Those who can make any money, let alone a living out of reviewing are few and far between. The majority of writers are folks like your humble scribe who happen to be fans and want to spread the word of what is good, and maybe help inform folks of where to spend their money (no, I do not condone illegal file sharing as the massive pile of CDs I’m packing for a house move will attest to!). Normally music comes in the form of a download or occasional stream only link, and that is just the way of progress, so when a CD unexpectedly lands on the doormat it is a bit of a bonus, especially in the case of Grand Delusion’s ‘Supreme Machine’, seeing as it’s a good four months after the initial release date.
First impressions of this erstwhile unknown to me Swedish band based on the cover illustration of an owl flying over a fantasy landscape had me think a journey across the landscape of Prog was on the cards, but opener ‘Just Revolution’ was far from that, a fuzzy opening that more than hinted at a coming slow tsunami of stoner fog quickly speeding up with an almost groove-metal vibe complete with gang vocals over chorus and verse alike, a sound not normally associated with the friends of the leaf. ‘Mangrove Blues’ follows on with a thunderous bass and hard rock sound, far removed from the laid back sounds of the Bayou that the title might well suggest.
After the first two offerings, Grand Delusion prove I was at least in part right with the expectation of a bit of Prog in the form of the massive ‘Trail of the Seven Scorpions’, a title that sounds like it should be out of the ‘Blind Guardian book of Myth and Magic’ (warning, do not search on Amazon for the aforementioned book as it does not exist), but instead mashes together drawn out stoner jams, eighties metal, and meanderings into the epic realms of King Crimson with the jazz elements replaced by far heavier riffs. Midway through the twelve plus minutes the band even throw an almost pastoral string section break into the mix; if that isn’t Prog with a capital “P”, I don’t know what is. That may sound like a hellish mess, but the band somehow made it hold together and gel like it was written to be this way from the outset, not just cobbled together out of scraps as some bands sound.
Going off at another tangent, ‘Imperator’ throws in martial chants of battle metal over some metallic yet fuzzy riffs, whilst ‘Infinite’ adds in yet another element with some swirling keyboard work, whilst the whole thing is closed off with ‘Ghost of Widow McCain’ where a stoner sensibility mixes with the cocksure swagger of Southern rock, threaded through with a flavour of seventies Hammond organ goodness. Again, this sounds like it should be an unholy combination, but you know what, the band pulls it off.
Grand Delusion is clearly a band where the various members have a variety of influences, and are more than happy to bring them all out into the open through their music; indeed, the band promo shot with the four members sporting t-shirts by Graveyard, Iron Maiden, Helloween, and The Grateful Dead is practically a manifesto for their sound. Grand Delusion are not an act I’ve heard of before, but I’m rather glad that their most unexpected CD arrived here at Château Spenny. Give it a go folks, you may well like me be pleasantly surprised.