The beat has always been a spur in the side of rock 'n' roll, driving it to its musical destiny. The history of rock 'n' roll could be told by a look at the throbbing, insistent variations of a syncopated one TWO three FOUR.

Styx's brand of rock is a hellfire and brimstone beat overlaid with heavy metal guitar riffs and punctuated by keyboard intros and interludes that mellow the frantic rhythms. The musical imagery is a lattice work of Gothic design through which is woven lyrical, often haunting melodies.

In close to a two-hour set last night at the Capital Centre, Styx dazzled its audience with a carefully orchestrated performance that was for the most part, controlled yet powerful.

The three solo moments of the show -- Tommy Shaw with an acoustic guitar solo, John Panozzo with a drum solo spot in "Renegade" and Dennis DeYoung with a solo piano intro to "Lady" -- were particularly stunning.

The lighting and other visual effects were generally tasteful although things got carried away a little towards the end with a pointless pantomime by De Young that teased and prolonged the end of "Come Sail Away."

Unfortunately, Styx's music often sounds derivative, especially of Queen. Queen, in turn, is derivative of others. Unless this band grows in a more original direction, they may be domed to Stygian limbo.