KHYMERA - The Grand Design (Review)

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Produced By: 
Dennis Ward
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Friday, December 4, 2015
Like an overblown Jim Steinman Masterpiece, the new rougher, tougher Khymera explodes with the glorious symphony of 80s keyboards and Euro-AOR guitars that is the feisty rocker Never Give Up On You.
This is a slightly different Khymera than we last heard. Dennis Ward is the only constant through all the 4 releases, joined on this occasion by Eric Ragno on keyboards (an inspired choice); Michael Klein on guitars; Felix Bohnke on drums.
Dennis Ward has the prominent writer’s role here – involved in all twelve, with half co-written with Paul Logue (Eden’s Curse).
It’s a slightly heavier Khymera here, and slightly rawer, with Dennis’ vocals definitely turning up the rasp. But other than that, it’s classic Khymera all the way – that is, European, commercial melodic Rock and 80s AOR.
One big chorus after another – all bathed in layers of keyboards, guitars and harmonies.
At this point in time I’m leaning towards this being the best of the Khymera albums to date.
The quality of the songs simply demand it.
Never Give Up On You is one of the catchiest anthems of the year; Say What You Want is a classic old-meets-new rock ballad; I Believe is fast and free flowing AOR; A Night To Remember is straight out of the White Sister playbook, with 80s synth dominating.
Land Of Golden Dreams has a strong, dramatic Gary Hughes/Ten mood to it; The Grand Design goes into overdrive and Streetlight is one of the more lush, emotional ballads of the year.
Who’s Fooling Who is another highlight – perfect moody, uptempo AOR here.
Closing the album is the big piano ballad Where Is The Love, featuring a very soulful vocal.

What can one say? Three very strong AOR releases in one month by the same label – Frontiers. And all pretty much essential.
But if there’s going to be a pecking order, this just comes out on top.
Terrific old school AOR without sounding dated or repetitive.

KHYMERA Back With 'The Grand Design' December 4

Release Year: 
Friday, December 4, 2015
The return of the KHYMERA Project - fully in the hands of Dennis Ward
New album 'The Grand Design' out in December on Frontiers
Frontiers Music Srl is excited to announce the release of the fourth album of the KHYMERA project entitled “The Grand Design”, on December 4 in Europe and North America.
While the KHYMERA project started out as an alliance between Italian producer/musician, Daniele Liverani and then KANSAS singer Steve Walsh, it actually developed into a regular musical project when Pink Cream 69/Unisonic bassist and producer Dennis Ward came into the picture.
While known as a bass player, Dennis always sings background vocals with his bands, so it was quite interesting for many fans to hear his voice taking the lead on the Khymera albums “A New Promise” and “The Greatest Wonder”. While the project went on hiatus for some time, it was a natural choice now for Dennis to grab the reins and take complete control (both on the songwriting – together with Paul Logue and Michael Klein - and on the production side) of the new album, “The Grand Design”, which comes 7 years after the release of “The Greatest Wonder”.
“Everything changed this time!” says Dennis Ward. “First of all there were no songs written by outside writers, just the people involved in the recordings and Paul.  I wrote all the melodies and lyrics this time, something I had not done on the previous KHYMERA albums, but regardless it was a very comfortable working situation.”
The band is also totally “new”. Other than Ward, no other old members performed on the album. “I was on tour playing with Unisonic in Europe and Japan” tells Dennis, “we had a double headlining bill with Edguy and I was really impressed by Felix Bohnke’s drumming.  He’s a fan of AOR and was more than happy to participate to the new KHYMERA album, which was great because his style fits so well. Whilst collaborating on one song with Paul Logue (EDEN’S CURSE), he came up with an idea to have a certain type of choir in the song which he worked out with Pete Newdeck.  I was so impressed by the choirs Pete made and how they fit to my voice that I asked him to be Khymera’s “backing vocalist”. His choir ideas greatly impacted the entire outcome of the album.   
“A couple songs ideas that Paul Logue presented had beautiful pianos in them,” continues Dennis.  “I too had a piano song and asked Paul who played his piano parts in. He told me of Jim Rykbost, whom I’ve never worked with.  Jim is a down to earth Piano player, not just a keyboarder. With all due respect to many pop/rock keyboarders the true art of playing the Piano seems to get lost these days. Jim had the feel and the mood I was looking for and took the songs to another level. Since I also needed keys I quickly got into contact with Eric Ragno, someone I’ve worked with in the past and has so much experience and class in AOR.  I love his modern approach to building AOR keyboard parts.”
Musically, the new album very much follows along the logical progression of the musical path that was started a few years ago. “The Grand Design” is a strong, extremely melodic release, which showcases the fantastic vocal abilities of Dennis and highlights his great skills as a songwriter and producer.
“The Grand Design” truly offers one of the most shining examples of what great European Melodic Rock is all about: crystal clear production, soaring vocals, killer musicianship and songwriting that reminds fans of the heydays of the genre when bands like Giuffria, Icon, and Signal ruled the airwaves.
“The Grand Design” tracklisting includes: Never Give Up On You; Tell Me Something; Say What You Want; I Believe; A Night To Remember; She’s Got The Love; Land Of Golden Dreams; The Grand Design; Streetlights; Who’s Fooling Who; Finally; Where Is The Love.
Enjoy the new album trailer here:
Dennis Ward: bass guitar and lead vocals
Felix Bohnke: drums
Michael Klein: guitars
Eric Ragno: keyboards
Jim Rybkost: piano, additional keyboards
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