Tuesday, February 9, 2016

KHYMERA: ”The Grand Design”

Rating: RRRR
Label: Frontiers 2016
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Yes, I got excited when I heard that producer/singer Dennis Ward was working on a new Khymera album. The previous one (”The Greatest Wonder”) was released in 2008, and was one of the finest albums of that year. The excitement turned into doubt when it was revealed that he had taken over the songwriting as well. The magic touch of the Martin brothers (Vega, Sunstorm, Ted Poley etc) was all over the two previous Khymera albums and I had no idea what kind of songs Ward could come up with. I shouldn’t have worried.

”The Grand Design” is a natural successor to the earlier albums released under the Khymera name. Ward’s songs are melodic, atmospheric and very ”Khymerastic” indeed. What’s more, his lyrics aren’t always just those ”usual phrases one after another”.

Let’s go through the songs quickly. The opener ”Never Give Up On You” is actually one of the more ordinary songs on the album. It’s nice, uptempo and kind of catchy, but somehow it sounds like a tribute to Journey. The darker ”Tell Me Something” appeals more to me with its’ rumbling bass line, subtle keys and a killer hook. The balladic ”Say What You Want” is another gem with a little bit of House Of Lords vibe. The lighter ”I Believe” has some fine melodies and stadium-sized chorus. Something makes me think that ”Keep The Faith”-era Bon Jovi could have turned this into a smash hit.

The ”dut-dut” keys of ”A Night To Remember” get an instant thumbs up from me, and the rest of the songs isn’t half bad either! Superb pre-chorus leads into equally fine main chorus. ”She’s Got The Love” is the song that reminds me most of the previous album, and that’s not a bad thing at all.

Dennis Ward does a fine David Coverdale impression on ”Land Of Golden Dreams”. A good song but not one of my favorites for some reason. The title track is one of them though, a bit Autograph-like song with a cool chorus - it sounds like the band goes into hyperdrive during it! ”Streetlights” is the Big Ballad of the album, and it took a few spins to grow but now it’s among the highlights.

”Who’s Fooling Who”, ”Finally” and ”Where Is The Love” are all good songs too, but maybe they’re missing that extra spark that would take them to the highest level.

As much as I like this album, it’s maybe one or two killer tracks short of the full RRRRRating. Still, a Top Ten place for 2015 is pretty much guaranteed.


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