December 14, 2022

I guess that most have already picked up on the supergroup that is Arc of Life but if it is a new name then all you really need to know is that they sound incredible like the progressive rock giants Yes. This is hardly surprising given the musicians involved with Jon Davison on vocals, Jimmy Haun on guitar, Billy Sherwood on bass and vocals, Dave Kerzner on keyboards and Jay Schellen on drums. Both Davison and Sherwood are current members of Yes with Davison taking over vocal duties in 2012 when he replaced Benoît David with Davison’s arrival being considerably easier than that of David and he was the one given the task of replacing the irreplaceable Jon Anderson! Having said that, Sherwood also had the equally daunting task of taking over from the giant of a man Chris Squire following his death in 2015. There truly was and only ever will be one Chris Squire and the world is much bleaker with him not in it! Sherwood is now in stage 2 of his Yes career given that he was a member of the band from 1997 to 2000 prior to his returning in 2015. To strengthen the Yes links even further we then have Schellen who is currently the Yes touring drummer as well as Haun who has done session work with the band and is also in Circa with Sherwood so it is obvious that the guys know each other very well and enjoy working together. Kerzner might not have the Yes credentials but he is most certainly a highly regarded and valued progressive rock musician having worked with the likes of Steven Wilson and Steve Hackett as well as Sound Of Contact plus numerous others too.

Putting everything together, it is rather obvious that they are going to produce sprawling, dense and multi-faceted progressive rock of epic proportions. The eponymous debut was released in 2021 and was something of an exploratory work as the band flexed its collective muscles in making an extraordinary prog rock album with several extended tracks showing that this was a band, like Yes, that enjoyed and relished working with themes and pushing them just that little bit further. Apologies for the overuse of the Yes word but it can hardly be ignored but these guys are not Yes clones as they are so closely involved with the band so Arc Of Light has to be considered as an off-shoot or tangent project with the musicians probably exploring themes just a little outside the usual core themes previously and currently being worked on by Yes. Don’t Look Down – great cover by the way – takes and builds on the work began with the debut with the new album featuring just the six tracks and all are extended works with the final title track being an expansive prog delight which clocks in just under the 18-minute mark. Not Close to The Edge by any means but most definitely a close cousin of that great work.

Indeed, much of the sound of the album and band is that of Yes and how could it be anything else but Arc Of Life has taken the legacy sound and developed and expanded it so that it becomes something new but of the same heritage and values but just on a new but parallel road. Davison has a beautiful and clear higher register voice that draws you into the world of Arc Of Life with Sherwood and team producing multi-layered music that works on so many levels with the production being bright and crystal clear so that you keep finding new points to note and marvel at within the music. The arrangements are stunning and interplay amazing as the band weaves a melodic and tantalising progressive tapestry that delivers and satisfies just about any prog rock requirement you have or ever had. We all know that epic is a much-overused word in all forms of music but particularly so in progressive rock but it is unavoidable given the complexity of the music and themes served up for us and it is a total pleasure to sit back and let the music wash over you in waves of pure pleasure.

To sum up, if you are a Yes fan then you will love the music that Arc Of Life serves up for us and they are not, repeat not, a Yes tribute band but they do pay homage to the quintessentially English prog band that Yes most definitely was and if this means that you can hear elements of the classic band sound, the voice of Jon Anderson, the bass of Chris Squire and the guitar of Steve Howe then accept it as a tribute to a team of musicians without parallels. The baton has not been passed on but rather both bands are running side by side in totally harmony. Accept it for what it is and you will have a great time developing with this new work from a new but classic band that has spawned from a group that is so much more than a cultural icon.

Don’t Look Down

  1.  Real Time World (9:05)
  2. Don’t Look Down (6:21)
  3. All Things Considered (5:16)
  4. Colors Come Alive (7:54)
  5. Let Live (6:25)
  6. Arc Of Life (17:43)