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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Royal Hunt

Show Me How to Live

Review by Gary Hill

Make no mistake, “Paradox” and “Moving Target” are the best albums by Royal Hunt. Since they are the only two other Royal Hunt discs (to this point) to feature D. C. Cooper as the lead singer, his return to the band is a welcome piece of news. This album is quite similar to both of its predecessors. That’s both good and bad news. The truth is, the disc is incredible. It will likely be on my list of best for 2011 (at the time of writing this review I haven’t sat down to compile that list). The bad part is, it really seems like more of the same. As great as it is, it seems like there’s no new territory here. We’ve heard it all before. Still, it’s definitely a place worth revisiting.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
One More Day

Bombast and theatrics makes up the introduction to this track. That intro is composed of symphonic elements, chorale vocals and sound effects. It’s almost as if it leads into another song from there. Symphonic metal makes up the extended (second) introductory section here. Then they drop it a bit mellower for the first vocals. This has a Uriah Heep element to it in some ways, but with a lot more symphonic metal in the mix. This thing works through a number of changes and is a real powerhouse jam. It’s definitely a return to form for Royal Hunt.

Another Man Down
This starts with a ringing telephone and a woman’s voice answering and getting no response. The keyboards and other elements bring this in as a powerful ballad. It has a duet between D.C. Cooper and one of the female singers on the disc. There are several listed in the credits as additional vocalists, but I can’t see anywhere it identifies who sings on particular tracks. That duet part is just for one verse, though. It becomes more of a full hard rocking jam as it continues later. It’s a killer tune in the best Royal Hunt tradition.
An Empty Shell
A hard edged and energized tune, this has all the pomp and majesty that’s expected of Royal Hunt. It’s a piece that’s nearly progressive rock in its reach, scope and complexity. There are definitely a lot of symphonic elements on display here.
Hard Rain's Coming
A harpsichord section opens this and the vocals come in with a balladic texture. Then it powers out to hard rocking music with definite symphonic sounds. There’s a killer melodic guitar solo on this piece.
Half Past Loneliness
A driving bass line opens this number. We get a less proggy jam here. It’s still got some progressive rock built into it, though. It’s just that the central song structure is more pure metal. The vocal arrangement is among the catchiest of the set.
Show Me How To Live
Sound effects open the title track. Then keyboards come in before a symphonic metal sound threatens to explode out. Instead it remains reasonably mellow and ballad-like (with some serious symphonic oomph) for the first vocals. This works out from there in a chorus that’s extremely accessible, but still very symphonic in nature. It turns out into an extensive instrumental section (with bits of non-lyrical vocals almost as more instrumentation). The balance shifts on this section. It’s less metallic than the rest of the material and finds its closest balance in the progressive rock zone. It’s got a screaming (but still melodic) guitar solo, though. Eventually it leads out to a reprise of the familiar chorus. It drops down to just keyboards and vocals in the closing section. At about ten minutes in length, this is the epic of the disc.
Angel's Gone
Classical music, but performed by rock instrumentation serves as the introduction on this. It works through like that as it builds upwards. As this works out into a song, it’s more rock oriented but those classical elements still remain. At times this makes me think of a more metallic Styx. That’s just short little sections, though. Overall this is classic Royal Hunt. There’s some serious neo-classical jamming later in the piece that serves as the extended outro.
 
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