I still remember the first time I ever heard Styx. It was “Come Sail Away” on a crappy little Panasonic digital FM clock radio in 1977. The album The Grand Illusion, Styx’s seventh, was famously released on 7/7/77, making today it’s 40th anniversary. What better way to celebrate that than to focus on a brand-new album which has been lauded as a return to Styx’s heyday. And so, the Mission begins.
The Mission, Styx’s 16th studio album and it’s first album of original material in 14 years (following 2003’s excellent Cyclorama). It’s a concept album, built around the story of a crew on a mission to Mars on the rocket ship Khedive, focusing on the characters of the Pilot (Tommy Shaw), the First Officer (Lawrence Gowan) and nominally, the Engineer (James Young). Critics have raved over it, calling it Styx’s best album since Grand Illusion and 1978’s Pieces of Eight. Having been a Styx fan for a long time, and having really loved Cyclorama (which I thought was pretty darn great), I came to this album with a mix of excitement and cautiousness, therefore I wanted to sit with it for a while before I reviewed it.