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STYX ‘Cyclorama’ (Sanctuary Records SANPR156) (2003)

The first studio album since the founding members departed. Their replacements are the returning Glen Burtnick, who appeared on Styx’s 1990 ‘Edge of the Century’ album and Canadian solo artist Lawrence Gowan. They join guitarist/vocalists James Young and Tommy Shaw, along with drummer Todd Sucherman. By adding Burtnick and Gowan, they have added two more high quality vocalists and songwriters, with the harmonies on this album a particular highlight.

The first two tracks, ‘Do Things My Way’ and ‘Waiting For Our Time’ are very much in the mould of the acoustic rock of the Shaw/Blades album of a few years ago. These two songs are immense! Beautiful harmonies, catchy hooks and tasty guitar in the background - prime time Styx in fact! Lawrence Gowan makes his Styx debut on the mid-tempo ‘Fields of the Brave’ and it sounds not unlike his solo work, very piano led. The same is true of ‘More Love For Your Money’, keeping within the Gowan solo style.

The first guests appear on ‘Kiss Your Ass Goodbye’ in the shape of Tenacious D, who lend their vocal talents to the background. Glen Burtnick sings lead on this up-tempo pop rocker, very much in the Butch walker mode, making it one of the best tracks on the album. ‘Yes I Can’ follows a very mellow path, gentle acoustic guitar and tamborine with more harmonising vocals! The closing track ‘Genki Des Ka’ is a strange one - repeating the refrain over with some other vocals thrown in. Sounds an awful prospect, especially at over six minutes but it works well.

There are a few weaker tracks like ‘Captain America’, a typical James Young rocker and ‘Bourgeois Pig’, a short track that wears after a few plays.

A great return to form, full of great harmony filled songs. It’s not the Styx of the 70’s although there are snippets of pomp here and there (check out ‘One With Everything’ with its keyboard overload) but a fresh attempt to bring the band into the modern arena. If you like melodic rock then this is one album you must add to your collection.



Review by Jason Ritchie

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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