Why it only seems like last year since I was slavering away about "Brand New World", the comeback album from Grand Illusion, saying "it might not be as individual as their earlier material, but it's rock straight out of the top drawer; an essential album for melodic rock fans." And that's because it was only last year. So, rather than six years between records, they've managed to get this one sorted in a mere 18 months. Good work, fellas.
This time around, the Swedish trio took themselves off to America, and recorded the album in Los Angeles, bringing in some weel kent faces to add to the songs. So, say hallo to Gregg Bissonette (David Lee Roth), Steve Lukather (Toto), Jay Graydon (Manhattan Transfer, Air Supply) and Tim Pierce (Rick Springfield). Anders Rydholm, Peter Sundell and Per Svensson then set about refining the songs they'd prepared, to the twelve tunes I've just finished listening to. And, I'm pleased to say, that the swift turnaround hasn't affected the quality, as this is an absolutely cracking release. Yes, it's more of the same, but when the same is as good as this, then who cares.
It's simply dripping in class, with a spot on mix of melody and pomp, allied to some great guitar riffs. That's when they're not getting their ballad on, as they do magnificently on 'Believe In Miracles' and 'So Faraway'. For me, the highlight is 'Gates Of Fire' which has an orchestral arrangement from arranger/conductor Paul Buckmaster (Elton John, David Bowie), and is utterly pomptastic. Elsewhere, the likes of 'Eyes Of Ice' and 'Through This War' hit the melodic bullseye with ease. Some of the guitar solos are also worthy of mention, and it's guesting Bosnian guitarist Muris Varajic who seems to do most damage.
It's a fantastic album, and one that every self respecting melodic rock fan needs in their collection.