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Grand Illusion - 2010 Brand New World

ARTIST: Grand Illusion
ALBUM: Brand New World
YEAR: 2010


LINEUP: Peter Sundell - vocals * Per Svensson - vocals * Anders Rydholm - bass, keyboards, rhythm guitars * Greg Bissonette - drums, percussion * Tim Pierce - guitar solos * Danny Jacob - guitar solos * Mike Slamer - guitar solo (Track 3) * Roger Ljunggren - guitar solo (Tracks 9 & 11) * Kjell Klaesson - acoustic guitar (Track 12)

TRACK LISTING: 01 Never Find Her Alone * 02 All Out Of Love * 03 157th Breakdown * 04 Emily * 05 I'm Alive * 06 Burning Bed * 07 Brand New World * 08 Evil And Pain * 09 Warning Signs * 10 Playing With Fire * 11 Sacrifice * 12 Forever With You



It's been six years since the Swedish combo were last seen in public. 'Ordinary Just Won't Do' was their last effort, and since then, members went on to other projects. Peter Sundell sang with Northern Light and the band Code, while Anders Rydholm has worked with Japanese artist Demon Kogure. However, you can't keep a good band down for too long, and the creative juices started to run again, and by 2009, Grand Illusion were back in the groove. If you've been around GDAZE for a few months, you would have seen all the pre-production videos that Anders has put together as a lead-in to the new album 'Brand New World', which we've put up as featured videos. The principal trio of Rydholm, Sundell and Per Svensson have returned, and have been bolstered by an American based contingent of guitar greats Tim Pierce, Danny Jacobs and Mike Slamer, plus drummer Greg Bissonette.

The Songs
There's been a bit of hype around the release of the album. Is it as good as we all hoped it would be? The answer, sorry to say, is no. It's a very good album no question, and there are some sensational songs, a couple of them even go straight to my top of 2010 playlist. Opener 'Never Find Her Alone' and the awesome ballad 'Emily' are two of these. The choir vocals of both Sundell and Svensson are unrivalled in the AOR genre - in my opinion. 'All Out Of Love' has (dare I say it) commercial leanings, a nice track that doesn't sound too challenging musically. Upping the tempo is '157th Breakdown', this one sees Mike Slamer delivering the guitar lines with some unusual scales on the solo. 'I'm Alive' is a straight-ahead rocker with a thick but melodic chorus, 'Burning Bed' didn't quite grab me as a whole, the title track 'Brand New World' sees Sundell reach for those high notes, this one taking on a Toto like structure in places. From here on in, Grand Illusion take us in a heavier direction. 'Evil And Pain', 'Warning Signs' and 'Playing With Fire' all good, but somehow not hitting the mark with me. I'm not sure what it is. 'Sacrifice' is a little bit better, as is the finale ballad 'Forever With You', though you have to wait a good while (47 measures to be exact) to get to the good part, a Tim Pierce guitar solo of immense quality and some fantastic operatic vocals from Sundell and Svensson.

In Summary
What is the issue for me? The dynamics that Sundell and Svensson vocals bring to the songs don't quite fit the guitar heavy sound. For the most part, this sounded more like a melodic metal album, rather than the pompous near AOR sound that we heard back on their previous albums.. 'View From The Top' in particular. This was accentuated by the double bass drumming which added speed/tempo, plus the aforementioned guitar work. Look, I am more than happy to see Grand Illusion back in business, and some of these songs will get consistent airplay during 2010, but the album as a whole will not.

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#1 | george_the_jack on June 28 2010 16:07:39
One of the winners of 2010 for me! This is one of those albums that you have to listen to it several times in order to get fully involved with its arrangements.Not so 'straight forward' Pomp AOR as in the past indeed.Certainly GI deliver a heavier approach compared to what we were used to hear from them in their past releases.Vocal harmonies and musicianship are top notch as always and the production ideal!
#2 | roadrunner158 on June 30 2010 14:32:17
The review is spot on in my opinion. When listening to the CD for the first time, I was pretty disappointed, but it has grown on me. However, I still feel that the musical direction does not fit the vocals perfectly. Like it says in the review, I was expecting something different from Grand Illusion, more pompish AOR, not the heavier approach. Still, a very good effort.

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