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Royal Hunt - Paper Blood CD (album) cover


Royal Hunt


Progressive Metal

3.23 | 52 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

3 stars Let me first clear the air: this isn't really a prog album. Rather, it's a neoclassical power metal album. There are baroque-styled interludes around, but that's about it. It's generally 4/4 verse-chorus stuff with standard rock tonality and instrumentation (aside, perhaps, from the use of a chorus, which really just makes me think of 60s music). It's a song-oriented album, so let's break it all down:

Break Your Chains -- a clever way to begin an album: an orchestra warming up. Builds into a standard rock beat -- a good entrance. And thus enters the absurdly-fast neoclassical keyboard shredding. You will hear a lot of it. Pre-chorus sounds quite good, and the interlude between the guitar and keyboard solos is fun, but that aside, standard power metal fare.

Not My Kind -- If I didn't know better, I would have guessed this to be an angry, metal version of a 50s song. The track is a bit slower and makes quite a bit of use of the chorus sound, which is interesting, but the track doesn't stand out. Another good interlude (better solo this time around). These patterns will hold throughout the album.

Memory Lane -- Takes 2 minutes to get warmed up. Another keyboard start, but it just doesn't quite fit. It's a slow/meaningful line with random lightning-fast runs dropped in there. It's like bad improvisational jazz. The rest of the track is one of the best on the album, though. It's done all in the style of the interludes in other tracks (more keyboard texture and less shredding). Even the fast parts feel properly bound. The latter end of the track builds up to a faster and more frantic keyboard section without that horrible shredding which builds into a more focused sound -- altogether a much more fitting track.

Never Give Up -- Beginning sounds like most of the other tracks. Just feels tired, and we're only on track 4. Of course, the guitar falls out and the vocals begin, and suddenly it sounds like a pompous version of a hardcore band. Standard chorus -- very similar to Break Your Chains. Pre-chorus and chorus have every word backed by the chorus sound. Solos are weak shredding. No interlude; I guess they used up their creative energy on Memory Lane.

Seven Days -- A slower and more focused entrance. Even the shredding is slower, which then gives way to John West slowly and leisurely singing seven days. It's a breath of fresh air after the wailing on Never Give Up. The verse builds up to a nice chorus with good backup. Following the chorus is a strange interlude and some showcasing of progressive influences. About halfway through, the track speeds up considerably for the keyboard solo which culminates in an ostinato that is just too fast and intrusive (they keyboards as a whole are on this album). Still, the rest of the track is good aside from the second keyboard solo.

SK 983 -- I have no idea what the title means. It's like someone challenged Anderson to go faster on an album that didn't need it at all. The guitar just chugs out eighth-notes like there's no tomorrow while the keyboard plays a reasonably simple melody which progresses into more shredding. Then a guitar solo with lots of shredding and not any melody to find in it all. Then the coup de grāce -- Anderson goes berserk and we all lose interest. Then the original melody again with a third added on top. Then semi-interesting interlude, then back to the original melody again. Again, I invoke the expended-their-creative-energy explanation.

Kiss of Faith -- Complete change of pace. Starts with a bit of americana and actually maintains the blues feel until about a minute in when West goes overboard again. Still, there's no keyboard shredding AT ALL! It's such a wonderful feeling after SK 983. The blues feel really helps this one a lot. Even the guitar solo is reasonably within itself. Choral backup sounds great in this track. Another winner.

Paper Blood -- The metal sound fits this one. West doesn't sound too much overdone on this one (which is a freaking miracle), and his slight growl in the verses fits. Solos bite. Overall, not great but not bad.

Season's Change -- A ballad! A power ballad! Not a very unique one! You can guess exactly what this will be by what has come before it.

Twice Around the World -- OK, so, I lied. There are some more progressive influences on this album, and they're right here. An instrumental line, this one runs the gamut of musical styles found previously in the album. The jazz, blues, and classical influences are all on display along with a hearty bit of improvisation (think Liquid Tension Experiment). Ends the album on a very positive note.

Overall: An average album, really. Not progressive enough for a 5 (or even close), but the music is sometimes catchy and there are some genuinely good tracks on here. It's not a disaster, but it wouldn't be my first recommendation. I give it the benefit of the doubt: a 3.

Gamemako | 3/5 |


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