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Apple Pie - Crossroad CD (album) cover


Apple Pie



3.82 | 120 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
3 stars APPLE PIE was one of those bands that looked far away from where its members were raised. This band was formed by Vartan Mkhitaryan in the city of Kursk, Russia which is located not too far from the Ukrainian border in the southwestern part of Russia. While many bands from the former Iron Curtain have emerged since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, many have adopted some of the homegrown folk elements and other styles unique to the Slavic nations however others totally looked westward for inspiration and if the name doesn't give it away immediately, it's obvious that APPLE PIE looked to the USA for its inspiration.

And by that i mean that APPLE PIE created the perfect fusion of Neal Morse era Spock's Beard with that unmistakable style of symphonic prog including Mkhitaryan's dead ringer vocal style for Neal Morse along with the occasional bombastic heft and technical wizardry of Dream Theater. In some ways on this debut release CROSSROAD, the band sounds a bit like Transatlantic which found both Neal Morse and Mike Portney cross-pollinating their respective bands' styles into lengthier knotty whirlwinds of sonic prog splendor so as i'm listening to this i keep thinking they should have named themselves Trans-Siberian Railway! But that would miss the point when your shtick is to imitate your other-side-of-the-world prog heroes!

To put it bluntly, this album is about as derivative as it can possible get. If you told me this was a long lost Morse album or even a Spock's Beard archival release, i'd totally believe it was. In fact i keep wondering if this band is just a pseudonym for a Morse project it's so convincing! I mean everything about this resembles a Morse album. It has a mutltiide of tracks that sprawl on to over 77 minutes of play time. It takes cheery pop hooks and crafts them into massive prog workouts with alternating atmospheric acoustic guitars segments morphing into heavy rock where jagged guitar riffs find keyboard antics jumping around like loose fireworks and then resolution with dreamy soft spoken bliss bombs and then a few deviations into some sort of weird unrelated style of music.

On CROSSROAD you will be treated to an amazing display of musicianship especially when the Dream Theater references are left off their leash. Vartan Mkhitaryan provides lead vocals, guitars and percussion. Alexey BIlden plays bass and saxophone. Oleg Sergeev provides keyboards and Andrey Golodukhin is the drummer. This quartet really has done their prog homework and delivers an impressive deliver of symphonic prog with a few metal elements bursting into the scene at key moments but mostly this one is on the mellower side with soft passages leading up to the noisier climaxes. In addition to the dominant Morse and Dream Theater influences, APPLE PIE does offer doses of Flower Kings, Pink Floyd and the surprising jump blues jazz of 'Temptation' which shuffles more like the Diablo Swing Orchestra minus the operatic diva, so the album's not an entire ripoff by any means.

While it's easy to be too critical of a band taking too many liberties of borrowing another band's stylistic approach to the point where it sounds like an eerie clone, i have to remember that APPLE PIE formed in a fairly isolated part of Eastern Europe and i'm positive the bands they worship have never set foot anywhere near where they are from as even Moscow is hundreds of kilometers away. It sounds like this band would be more of a treat to see in a live setting and provides the next best thing to a prog hungry part of the world that gets forgotten on all those prog festival circuits. CROSSROAD is indeed an impressive album musically speaking as all the members have mastered their craft in a most admirable way but they at this point anyway have failed to find their own identity which is a problem for me at least. Definitely a band that has a lot of potential and this album invites me to explore their second album which actually finds guest musicians like Derek Sherinian joining in. As for this one, it's really good but not what i'd call essential.

3.5 rounded down

siLLy puPPy | 3/5 |


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