After 2017 The mission, Styx showed up four years later with a 15-song supersonic cyclone called Crash of the crown. In contrast to its predecessor, this is an album that is peppered with Styx magic throughout – from the subtle guitar work of James “JY” Young on the outro of “The Monster” to the cool, analog sounding keys that (if not “Weg”) with great sound, acoustics sail with songs like “Reveries” and “Our Wonderful Lives” – with little decorations here and there to make this whole collection, the band’s 17th studio album, a true guardian.
Tommy Shaw is at the forefront of his game – vocally and lends his fingers to all types of guitar, banjo and mandolin. The title track leads JY with that peppy, low-end growl he used on classics like “Miss America” and “Snowblind”. In a band with three lead singers, JY of course has Shaw and keyboardist Lawrence Gowan in his corner during the breaks. There’s even a quick pass at a “Mr. Roboto “-like effect.
Using a powerful five-part harmony mix, Styx hits hard at every turn with an incredible mix that assures the listener, “There’s no stopping” on “The Fight Of Our Lives” with a sort of recapitulation that the same call to the Human race Brouhaha on “To These”. Gowan takes over the vocals on “Common Ground” and lets his Mellotron, MiniMoog and Hammond B3 bring a deep Prog spot into the action. Shaw’s “Sound The Alarm” begins as a ballad with upfront acoustics, but then opens up to strange keyboard flourishes and a perfect layering of harmonies.
No wonder, if you add original bassist Chuck Panozzo, longtime bassist Ricky Philips, super drummer Todd Sucherman, and album producer and guest instrumentalist Will Evankovich Crash of the crown stands for a musical boost that we have not seen from Styx since its heyday in the 70s. One can only hope that they will stay on this course for the foreseeable future.
~ Ralph Greco, Jr.