by Nikiforos Skoumas
Staff Writer –
If you are into pompous melodic rock/AOR built on ambitious arrangements and performed to perfection then you probably have come across the Swedish-American group called Grand Illusion. Prince of Paupers is the brand new fifth studio album by the AOR powerhouse and their second since their reformation in 2009 and the subsequent comeback album Brand New World.
In the process of putting the album together founding members, lead singer Peter Sundell, vocalist Per Svensson and bassist/keyboardist Anders Rydholm once again joined forces with US-based musicians Gregg Bissonette (drums) and Tim Pierce (guitars).
The two had performed on the previous album and in the process developed into key contributors to the sound of Grand Illusion; On Prince of Paupers there is more of a team spirit rather than session performances brought together on a project basis. While Rydholm is credited for composing the album in its entirety, guitarists Tim Pierce and Muris Varajic added guitar melodies and solos of their own, in the same way that Bissonette induced his ever-evolving and catchy ‘80s-oriented drum patterns. Add to the above the orchestral arrangements of master composer Paul Buckman on the symphonic songs and you have a melodic rock/AOR album that strands out by any measure.
Those new to the band can be assured that one can not ask for lengthier melodies from this Swedish outfit as they provide the ultimate in musical harmony. Every vocal melody, every guitar line and keyboard harmony are extended for maximum effect while also being backed by complementary/background arrangements which further intensify the final product.
Their ability of switching between minor(sad) and major(happy) melodies/scales is indescribable and you have to get a taste of such songs as “St. Teresa’s love”, “Eyes of Ice”, “Prince of Paupers” and the unsurpassable symphonic rock opus that is “Gates of Fire”.
If you are looking for a band that made it their business to push the boundaries of melodic rock/AOR while staying true to its principles, then Grand Illusion is indeed that group and their new album Prince of Paupers shows no evidence of slowing down; ambitious to say the least.
Genre: Technical Melodic Rock, Pomp AOR
Anders Rydholm – keyboards, bass, rhythm guitars
Peter Sundell – lead and background vocals
Per Svensson – lead and background vocals
Gregg Bissonette – drums
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 arrangmentrs and synths on 1
1. Gates of Fire
2. Better Believe It
3. Prince of Paupers
4. So Faraway
5. St Teresas Love
6. Through This War
7. Eyes of Ice
9. Believe in Miracles
10. On and On
11. Under The Wire
12. Winds of Change
Label: AOR Heaven
Hardrock Haven rating: 9/10