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Articles Home » 2011 Articles » Grand Illusion - 2011 Prince Of Paupers
Grand Illusion - 2011 Prince Of Paupers

ARTIST: Grand Illusion
ALBUM: Prince Of Paupers
YEAR: 2011


LINEUP: Anders Rydholm - keyboards, bass, rhythm guitars * Peter Sundell - lead and background vocals * Per Svensson - lead and background vocals * Gregg Bissonette - drums

Guests: Steve Lukather - guitar solo on 4 * Jay Graydon - guitar solo on 2 * Tim Pierce - rhythm guitars and guitar solos on 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12 * Muris Varajic - guitar solo on 1, 3, 7, 9, 11 * Robert Säll - guitar solo on 13 * Paul Buckmaster - orchestral arrangments, synths on 1 * Kjell Klaesson - acoustic guitar on 9 * Staffan Stavert - keyboards on 10, 13

TRACK LISTING: 01 Gates Of Fire * 02 Better Believe It * 03 Prince Of Paupers * 04 So Faraway * 05 St Teresa's Love * 06 Through This War * 07 Eyes Of Ice * 08 Gone * 09 Believe In Miracles * 10 On And On * 11 Under The Wire * 12 Winds Of Change * 13 Not For Sale (Japanese bonus)



Last years 'Brand New World' release from Swedish grandmasters Grand Illusion saw a lot of preliminary excitement. As it was, the band were on a return from hiatus, a six year break taken in between times. Personally, I thought the album was very good but was missing something. I couldn't quite put a finger on it, despite there being two genuine classic songs on the album in 'Never Find Her Alone' and 'Forever With You'. It wasn't long after the release of the album that we saw the GI boys depart for Los Angeles during August 2010 to prepare for this latest edition: 'Prince Of Paupers'. Some of the advance songwriting and preparation occurred in L.A during last years Northern Hemisphere summer break, but by years end the band were taking the stage at the 2010 Firefest Festival in Nottingham England. Singer Peter Sundell suffered sever health issues and as a consequence lost his singing voice for a period of time. It wasn't until early in 2011 that he was fit enough to continue on. Much like 'Brand New World', the line-up for this latest CD is a West Coasters wet dream. Names like Lukather, Graydon, Pierce and S„ll all being involved is enough to get the most ardent WC supporter all tied up in knots. No two ways about it, the songs here are very strong, and I'll go out on a limb and say they are back to the sort of form that made their 2002 classic 'View From The Top' an automatic entry into my top 10 albums of the decade.

The Songs
It's a bold pompous beginning, as 'Gates Of Fire' opens its wrought-iron structure, the powerful soundscape which lies beyond providing a confident start for these Swedish maestros. Second track 'Better Believe It' is a return to the GI form of old. With Jay Graydon on lead guitar, this song is an absolute stormer, glorious harmony vocals and Jay's solo is totally off the radar! The tinker-tap piano entrance for 'Prince Of Paupers' makes way for some aggressive guitar work from young Bosnian guitar hot-shot Muris Varajic, on what is a very up-tempo track. Toto fans will appreciate the presence of Steve Lukather for the semi-ballad 'So Faraway', complete with huge vocal parts from Sundell and Svensson. Luke's solo is very dense and emotion-packed as we've come to expect from one of the genre greats. Perhaps the purist AOR track on the album would be 'St Teresa's Love', with its synth parts, pulsing bass lines and a generally commercial feel. Nice track. Gotta love the big operatic vocals leading into 'Through This War', the booming voice of Per Svensson coupled with Sundell's tenor make for the greatest vocal pairing in melodic rock, and their combination is there for all to see and hear. Feel the dramatic sensations of 'Eyes Of Ice', this one touches on a heavier (near prog metal) sound thick with dense riffs and even denser opera vocals. 'Gone' features a punchy delivery and is mostly upbeat melodic rock. Eventually GI give us a lush ballad, and 'Believe In Miracles' is the result, and it's another winner, and right up there with the likes 'Dark And Dawn' from 'View From The Top'. For a dose of 80's styled hard rock, 'On And On' is big on Tim Pierce's beefy guitar work and is ultimately a tougher hard drivin' track. Reverting to a hard/symphonic arrangement for 'Under The Wire', the metronome ticks over in quick time though this track didn't grab me like the others did. However, GI finish up the album with the impressive 'Winds Of Change', the acoustic/electric hybrid is quite beautiful actually, and swings away in anthemic fashion. The solo from Tim Pierce is very tasty too! Work Of Art's Robert Säll makes an appearance on 'Not For Sale', the Japanese bonus track for the CD, but unfortunately I wasn't able to hear it due to having the European version of this album.

In Summary
All in all, this is an exciting album, and I am feeling much better about Grand Illusion than I did a year ago. The recipe hasn't changed, but the songs are convincing, and the arrangements are suitably bold, overblown (in a good way that only pomp rock fans can appreciate), lush and dynamic. Pluses for me are the continued strength of those amazing operatic vocals and choir like approach to choruses and all vocal duos, sublime guitar work from all involved, and of course one can't forget the contribution that drummer Gregg Bissonette brings to the project. World class line-up, that deliver suitably terrific songs worthy of their pedigree.

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#1 | gdazegod on October 16 2011 04:45:13
YouTube Video:
#2 | gdazegod on October 16 2011 04:48:53
YouTube Video:
#3 | george_the_jack on October 17 2011 23:17:14
This is simply the most anticipated album for me for the year 2011. I've come accross many illegal downloads and versions of the album so far but,instead, I'm waiting for my copy patiently.. These guys are geniuses.
#4 | george_the_jack on November 24 2011 00:21:32
My Korean version(bonus track included) is on the way to my stereo! Grabbed it at a very reasonable price compared to the price of the Japanese vesrion. Rediculously enough, the Korean and Japanese versions are identical to each other.... Can't wait!
#5 | george_the_jack on December 13 2011 16:28:44
YouTube Video:
#6 | gdazegod on December 13 2011 21:20:41
Lots of finger pointing and arm waving from Paul Buckmaster. Excellent stuff. Thumbs Up
#7 | george_the_jack on December 13 2011 21:38:42
A true conductor! The ending note of the melody as the arrangement gets to its peak is giving me shivers! The conlusion on the word 'fi-re', that specific note is MAGIC! This is what music is all about!
#8 | roadrunner158 on September 10 2012 14:40:11
Massive release. Grand Illusion have outdone themselves with this CD.
#9 | richardb on February 20 2014 19:00:56
Ditto all of the above. A superlative release and pomp rock fan's delight...

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