album, Styx decided to make the new one concept. And, which is even more surprising, it turned out to be excellent.

Despite the fact that Styx is more famous for its singles and some of the cuts, releasing concept albums is not something new for them. Over a span of their long career they produced several LPs (The Serpent Is Rising, Paradise Theatre, Kilroy Was Here) tied with a common theme, but at the end this approach resulted in a solid album, whose concept was not very noticeable to the eye (or ear). Nevertheless, what’s surprising is simplicity and effectiveness of the concept chosen for the sixteenth record.

The theme is in plain sight. Just take a look at the LP cover, which depicts planet Mars, visible in a space vehicle window – and everything will become clear. It is obvious that the album tells about the first human flight to Mars (that it takes place in 2033 is not so important). During The Mission the flight to and landing on the red planet can be followed quite easily, and doesn’t require reading additional materials, just listen to the lyrics and all the feelings and adventures will be clear. There is no overburdening with unnecessary details, absent are detours onto phantasmagoria and surrealism, everything is so lean and simple it is surprising nobody has thought of it earlier. The Mission is without a doubt a rare example of a successful concept album, one that encourages complete listen through of the record and not individual tracks.

The songs themselves are effective in delivering and creating the required atmosphere, be it exhilaration from the launch (Gone Gone Gone), loneliness in the immense outer space (Radio Silence) or dangers of the red planet (Red Storm). They flow together so convincingly that in terms of cinematic feel and vibrant images the album evokes, it can be favorably compared to the progressive metal classic of Queensryche Operation Mindcrime. At the same time Styx remained true to themselves without any drastic changes to the sound, like complex time signatures, unorthodox chord progressions or other progressive sophistications to realize their ideas (although, it should be noted it is more guitar-oriented and rock). The songs are still radio friendly, but it is fair to say all of them are of the highest grade. They can be appreciated both individually and within the album context, the latter being more effective way.

In the end, we can only congratulate ourselves with an unexpectedly pleasant surprise from the band, which has not delighted us with something worthy for a long time. The same goes for Styx with an undeniable artistic success this late in the career. Since the space agencies in various countries gaze more and more often towards the Moon and Mars in terms of exploration, The Mission can become a suitable soundtrack for such a large-scale enterprise.



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user ratings (14)
Chart.
3.4
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Divaman
August 15th 2017


3304 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Thinking of seeing them on the current tour.

Digging: Joe Jackson - Fool

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
August 15th 2017


8191 Comments


Very well written review, pos.

Digging: Sordide - Hier Dj Mort

e210013
August 15th 2017


2173 Comments


I always liked Styx. They never were one of my favourite bands, but I always liked them. Especially "Equinox", "The Grand Illusion" and "Pieces Of Eight". And it seems they return in a great shape with a "tour the force album" in this year. And above all, a conceptual album. People who knows me know how I love conceptual albums. But I don't know the album yet.

About your review, it's very well written and it awakened my attention to check the album. So, I need to do so very soon.

Thanks and pos.

Batareziz
August 15th 2017


203 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks for poses, Voivod and e210013. e, I'm glad you're now aware of the album. Give it a spin, I was pleasently surprised myself since I didn't expect much.

Divaman, go ahead if you have a chance. Let me know if you liked it or not :-)

Jethro42
August 15th 2017


15601 Comments


So Styx are always making music...? It's hard to go through the entire album. I will have to be in the right mood I guess.
I posd your review.

RippingCorpse1986
August 15th 2017


3009 Comments


Just as last year was Kansas’ resurgence, now this year is Styx’s comeback. Honestly I stopped paying attention to their discography after listening ''Kilroy Was Here'', so I really don't know if they sank lower or they recovered after that record, but this is a fresh and very good album. My favorite songs are Gone Gone Gone, Hundred Million Miles From Home, The Greater Good, Red Storm and especially Radio Silence, in my opinion the album's best song.
Great review, pos.

Batareziz
August 16th 2017


203 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Jethro42, yes, Styx's still making new music, if that's what you meant. Well, I guess you should always be in the right mood to appreciate any album, so get back to it later. Thanks for pos.

@Ripping, thank you, man. To be honest, you didn't miss much since that album, The Mission turned out to be quite a surprise, at least for myself. Oh, and I'd add Locomotive to that list of yours :-)

Jethro42
August 16th 2017


15601 Comments


Yes, my English can be wrong, sorry. And what I meant about the mood is that I had hard time to concentrate and to be patient in my listening. I'm gonna give a full spin soon. I already enjoy ''Locomotive'' and ''The Greater Good'', so it's already not that bad.

Batareziz
August 16th 2017


203 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

No problem, Jethro :-) It's quality pop/rock, probably not much substance, but pure enjoyment nonetheless. Let me know what your opinion is after you listen to it fully.

TheIntruder
August 17th 2017


402 Comments


I need to check this one. With so many positive criticism, it must be good.

Jethro42
August 17th 2017


15601 Comments


Great album. It pretty much sounds like classic Styx, mainly for the keyboards and the vocal harmonies. I've also noticed that the original guitarist and bassman are still on board. It helps to keep the good old sound. It's a pleasant listen from A to Z, I'm glad to have taken the time to listen to it in full. Sometimes I'm lazy when it comes to listening to new music. Potentially a 4/5.

Batareziz
August 17th 2017


203 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@TheIntruder, it's good in its surprising coherence and simple effectiveness. Check it out, you might like it.

@Jethro42, glad you liked it. It is definitely one of the strongest albums by the band. Plus I like what the new guy, Lawrence Gowan, brought to their sound. Now it's more rocking. Definitely better than DeYoung for my taste (with no disrespect to the latter).

SowingSeason
Moderator
August 17th 2017


29558 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

These guys were my favorite band in middle school and early high school before I started discovering more music. I'm skeptical of this seeing as everything after Kilroy was a time-waster, but I may yet give it a shot. Nice review.

Digging: Copeland - Blushing

Batareziz
August 17th 2017


203 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks, Sowing. Their other albums after Kilroy are what you described them. The Mission turned out to be an exception to this trend.

Sabrutin
December 8th 2017


5945 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Too sugary in places but flows well and it progs adequately for being AOR. Worth a spin!

Jethro42
December 9th 2017


15601 Comments


It rocks!...I am tempted to give this a 3.5, but I have Crystal Ball at that rating, so to keep the proportions right, i'll have to relisten to Crystal Ball before.

manosg
Staff Reviewer
December 9th 2017


11450 Comments


Definitely worth a spin! Had really low expectations but this is nice.

Digging: King Diamond - Songs for the Dead Live

SowingSeason
Moderator
December 9th 2017


29558 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

This is great.

Batareziz
February 10th 2018


203 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I concur. Was really surprised how fun and well-made it turned out to be. Not long before spinning "The Mission" I listened to a few of Styx's well-known albums and was truly disappointed. They sounded bland and too poppy and cheesy (and this is from someone who doesn't mind cheese at all). But this is poppy in all the right ways.

TheNotrap
August 23rd 2018


9603 Comments


Red Storm rocks

Digging: Opera Magna - Del amor y otros demonios



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