Out now on AOR Heaven

Sixth release from Swedish melodic metal outfit Grand Illusion yet I must admit my first taste and rather impressed I am too.  Ice cool Scandinavian tones are littered throughout with some mind-blowing lush vocal arrangements from the dual vocal prong of Peter Sundell and Per Svensson  (with the lyrics written by Arlene Matza-Jackson), whilst the bulk of the music is written, performed and produced by Anders Rydholm (keyboards, bass, rhythm guitars).

Throw into the mix guitar solos by Steve Lukather (Toto), Tim Pierce (Rick Springfield, Micheal Jackson, Phil Collins), Jay Graydon (Airplay, Manhattan Transfer, Air Supply), Muris Varajic (a Bosnian guitarist and a real find) and Robert Säll and the whole package is more or less complete, aside from some extremely well done orchestrations.  This is a big sound for sure, with excellent arrangements and a great production.

Granted fans of the true metal might well guffaw at the melodic approach of Grand Illusion but those that appreciate well crafted and performed rock music will find an awful lot to enjoy on “Prince Of Paupers”.

Highlights are plentiful but “Gates Of Fire”, “Prince Of Paupers”, “Eyes Of Ice” and “On And On” are amongst the pick of the bunch for me.  Fans of the likes of Styx will get a big kick out of this, but then I hear some parallels in a more pompous way with fellow countrymen Nation in a lot of the big vocal arrangements. Fans of 1987 era Whitesnake will undoubtedly get something out of this – the sound though is always more European than American so keep that in mind.

Overall this makes me very keen to check out the back catalogue and its easily the best thing I have heard in a long time from AOR Heaven.

Melodic rock fans, add this to your shopping carts without delay.

Rating – 90%