Exit Stage Left is a brand new act on the progressive rock horizon. They took their group name from the second live album Exit...Stage Left by Canadian progressive rock group Rush. This Swedish four-piece formation started in 2019 and consists of singer-guitarist Arvid Wilhelmsson, bassist Robin Hellsing, keyboard player Daniel Lyngsaa Larson and drummer Jimmy Svahn.
It is the music of the earlier mentioned Rush, Yes, Deep Purple, Genesis and Pink Floyd that influenced and inspired them to record their fine debut album Appleberry Trees. But we also hear influences from their fellow countrymen of The Flower Kings and Moon Safari. All ten tracks on this concept album are written by Wilhelmsson, in which the story of a man's life is followed from start to finish with all the positive and negative experiences. Therefore you could say that story of Appleberry Trees is the story of a life journey. It's about growing up, spreading your wings, and even though things don't work out the way you hoped, you're still thankful for the journey you've been on. You can hear right from the start that all of the ten tracks are performed by very skilled musicians and sound very melodious. They show a naive yet cautious view of life. The band is certainly not afraid to tell some strong colourful stories. Some songs deal with the heavy dualities of man. Good examples are Good People and Shine Through. While others, such as Vagabond's Respite and The Poet touch on the more wondrous parts of life.
There is no doubt that the music of Exit Stage Left is complex, multi-layered, energetic and most of all very melodic with strong vocals and great solos performed on the guitars and synthesizers. It's rather difficult to mention any musical highlights on their first release. Because all of the ten tracks are of the same high level. No weak parts discovered. I just enjoyed each song very much. The musical standard and performance of their songs is of a very high calibre without any doubt.
This strong debut is certainly a must have album for most lovers of progressive rock who enjoy the music released by bands such asThe Flower Kings and Moon Safari. You can say that Appleberry Trees is a balanced and well-made album that will surely satisfy all fans of the progressive genre in general. I am already looking forward to all of their upcoming releases and to see them someday performing their strong material in front of a live audience. Well done indeed!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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