Art of Illusion
X Marks the Spot

Label: AOR Heaven
Three similar bands: Grand Illusion/Work Of Art/Lionville

Rating: HHHHHHH (5/7)
Reviewer: Daniel Källmalm
1. Wild and free
2. Run
3. My loveless lullaby
4. Waltz for the movies
5. 4 AM
6. Go
7. Snakebite charm
8. Let the games begin
9. A culinary detour
10. Catch you if I can
11. Rampant wildfire
12. Race against time

Lars Säfsund - vocals, keyboards
Anders Rydholm - keyboards, bass, rhythm guitar


Per Svensson - backing vocals
Frank 'Frallan' Nilsson - drums
Muris Varajic - guitar
Kristian Larsen - guitar
Jay Graydon - guitar
Pelle Holmberg - guitar
Daniel Rydholm - guitar
Tony Paoletta - steel guitar

Produced and arranged by Anders Rydholm & Lars Säfsund
Recorded and mixed in GodisPåScen, Växjo, Sweden 2016 – 2020 by Anders Rydholm.Additional recording by Lars Säfsund, Frank Nilsson, Muris Varajic, Jay Graydon, Kristian Larsen, Pelle Holmberg & Tony Paoletta.
Mastering by Frank Rosato, Woodcliff Studios, Sherman Oaks, USA

Released 2021-01-29
Reviewed 2021-01-08


läs på svenska

Indiana Jones says that X never marks the spot, but I am pretty sure that it does in terms of the debut album by Art of Illusion. It is a project by the Duo Anders Rydholm and Lars Säfsund, both highly accomplished musicians, Rydholm with the great band Grand Illusion that we have written very positively about, and Säfsund was probably latest with Lionville last year. They have found a dozen songs and enlisted some great musicians to record these into this debut album that they call X Marks the Spot that is an album with a very attractive cover – and very attractive music as well.

AOR is probably the overriding musical description of what we get to hear from Art of Illusion, but it is a bit more than that as they venture in many directions and it feels more adventurous than much of the AOR we get to hear. I hear some touches of Swedish progressive rocker A.C.T. to name one example, and also many traces of Rydholm’s band Grand Illusion. It sounds quite fresh and accessible, but with enough depth to give the album longevity. The sound is excellent, and I think that Säfsund sounds much better and way less tired than last time I heard him on the latest album by Lionville, he proves once again that he is a really good vocalist.

Excellent album with excellent tracks, and I think that it is one of the finest AOR/melodic rock albums I have heard in a while. It is an album that doesn’t really have any flaws worth mentioning and is so accessible that it should be liked by almost anyone who hears it, and while it is accessible it also has lots of depth and should last a very long time. You could say that the band hits the spot with this debut and I recommend that you have a closer look at it as it is one of those albums that should have a really wide appeal.

I guess they had that map where X marked the spot for several great songs that they combined into a great album, one of the better melodic rockers I have heard in a while. I think all the songs are good but perhaps the optimism rocker Go that should brighten up anyone in depressive times is worth mentioning, but I think there are many songs worth mentioning on this great and impressive album. In this case X really marks the spot, like it does in that film, and you should grab it as I am quite sure that you will find it well worth your time.