Sons of Apollo

Black Bart

Ancient Mariner
A thread to discuss everything about this new band consisting of:
Jeff Scott Soto - Vocals
Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal - Guitars
Billy Sheehan - Bass
Mike Portnoy - Drums
Derek Sherinian - Keyboards

(The point is mostly not to hijack the thread about Dream Theater ;) - feel free to repost all relevant links, clever remarks, encouragement, insults... )

New Derek Sherinian interview:

'The dream was to always be in a cool rock band, not a prog rock band. DT was a great vehicle for me to gain international recognition, but I never envisioned myself growing old with those guys…ok, maybe Portnoy :) John found his cyborg soulmate in Jordan, and now Mike and I have Sons Of Apollo- everyone wins in the end!'

'Planet X was the result of me getting fired from DT, and wanting to form a technically superior band to stick it in their ass!!:) [...] Planet X broke harmonic and rhythmic ground for sure. To this day, I haven’t heard anything sicker instrumentally.'

About Sons Of Apollo:
'I have been prodding Mike for the last five years to do this, as it always seemed like an obvious move to me. After being in the same band for 25 years, I get that Mike wanted to diversify and play with many different people, but now it is time for him to reclaim the throne of the genre that he invented. I am at his side to make sure that happens.'

'Sons Of Apollo is a very collaborative effort where everyone is encouraged to contribute. I brought a finished musical piece and many other starting points. We then went in the studio and put it all together. Ron Thal is an amazing writer and musician. I doubt that we will ever have a shortage of musical ideas.'

Are you planning on touring?
'Extensively! SONS OF APOLLO will bring the show to as many people as possible.'

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Black Bart

Ancient Mariner


Staff member
Internet reaction seems to be an overwhelming meh. I’ll check it out though.


Staff member
Listened to about half of it. Don't understand why there isn't more Planet X type harmonies.
From what I understand, Sherinian didn't have much to do with the songwriting on the Planet X stuff, it's mostly Donati.

It's not too bad actually. First song is cool, there are some moments throughout. Songwriting isn't great but there's some really entertaining instrumental stuff. I actually kinda prefer the instrumental work on here to what DT has been doing over the past 10 years or so. That includes when Portnoy was in the band so I'm not really implying that Portnoy is the missing element, in fact it kinda feels like he phoned in the arrangement side of things despite that usually being one of his strong suits. The songs are kind of a mess structurally.

Soto sounds good but his voice can be monotonous and weak. I wish this was the project Portnoy used Russell Allen on because there are definite Symphony X vibes. Also some major obvious callbacks to FII (expected).

Love Bumblefoot's playing, although I wish he was doing more outside of his guitar solos. Doesn't seem like he found his role in the band. Still, the guitar playing is very good and there are some great solos.

Sheehan takes a major backseat. I forget he's on the album most of the time, but that's a good thing tbh. I've always felt like he approaches bass too much like a lead instrument and when you've got two really capable lead instrumentalists already, there was a risk of things being overbearing. Total opposite of Bumblefoot in that Sheehan has recognized his role in the band as rhythmic/harmonic support. He takes a necessary back seat.

Portnoy is Portnoy, his playing hasn't changed much since the 00s and he's probably the only drummer whose style I can immediately recognize (I suppose that would go for Nicko too, but he never does work outside of Maiden so it's hard to say). It's cool hearing him do the super technical stuff again though. This might sound silly, but he's been involved with so many straight forward rock projects over the past few years that I've kinda forgotten that he used to play stuff like The Dance of Eternity. Even his playing in DT was starting to become really streamlined. I know he's done stuff like PSMS but that project was short lived and I don't know if I'd call most of the Neal Morse projects technically demanding.

I really like Sherinian's playing. Getting Rudess in DT was obviously the right choice, but it's a bummer Sherinian didn't get as much time in the band and joined at a bad time. Wasn't a big fan of the hubris during the album's promotional cycle, but I thought the keyboard work was refreshing compared to DT. I preferred the more traditional patches and his playing style.

Overall, it wasn't the worst thing I've heard lately but it is kinda average prog Metal. If you like that sort of thing (and miss DS and MP playing together) there's really nothing wrong with it. I think one thing to keep in mind is that this is a new band. The musical chemistry isn't quite there yet and the songs are pretty rushed. I'd like to see a followup album cause there's some potential. Of all the Portnoy side projects, this does seem to have the most legs. Like I said, there was some more interesting instrumental work; however, DT is better at having great songwriting around the instrumentals to give them more impact. The Sons of Apollo stuff just sounds kind of contrived and pasted in there. Still, a lot of it can be fun to listen to.

BTW the drama around this release has been ridiculous and seems even sillier for an album that is, at best, pretty good. I feel like there's a lesson in here about the internet and music, but I'm not sure what it is.


clap hands
I wish this was the project Portnoy used Russell Allen on because there are definite Symphony X vibes.

God, I couldn't agree more. These songs would be amazing with Russell's range and tone. I just listened to this:

...and thought, "Surely this is a demo version of one of the SX songs from Underworld, right?" The melodies and even the cheesy lyrics are so Symphony X. Soto's performance sounds very studio created and lacks punch.


Staff member
Yea, plus it's not as relentlessly aggressive as recent Symphony X which would probably satisfy the old school fans. Lyrics in general are pretty Symphony Xish, especially the opening tune.

I think MP was trying to recapture the JLB thing with Soto. Back when DT hired him, he only had the reputation of glam metal vocalist. What MP missed with Soto is that even though JLB wasn't known for particularly special music, he did have an incredibly powerful voice. Soto not so much. That being said, a producer probably would've benefitted him and the vocal parts are obviously afterthoughts (although that has always been true for DT too).

Lampwick 43

Barstool Warrior
Listening now. It's pretty enjoyable so far, but I'm sure I'll need several listens before I can truly form an opinion.

Do you guys know if Portnoy, and the other members for that matter, are intending to put forth the time to stay fully committed to this band, or is this more of a side project that probably wont produce much outside of this one album?


Staff member
It’s hard to say, Portnoy says he’s all in on this project but he’s also said that about Adrenaline Mob and Winery Dogs. I suppose it depends partially on sales/fan response, which probably doesn’t bode well for this groups longevity.

I will say though that this seems to have more legs than most of Portnoys recent projects. Part of the problem with his other groups is that everyone else has a main project they’re committed to. Everyone in SOA seems to be in the same boat: lots of side projects and session work but no main band.

Black Bart

Ancient Mariner
The album sounds as if DT had fired JLB instead of Derek in 1999... which would have suited me much better (and we wouldn't have had to bear a keyboard demonstrator striving to make his instrument sound like a fax from Mars to try and cover up the lack of inspiration of a tired band who have released nothing of note since 2002 in my opinion...ok, minus the song "Octavarium") ;). In other words, PS is the sequel to FII in a parallel world.

Deleted member 7164

Sounds pretty OK, not convinced by Soto at all (prevalent opinion it seems). Haven't checked the with the plumbing dept., just YT vids. 2nd album might be great.

Black Wizard

Pleb Hunter
Sons of Apollo are playing at a Prog/Classic Rock/Country festival in England called Ramblin Man Fair in July. I saw Dream Theater play there a couple of years ago with Scorpions, Saxon and Blue Oyster Cult.


Educated Fool
Really don’t understand the criticisms of Soto’s voice I’m seeing here! I think his voice is perfectly suited to the songs on this album.

I think he sounds great. I will also never understand this super love Russell Allen’s voice gets either. I think he’s a great singer but reading some posts on this and other forums you’d think the guy was some sort of god with his voice lol.

It’s all subjective opinions of course and just different to mine which peaks my curiosity :bigsmile:


clap hands
I think he sounds great. I will also never understand this super love Russell Allen’s voice gets either. I think he’s a great singer but reading some posts on this and other forums you’d think the guy was some sort of god with his voice lol.

We don't think, we know.


clap hands
And we have a "full" US tour:

Feb. 3-8 - Tampa, FL - Cruise To The Edge
Feb. 09 - Miami, FL - Magic City Casino/Monsters Of Rock Cruise Pre-show
Feb. 11 - Orlando, FL - Plaza LIVE Orlando
Feb. 12 - Atlanta, GA - Variety Playhouse
Feb. 13 - Carrboro, NC – Cat's Cradle
Feb. 15 - Asbury Park, NJ House of Independents
Feb. 16 - Buffalo, NY - Town Ballroom
Feb. 17 - Battle Creek, MI - The Music Factory
Feb. 18 - Joliet, IL - The Forge

I'll probably go if it's below $30 just to see two former DT members.