Styx haven’t put out a studio album since 2005’s Big Bang Theory, a collection of cover tunes that influenced the Chicago band. So it makes sense that with the recently released “The Mission,” their 16th studio album, fans of the band are excited!
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The album’s 14 tracks are said to “chronicle the trials, tribulations and ultimate triumphs of the first manned mission to Mars in the year 2033… It was created to reflect the viewpoint of the six-person crew enlisted for the maiden voyage of Khedive, the first entry in a new fleet of nuclear-powered interplanetary spacecraft underwritten by the Global Space Exploration Program.”
Tommy Shaw, who co-wrote the album’s storyline, says, “The planets truly aligned for The Mission, and I couldn’t be prouder. It’s our boldest, most emblematic album since Pieces of Eight.”
Styx co-founder James “JY” Young adds, “In the 40th anniversary year of our release of our biggest-selling album of all time, Grand Illusion, it just seemed truly appropriate to save our new studio album until this year. Needless to say, I’m very excited.”
Keyboardist Lawrence Gowan, who sings the first single, “Gone Gone Gone,” says, “The album feels simultaneously comfortable and new. It’s both entertaining and charming, and a natural progression of our sound.”
“THE MISSION is a deep, conceptual, and cinematic epic that offers listeners a thrilling emotional journey — and all ‘cast’ with impassioned guitar parts and those textured, ‘chill-inducing’ Styx vocals. Guitarists Tommy Shaw and James Young sound like they’re energetic upstarts with something to prove, rather than members of a band with decades of history. This is a truly brilliant soundscape, as well as a tribute to the evocative power of the guitar.” — Michael Molenda, Editor-in-Chief, Guitar Player
“A throwback to the styles of classic Styx records like THE GRAND ILLUSION and PIECES OF EIGHT, THE MISSION is a wonderful mix of knotty, ’70s-era progressive rock madness alongside the melodic power pop the band does so well. Todd Sucherman might be the baby of the group, but he’s an old soul when it comes to finding the right flavor for the new material—and he’s not shy to provide a healthy slab of blazing hand technique, elevating parts to a whole other level of excitement.”
— Ilya Stemkovsky, Modern Drummer
“Styx have really delivered a welcome addition to their catalog with the arrival of THE MISSION, which wraps in all of the important elements of their much loved classic sound, with a wealth of big hooks, anthemic choruses and most importantly, an album’s worth of really good Styx music.”
–Matt Wardlaw, UltimateClassicRock.com
Indeed, THE MISSION is an aurally adventurous 43-minute thrill ride that chronicles the trials, tribulations, and ultimate triumphs of the first manned mission to Mars in the year 2033. From the hopeful drive of “Gone Gone Gone” to the stargazing machinations of “Locomotive” to the rough-riding blaze of glory that permeates the hard-charging “Red Storm” to the elegiac optimism of the closing track “Mission to Mars,” the album succeeds in delivering the greater good from a band that continues to fire on all cylinders, 45 years after signing its first recording contract.
In fact, THE MISSION–which was recorded over a two-year period at Blackbird Studios, The Shop, and 6 Studio Amontillado in Nashville–displays the best aspects of the ongoing in-harmony musical intersection of the six-man STYX team: the aforementioned guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw, co-founding guitarist/vocalist James “JY” Young, keyboardist/vocalist Lawrence Gowan, original bassist Chuck Panozzo, drummer/percussionist Todd Sucherman, and bassist Ricky Phillips.
The new music was created to reflect the viewpoint of the six-person crew enlisted for the maiden voyage of Khedive, the first entry in a new fleet of nuclear-powered interplanetary spacecraft underwritten by the Global Space Exploration Program (or GSEP, for short). The Khedive team consists of The Pilot, a fully hands-on, seat-of-the-pants born leader; a First Officer who serves as the team’s big-brother figure; an Engineer who is skeptical of every phase of the mission but remains confident in his own abilities to make the best of any technical situation; and a Top-Shelf Trio of science, astrophysics, and survivalist experts.
“The album feels simultaneously comfortable and new,” observes Gowan. “It’s both entertaining and charming, and a natural progression of our sound.” Concludes Panozzo, “THE MISSION is a sincere and honest representation of how STYX built upon where we were in the 20th century in order to go somewhere new in the 21st century.” And that’s the gist of THE MISSION, STYX’s bold sonic voyage into an exciting new frontier with the goal of discovering how the universe’s mysteries unfold—and then creating the perfect soundtrack to accompany it.