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

COLLISION COURSE...PARADOX2

Royal Hunt

Progressive Metal


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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?

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Send comments to The T (BETA) | Report this review (#172974)
Posted Tuesday, June 03, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars After the first listening of this long-awaited CD from Royal Hunt, I felt myself a little kid who heard his top 10 favorite tracks. From the first note to the last, this masterpiece can't be compared to any other group - the only thought comes into your head - it's Royal Hunt.

The album itself is a sequel to the band's all-time-classic album Paradox (1997) and all the tracks are musically and lyrically (this time the lyrics are oriented on the problem of Christian & Islam cultures collision and its consequences in today's world) linked together.

Principles of Paradox starts with a familiar sound of rain and acoustic guitar melody from Long Way Home that into a new piano & strings melody. A few moments later the new vocalist Mark Boals (ex-Malmsteen, Ring of Fire, The Codex) starts singing the first lines, which are kinda reflecting the whole conception. After a bit of singing, there's an instrumental part, the end of which begins The First Rock, a song, written in the classic RH style and that speeds it all up. Not too fast, very melodic and heavy. The end of track 2 passes into track 3 - Exit Wound, a mid-tempo symphonic hard rock song, very strong and dramatic, with lots of backing vocals by different guests (Ian Parry, Kenny Lübcke and Maria McTurk can be heard). And now prepare for the fastest song on the album - Divide and Reign, that begins with a theme from the original Paradox - It's Over. Actually I don't remember Royal Hunt to go that fast before, but I tell you, this song is a real heavy metal thing with, of course, symphonic melodic riffs and fills, progressive verses and solos with a little vocal solo part by Ian Parry. And it's also a headbanger's choice Smile! The only ballad on the album starts with an explosion and sound that bring you the warlike feel - High Noon at The Battlefield. This is also something new, a warm ballad with acoustic guitars, piano, Marcus Jidell's blues solo fills and Per Schelander's fretless bass solo in the beginning. Some parts of this song remind you of the songs Eye Witness and Legion of the Damned. You also can hear Henrik Brockmann and Doogie White on this song - they sing a few lines in the middle. It ends with the theme of the next song - The Clan, played on the piano, with an excerpt from European news, saying something negative about Islamic peoples. I would say that The Clan is a song written in the Fear album style, of course it's not the same as Lies or Faces of War, but it gives you that feeling of Royal Hunt in the 90s. I have to say that Blood in Blood out is my favorite track on the album. The beginning actually gave me a 80s soundtrack music feel Smile, but later it passes into melodic, powerful, symphonic - brilliant riffs, melodies and solos with a mix of oriental music in the bridges. Tears of The Sun starts with this album's guest singer, Michelle Raitzin's singing, followed by Mark Boals and then a riff in RH style. A great song indeed. The vocals, the neoclassical riffs, and powerful drumming from Allan Sorensen, that once again joined Royal Hunt as the official member, makes you love it! Hostile Breed begins with sounds of Islamic people praying that is followed by a mystic riff that starts the melodic'n'progressive song with changing tempos, choirs and music experiments! Chaos A.C. continues the song with a riffs from River of Pain and Exit Wound, a guitar solo and then - singing from Mark, Ian, Doogie and Kenny. The heavy part ends as original Paradox's song, Time will tell - a great surprise for the fans! And a bigger surprise will be when you hear the very end of this CD - so you better order your copy now and be the first to hear it! If you liked Paradox 1, then Collision Course is just for you!

In total, I think that this album is definitely one of the best that Royal Hunt has ever done. Drums and bass sound amazingly great, guitars and keyboards' sound is as always on the top as well as the vocals mixing/mastering. The composer, keyboardist and producer André Andersen has made another masterpiece. My rating is 94/100.

André Osokin / royalhunt.org

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Send comments to A3000 (BETA) | Report this review (#198333)
Posted Saturday, January 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well, to judge only by the first listening this album it would be something certainly unfair, why do I say that?. "Collision Course... "Paradox II" (I'll try to ignore this little detail on the title of this record through this review) basically tried to be the sequel of great "Paradox" from 1997 and if we see this matter by a critical way, I think they did not fail at all.

The whole album drives its musical sequence between hard/melodic metal tracks with a strong focus on good arrangements and solid melodies that invites to keep hearing the record to the end (maybe not in the first listening, but it does in the following ones). A very good vibe around the songs helps to make more enjoyable each one and see its structural coherence and its cohesion musical inside it.

I think the only factor that could play against "Collision Course" was the using of a meaningful part of the title; "Paradox", in fact, is one of the few second parts (sequel albums in rock history) that made an honourable breakthrough as a continuation.

Concerning of the highlights of the record, I would say that Mark Boals (the lead vocals this time) voice is simply great along the album, a performance that I would say it's more than satisfactory. Also you can find great songs like: "the first rock" that is pure melodic metal with an interesting dose of hard rock, "exit wound" an exercise of melodic balance and a great chorus on it.

Other good examples in the album are "divide and reign" that brings some Power Metal influences back, "blood in blood out" shows the most progressive side on the album including some arabic sounds to complete the idea on the way. And finally, "tears of the sun" probably take us to the most classic side of the band, with that characteristic use of this kind of influences, in a very "Royal Hunt" way, besides, using a female vocal phrase at the beginning and at the end of the song.

This album is now maybe in the most underrated side of Royal Hunt's discography but I'm sure that with the pass of time will gain not only inside of fans from the band but also with the followers of the melodic metal with focus in melodic structure and classy.

By: Epsilon.

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Send comments to Epsilon (BETA) | Report this review (#588588)
Posted Thursday, December 15, 2011 | Review Permalink

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