This Grand Illusion album has everything a die-hard melodic rocker would ever want in under a hours worth of listening. Lovers of big keyboards, slabs of guitars and Mormon choir-like vocal harmony arrangements will get the ultimate kick out of this album.
Written by: gdmonline
ARTIST: Grand Illusion
ALBUM: View From The Top
LABEL: Escape Music
SERIAL: ESM 076
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Sweden
LINEUP: Anders Rydholm – guitars, bass, keyboards * Peter Sundell – lead vocals * Per Svensson – vocals * Christian Sundell – drums * Ola Karlsson – lyrics
TRACK LISTING: 01 I Refuse * 02 Battle For Your Heart * 03 Zeroes And Ones * 04 The Prophecy Of The Returning Son * 05 Between Dark And Dawn * 06 Straight Face * 07 Gotta Give It Up * 08 Who’s It Gonna Be * 09 Positively Negative * 10 Blinded * 11 Itch In My Brain
WEBLINKS: Site Link
For all melodic rockers the name ‘Grand Illusion’ is usually associated with the US band Styx. With this Swedish bunch you’d be wanting to make the same musical comparison right? Well don’t. These ‘Illusionists’ make Styx look like hacks, while musically, they are on another plane, a higher and better one at that.
‘View From The Top’ is a bit of prog, AOR and pomp, all bundled into one delicious slice of music. Not having heard this lot before (apologies for that Khalil), I wasn’t sure what I’d be getting, but rest assured, this album borders on majestic, to the point of penetrating the realms of my most ‘memorable musical experiences’.
This is their third album, that is if you count their prior work under the banner Promotion, following on from ‘In The Beginning’ and ‘The Book Of How To Make It’. Looking at a backcover shot of the guys, at first appearance they all look as if they work for some corporate company – along the lines of a software house, such is their ‘mature’ look and casual attire. Who’d think they’d be releasing an aural gem like ‘View From The Top’?
Most of the work has been put together by multi-instrumentalist Anders Rydholm, including writing the music, arranging and producing the whole thing. You could say that Anders is the brains-trust behind Grand Illusion. Of course you’re gonna ask me for comparisons? Well, for starters, Terra Nova circa ‘Livin’ It Up’ is the obvious choice – fast paced songs, crunching guitars, synth, organ and piano layers and the Fred Hendrix like vocals.
Other comparisons knock at the door of bands like Kharma and Talk Of The Town, the latter particularly for some of the vocal choruses a la Thomas Vikstrom. Are you drooling yet? You should be.
The lead-in to ‘I Refuse’ is an organ-based sequence which permeates through the rest of the track, with massive drums and guitars coming in over the top. When those vocal harmonies hit, it’s like a sonic cacophonic chorus. How can you refuse such music? Better yet, the utterly captivating ‘Battle For Your Heart’ penned by Heartland‘s Chris Ousey. Lyrically mystical and full of hope, musically magical.
If there was an ever an ode to the monopoly that is Microsoft Corporation it’s the track ‘Zeroes And Ones’ (a certain quip to binary?). The lyrics are especially clever, ‘zeroes and ones gonna take us there, open up your amazing Gates into Seattle, God lives in Seattle, for sure’. Apart from the Microsoft reference, the song is gorgeous.
The ballad ‘Between Dark And Dawn’ is exquisite, this is the one Terra Nova should’ve done. For all Kharma fans check out ‘Gotta Give It Up’, those stabbing piano lines a la Atilla Szabo will have you reaching for your nearest ‘Wonderland’ CD.
The straight ahead rush that is ‘Who’s It Gonna Be’ touches on Talisman while the pairing of ‘Positively Negative’ and ‘Blinded’ carry on the impressive sound heard already, again Terra Nova comparisons wafting across the speakers.
On the whole, this is the most impressive release from Escape this year (IMHO). For eleven tracks the strength of the material is evident from the outset. I don’t usually like to give plaudits unduly, but the old cliche ‘give credit where credit is due’ applies liberally to Grand Illusion in this case.
It has everything a die-hard melodic rocker would ever want in under a hours worth of listening. Lovers of big keyboards, slabs of guitars and Mormon choir-like vocal harmony arrangements will get the ultimate kick out of this album. Be sure to contact your nearest CD Distributor with credit card in hand. Don’t delay.
Battle For Your Heart
Between Dark And Dawn