4 out of 5 Stars!
Swedish group Grand Illusion popped onto the AOR scene in 2001 after changing its name from the rather lame Promotion (which released two collections in the ’90s). Not sure what the Promotion albums sounded like (although probably similar since the band members didn’t change) but the freshly christened Grand Illusion released five beautifully produced albums in the new century, with Prince of Paupers being the most recent in 2011.
Similar in many ways to fellow countrymen H.E.A.T. or Bad Habit, Grand Illusion plays hard-driving AOR, with richly layered, pomp-sounding keyboards and fierce guitar leads, and features a vocalist that has an impressively wide range in the style of Tony Mills or Fergie Fredericksen, along with thick harmonies.
On Prince of Paupers, rollicking tunes such as “Gates of Fire,” “St. Theresa’s Love,” “On and On,” “Under the Wire,” “Through This War,” and the title track sit comfortably alongside several magnificent ballads such as “So Far Away” and “Believe in Miracles,” each song being a feast of melodies, with classy and bombastic charm.
All in all, this is blazing Pomp Rock in the same tradition as acts such as House of Lords, Sunstorm, White Heart, Find Me, Place Vendome, and Shy, as well as the aforementioned H.E.A.T. and Bad Habit, and highly recommended for fans of the genre.