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Royal Hunt - Collision Course...Paradox2 CD (album) cover

COLLISION COURSE...PARADOX2

Royal Hunt

 

Progressive Metal

3.51 | 39 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars When I learned that ROYAL HUNT's new album would be named "Paradox Part II" I was surprised and quite afraid of what I would find. After all, my last experience with this excellent Danish band had been a disaster (the utterly atrocious "Paper Blood"). Then I came to know that the album would feature a new vocalist, replacing John West. My fears were growing in my mind. Not only the predecessor was an awful album, but this one wouldn't even have a great asset as West's vocals were for the band. And, of course, the number 2. Sequels in movies are usually of dubious nature and quality, but in music they're quite a rare phenomenon. I haven't heard of a "The Wall 2" or "Images and Words 2". My most immediate memory of a sequel was QUEENSRYCHE's "Operation Mindcrime 2", an album that, while not bad, was not even close to match the quality of the original masterpiece.

Here, the task was also hard. The original "Paradox" was a progressive-metal masterpiece, an album rarely criticized, with great music, catchy music, a fantastic singer (D.C. Cooper) and even a great lyrical theme. So how would ROYAL HUNT do a decent job of writing a sequel if they didn't have the same great singer or at least his very good successor, and the last we heard of them was a complete uninspired fast-metal bore fest?

Well, the answer is: don't try too hard and just copy/paste. That's the philosophy that seems to transcend from my listening sessions of "Collision Course".

The first thing to notice is that the album starts with the same notes as "Paradox." The same music opens the record and from that point on, the music will remain generally very similar to that of the 1997's magnum opus. In fact, the music is so strikingly similar that even Boals' vocals, at times, sounds similar to DC Cooper.

But that's only an illusion. The first element that hurts this album is the vocalist. Don't get me wrong: he's good. He's a very capable singer with good pipes and range. But he lacks that uniqueness factor that made Cooper the star he was. Cooper's voice may not be the best ever, but the tone of his voice is definitely unique and imposing, and in such a dark, ominous album as "Paradox" was, his voice sounded outright creepy. Boals doesn't have that kind of power nor does he have the power and epic reach of John West. Maybe Boals would have sounded much better with happier, lighter metal music. He may sound better in ANGRA or even in other ROYAL HUNT's albums where the tone of the work doesn't demand a dark voice. But in an album about the nefarious influence of religion, Boals' vocals sound too optimistic.

The music itself is quite an improvement over the atrocious "Paper Blood." Finally, it seems Andersen has realized that one can play music at different speeds and with some melody. We have good choruses here, we have some good melodies, songs with different tempos, and typical classical- influenced ROYAL HUNT keyboards with ascending and descending scales, the main element that was lost in the guitar-dominated predecessor.

But, ultimately, the good points about "Collision Course" are also the ones that hurt it most. The album is too similar to "Paradox", the melodies and the ideas in general seem literally taken from that record and pasted onto this one with just a few changes in harmonies and tonalities. It wouldn't be crazy to call this record, paraphrasing immortal classical works' titles, "Variations on a theme by Royal Hunt for Metal Ensemble and Singer."

We understand that, for a part 2 to be a true sequel, it has to share elements with its correspondent part 1. The use of some themes and melodies from the original piece is not only correct but necessary. But we can't justify a whole record made of the same sound. The similarities transcend the singular to go into the general. Not only a few melodies sound the same, the music as a whole sounds the same.

After I've said that, my rating can't be as high as it would be for the original album. "Paradox" would obtain 5 stars with no hesitation. If that album didn't exist, I would give this newer one 4 stars (the music is not as memorable anyway). But as the 1997 masterpiece is a reality, I have to bring down the rating a little bit to a 3. It's still a big success after the 1-star music-murder that was "Paper Blood."

This album sounds very similar to a masterpiece, and that's actually its biggest flaw. Isn't that a Paradox?

The T | 3/5 |

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