KHYMERA – The Grand Design
The latest album from Khymera comes seven years after their last effort "The Greatest Wonder" – as bassist/vocalist Dennis Ward decides to take the reign on songwriting and production side as Italian musician Daniele Liverani steps aside. Not really surprising that we have high quality, melodic rock tour de force work through these 12 cuts – the man’s resume is off the charts. Surrounding himself with seasoned musicians such as Edguy’s Felix Bohnke on drums, Michael Klein on guitar, Eric Ragno on keyboards, plus Jim Rybkost on piano/ additional keyboards, there are no worries that the parts are covered so that Dennis can put extra effort into strong melodies, choruses, and harmony elements.
Everything about "The Grand Design" screams of the 1980’s – a period when uplifting tempos, simultaneous back and forth keyboard/guitar hooks hit you aurally while the smooth as silk choruses stay embedded in the brain forever. Giuffria, Bad English, Survivor, and the almighty Journey resonate the most when taking in the bright opener "Never Give Up On You", sultry "She’s Got the Love", or mid-tempo toe-tapper "Who’s Fooling Who". Michael has ample opportunity to flash some heavier lead break chops – walking the tightrope between servicing the needs of the arrangements while letting loose in some killer shred moments (check out "Tell Me Something" for both aspects), and Eric even channels a bit of Journey/ "Ask the Lonely" influence in one of my favorites for the record "A Night to Remember".
Dennis Ward has a solid range made for AOR and melodic rock – never stretching beyond comfort zones, he’s able to be gritty and bluesy in places and graceful in others. The ballads "Say What You Want" and "Streetlights" allow the listener to enjoy his lower range and gliding nature from verses to chorus that can bring relationships together or cause people to share a tear for tenderness. Add in proper attention to clear sonic values on Dennis’ production end which adds the cherry on top of an already delectable platter.
Let’s not wait seven more years for another Khymera album – "The Greatest Wonder" is amazing and proof again that European oriented melodic rock today is just as vibrant and exciting as the scene was 30 years ago.