Reviews August/02

Grand Illusion / View from the Top / Escape Music ESM076


Grand Illusion - a MONSTER AOR-release! Tracklisting:I refuse; Battle for your Heart; Zeroes and ones; The Prophercy of the returning Son; Between Dark and Dawn; Straight Face; Gotta give it up; Who's it gonna be; Positively negative; Blinded; Itch in my Brain.

Grand Illusion has always been able to touch THAT significant Scandinavian tune - already when the were known as Promotion and were more WestCoast orientated. Their debut as Grand Illusion they had last year and with a new record label to back it up in Escape Records this turned out to be one of the most inspired, fantastic, hookladen and melodic albums in my collection - an all time favorite of mine!
The new album "View from the Top" is a logic follow up - the band featuring Anders Rydholm on guitar, bass and keyboards, Peter Sundell on vocals, Per Svensson on vocals, Christian Sundell on drums and Ola Karlsson delivering the lyrics by the way supported by Heartland vocalist Chris Ousey on "Battle for your heart" - and special guest stars like Heartland's Steve Morris on guitar and Peter Coleman on bagpipes.
The most impressing thing about Grand Illusion is the combination of great melodies and such fantastic vocalists and players - it a masterpiece. With killer tracks like "Itch in my Brain" where Peter Sundell reaches notes that is cutting glass! But also "Blinded", "Gotta give it up" and "I refuse" is giving Toto/Styx grey hair. But like other Scandinavian acts throughout time there is always place for a heart-wrenching ballad (... or two as a matter of fact) - "Between Dark and Dawn" and "Positively negative" are both classic melodic ballads.
As you can read in this review it is hard to find some bad to say about this album - last year Grand Illusion gave us "The Book of how to make It" and this year they have a well earned "View from the Top" ... and as the state in the press material ".. but they will never forget their roots or the reason they started playing; for a huge love of great, powerful and melodic rock music." You are damn right, here!

Winter Parade / Midnight In Paradise / MTM 0681-51


Winter Parade - The vintage Scaninavian sound! Tracklisting:Meteor Rain; Save me tonight; Days of our Lives; Symbol of Love; Midnight in Paradise; This Game of Life; It's just another Day; Valentines Day; Rain on my Parade; Steamin'.

Winter Parade was until now an unknown chapter in Norwegian melodic rock to me! But this is definitely over - because this melodic act takes off where bands like TNT and Stagedolls ended in the end of the 80's.
According to the press material Dice Jacobsen on guitars, P.B. Riise on bass and Mr. Howe on keyboards started out back in 1986 in a band called Pinoccio - but the band never got really off ground and disbanded. In 1999 P.B. contacted his old band mated - he had already found drummer Terry Follin - and they just needed a good vocalist, and they found Björn Westum in the Norwegian edition of Starsearch, where he did a great performance of Bon Jovi's "Dead or alive".
Winter Parade has a good reference to american acts like Diving for Pearls and/or Company of Wolves - a good sense of melodies and some excellent musicians to back it up - and in this case some great keyboard sounds and choir work to finish it off! There are a lot of memorable tracks here - the intrumental hors d'euvre "Meteor Rain" is a bit thrashy and hard hitting but already first track "Save me tonight" is a tour de force in powerful, melodic, Scandinavian hard rock and that goes on for the whole album.
On the inside cover noted the band states that: " The songs on this CD had never been written were it not for the likes of Journey, Richard Marx, Van Halen, Queensrÿche, Y&T, Boston, Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake and ABBA." And that is so true!
Here is a great melodic rock album from Norway - at last!

Aquila / Say Yeah / Starlight Record Company


Aquila - Fred Hendrix from Terra Nova's new project! Tracklisting:Say Yeah; Cecelia; Wide open; Forgive me; Young and Restless; Nothings impossible now; Everyday; Sometimes; I share it with you; The kids wanna rock; Busted; I run; The End; Where is the Sun.

Aquila is build around Fred Hendrix from Dutch prog rockers Terra Nova. In 2000 the band broke up due to problems with their Dutch record company. But vocalist/guitarist Fred Hendrix refused to give up and he formed Aquila - together with Ron Hendrix on organ/keyboards and Fred Derix on drums.
The musical style on this album is guitar driven, melodic heartland rock with an excellent prodution and good melodies and a classic hoarse male voice - not unlike a rocking John Cougar Mellencamp. Often it starts with an acustic guitar that turns electric - for excemple on tracks like my favorite "Wide open" and the classic "Young and restless" with a massive organ intro - great!
Aquila has played the Swedish Baltic Song Festival this July and will join the Gods festival in the U.K. in November - so keep an eye and an ear open for this great singer/songwriter with such a great potential - his guitar work in general and him being so true to the melodic roots deserves some attention - "Say Yeah" is one of the best independent releases (and musical statements) this year so far!

© Steen Peitersen 1999-2002