STYX’s ‘Crash Of The Crown’ is classic rock with modern drama

STYx, Crash Of The Crown, STXY Crash Of The Crown

If you’re a STYX fan but haven’t thought about the ’70s rockers in a while, 17th album Crash Of The Crown will bring memories rushing back. Their classic rock sound remains intact, mixed with some light medieval twinkling and a message about overcoming the depressions of life in America. The album is inspirational and although written pre-pandemic, the lyrical themes fit perfectly into the world we live in. STYX must have been struck with a stroke of prescient ingenuity, as the album references sheltering with loved ones, protesting in the streets and finding hope in dark times. Maybe when you’ve been writing rock since 1975, you can see a few things coming.

Crash Of The Crown
Alpha Dog 2T/Universal, June 18

The album starts out with “Fight For Our Lives,” an incredibly appropriate title for a song that could have been the anthem for 2020. “We will not give in, the game is our to win,” they sing. Written by guitarist-vocalist Tommy Shaw, the song speaks of the here and now, but the sound throws back to 1970s rock ballads. “A Monster” follows with a more serious tone and message about living in a world where what goes around comes around.

“Reveries” is a light song, beginning with an upbeat acoustic guitar, picking up in the middle with an impassioned guitar solo. “Here I’m running with the elephants, fighting all the elements, in this crowd,” they sing of giving up dreams and becoming dedicated to those around them. “Hold Back the Darkness” is a contemplative tune, beginning with the light patter of rain, ambient sounds and an acoustic guitar. The song follows a young person leaving home for the first time and looking for freedom. “I’m trying to break free from these chains, won’t you give me a break/ You just gotta give me a chance to make my own mistakes,” Shaw sings, challenging a younger perspective.

“Save Us From Ourselves” is perhaps STYX’s most impressive prediction of 2020, as the lyrics address protests and appropriation: “One nation, indivisible, heads in the sand ’cause we weren’t invisible/ Same prayers, we could all use a miracle now, to save us from ourselves.” It brings listeners back to the wild, powerful moments of nationwide clash and protest. “Crash of the Crown” is a pretty rockin’ and inspirational track, complete with a piano breakdown leading to the bridge. STYX suggest we fight through the darkness “’til the walls come tumbling down.”

The playful and breezy “Our Wonderful Lives” is a joyous celebration, yet it deals with fighting depression: “We won’t give in yet, we shall not forget, we still have our wonderful lives.” “Common Ground” makes a plea to remember our youthful inability to empathize with others’ opinions.

“Sound the Alarm” is the strongest ballad on Crash of the Crown, with advice to “Take shelter with the ones you love/ Maybe someday we can rise above and all be safe from harm.” STYX should have written all of last year’s PSAs. “Wear a Damn Mask” would have been the incredibly useful smash hit summer 2020 needed…

“Long Live the King” has a modern vibe, both in lyrics and sound. I can’t help but feel there’s an allusion to the former U.S. President, with an army of people feeding off his every word.

“Coming Out the Otherside” starts out with an Eastern sound, using a sitar, then quickly returning back to STYX’s signature American appeal. The mournful “To Those” still offers up upbeat percussion and airy guitar riffs. “To those of you survived, find beauty in your life/ Don’t be afraid of love/ Stand up and rise above,” the band sings, suggesting that if the young sent the old to war, there would be permanent peace. That band then throws in a slight suggestion to eat the rich, making for one of the most epic songs on the album.

“Another Farewell,” clocks in at just 25 seconds and gives the impression that a symphony broke into the studio and played for a brief moment, before being escorted out by security. “Stream” ends the album with a dreamy chorus and a feeling reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s “Breathe (In the Air).” “Please don’t wake me from this sweet dream, floating on a stream/ Sunshine beaming down on my face, staring into space,” the band sings. The future seems bright, fight the power and your own depression, you can always call home for help, but the time is now to be free, STYX seem to suggest.

Crash Of The Crown is a supportive rock assembly and what people of a certain generation might be yearning for, sound-wise. It’s a throwback to ’70s rock but addresses modern complications. What more could want from STYX in 2021?

Follow Gabrielle Poccia on Instagram.

(10) Comments

  1. Greg

    I just finished listening to this album. I think this review is quite to the point. An excellent summation.

  2. JimmyHaole

    Yeah, I know, I know but I'm still not getting the vaccine. Haha I KNOW I'm sorry I'm just not getting it. Yeah, no.

  3. Mike

    Why would I want a Styx album that reminds me of 2020? Music sounds fine but I really wish these guys would hire some writers. The lyrics are simply annoying. Styx is long over due for a simple, basic, non deep think rock album. Something tells me we're not going to get it. Get back with Dennis and give the fans what they want.

    1. Bryan

      Denis was a cheese ball. 3/4 of this album is excellent. I can’t say that about most modern music these days. Excellent job, Styx. Don’t listen to the dumb ass.

      1. Mike

        Annnd the one fan has spoken. Trust me streams will chart and spike a bit, over all sales will be mediocre and just like the other new albums from Styx it will soon be forgotten. No one goes to a Styx show to hear any song written after Brave New World. Well, except for maybe you. If Styx did a tour featuring mostly songs from the last three original albums it would be a disaster. It has nothing to do with talent but with identity as a band. The Mission album they made was everything Tommy said he hated about Kilroy and at the time said he was wanting to get back to rock music. The current line up has yet to give us a solid rock album of new material. I do not hate Styx, they are one of my all time favorite bands and I have lost count how many times I have seen them perform. Still, with all the drama the fans went through watching them self destruct they owe it to deliver on the back end. Dennis may have been a cheese ball but without his influence and contributions the band wouldn't have been able to stay on tour like they have for the past 25 years. Outside of that influence they have very little to tour on.

  4. Rusty Shackleford

    Really, we are all sick to death of hearing about the crap that is going on. We want movies, music and games to escape the shitty realities of modern life. Why? Just read all the lyrics. IT's NOT inspiring, it's just depressing. I'll pass on this one. And I am a life-long Styx fan.

    1. Ron

      I personally thought it was a very inspiring album, just like the previous album. A return to form even, while offering a few new twists as well, regardless of who’s in the band. But that’s my opinion. I think these releases are great, and hope for more of similar quality in the future before they hang up the towel!

  5. Peter

    I’m listening to it for the fifth or sixth time since getting it two days ago. I went back to listen to The Mission once more. Did Styx just get even better?

  6. Terry K.

    i think it's a VERY strong album--the songs are maybe a tad too short- you get into them and the next one is up....minor picodilo. The band sounds great and this might even top The Mission. The one thing I agree on is...where is JY? Has he stopped writing AND singing? He brought the most rock elements out of the band,but I'm guessing his writing talents have dried up in the later years. Other than that...great new album. Kudos to the guys for keeping the flame lit w/o DDY. Tough road that,but-- they've been able to accomplish it! Terry K.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *