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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Royal Hunt

Double Live In Japan

Review by Gary Hill

Doing a wonderful job of combining classical music with heavy metal, Royal Hunt's albums have always sounded like studio-only productions. It seemed like a lot would be lost in the translation to live performance. This album definitely proves that that is not the case. The band almost flawlessly reproduces the songs from those fine albums in concert, and that fact was captured quite well on this double CD.

The core group of Royal Hunt (Andre Andersen, D. C. Cooper, Jacob Kjaer, and Steen Mogenseen) are joined on various cuts by Kenneth Olsen, Maria McTurk, Lise Hansen, and Allen Sorenson.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Flight
Starting with low intensity new-classical strains, the volume and power build slowly. The keys reach a crescendo, then drop. Drums enter, and shortly thereafter the whole band follows. The cut takes on a very classically tinged metal mode, making this a good hard rocker with choral vocals and other classical elements.
1348
Bouncy `80`s style keys start this cut, to be joined by a nicely dramatic vocal segment. This one comes across quite a bit like Mindcrime era Queensryche, but with stronger classical elements. It features a nice `70`s groove as an instrumental break.
Wasted Time
A straightforward metal cut, this has a strong classically influenced instrumental break and segues directly into "Stay Down"
Stay Down
This hard edged and fast paced rocker has a slower segment, which gives dramatic emphasis.
On the Run
A classically dominated intro leads to a cut that really rocks.
Running Wild
Somewhat bouncy prog metal, this is a faced paced cut. It features a nice audience sing along segment..
Epilogue
After Cooper speaking to the audience, piano leads to haunting prog metal. This becomes dramatic and emotional through some nice classical elements.
Age Gone Wild
Sort of folky acoustic oriented hard rock, the band playfully begins the cut with a snippet of "Smoke on the Water".
Kingdom Dark
This is scorching, riff-laden metal with strong vocal harmonies and classical overtones.
Disc 2
Ava Maria Guarani
A classically oriented accapella arrangement, this number really separates Royal Hunt from most metal bands. Raging winds make up the ending moments of this song, seeming to symbolize the winds of change.
The Awakening
Very dramatic and emotional acoustic .guitar and vocals lead into a rather tribal drum segment. This is made more tribal by the addition of native American chanting. The cut segues nicely into "River of Pain". The "Waiting for the storm" line seems to show the winds of change element of the last cut to be true.
Tearing Down The World
Fast paced metal, this one features strong classical elements with catchy hooks, both vocal and instrumental. Another poignant one, this cut is a strong track which features a powerful instrumental break with awe-inspiring guitar and keyboard segments.
Message to God
Evocative piano begins this cut, running through a nice melody line before the song is completely reborn in a different form. It takes on more pure metal moments in a strong groove, although still showing classical modes, chorale vocals and a dynamic arrangement. The winds from earlier end the cut and signify the tones segueing into "Long Way Home".
Long Way Home
This song is basically a full treatment of the first movement to The Awakening. A dramatic treatment, this one gradually builds in intensity. More storms sounds move this one into the next cut.
Time Will Tell
Staccatto metal, is dramatically interspersed with drum interludes, starts this track. The intensity and speed build before it drops into a bass oriented groove. Keyboards add to the mix, before it drops off. The composition then turns to more traditional metal modes. It then acquires more classical modes while still maintaining its metal roots. This is another powerhouse number. It features a very orchestral string type segment as part of its instrumental break. This one ends with dramatic Omenish vocals followed by voice and sound effects.
Silent Scream
A harpsichord oriented intro with a very classical tone leads into a metallic, hard rocking number that still maintains classical elements. This bouncy prog metal number is quite dramatic and features a poignant arrangement.
It's Over
Featuring themes from "Long Way Home", this is a considerably powerful and emotional cut and a strong end to the album.
 
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