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Royal Hunt

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5 stars It's been less than two years since Denmark's Royal Hunt released their last studio album X (oddly, their ninth full-length) but amidst much fanfare here comes Show Me How to Live, featuring the return of American vocalist D.C. Cooper, whose work was an essential part of some of RH's best work (Moving Targets and Paradox). Anticipation ran high amongst the melodic prog-metallers' fan base...could the new record possibly equal the Hunt's best work of the 90s?

They needn't have worried. Show a stunning album, so full of energy and melody and great compositions that it actually requires a second spin just to confirm its instantaneously epic stature. From the cinematic opening of One More Day to the final powerful sweep of Angel's Gone, Show an exhilarating listen. The production is crisp and full, the backing vocals create harmony and momentum at the same time, and the songs all hit that sweet spot between  prog wankery and melodic metal.  DC's vocals do not disappoint...he sounds positively re-energized throughout.  Jonas Larsen's guitar work is quirky and dramatic...witness his solo on the undeniable and downright delightful Half Past Loneliness. The whole band plays with a sense of purpose and joy you've never heard from them before...maybe it wasn't present in the studio, but it suffuses this album on every tune. Even the long epic moments like the title track have a confidence and spirit that belies the dramatic lyrics ("Show me how to live...there's a thousand ways to die").

If you like great hard rock or prog metal, you'd have to try really hard not to love this album. And you'd still fail. At 42 minutes, it's too short, but like classic albums of our youth, it flies by and you're ready to queue it up again. Royal Hunt have managed to exceed the high standards of their best work and  throw a little metallic joy into the lives of even the most cynical music fans.

(also posted to

Report this review (#578935)
Posted Wednesday, November 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars After years of albums (in a very honest statement of musical principles), a pair of great singers and always taking the best choices possible (at least in my humble opinion), the master mind behind the Royal Hunt sound has realized that it's the right time to call once more the most notorious frontman (and maybe, a kind of "symbolic figure") in Royal Hunt's sound & history to date.

There was some pressure from outside, from the fans, and even from some local promoters in some places in the world, all those reasons could be "the reason" why DC Cooper has rejoined the band in early 2011.

But the novelty it's not only this, the classic trademark from their music has come back and the characteristic Neo-classic style is on the road once more for the happiness of Royal Hunt's hardcore fans. "Show me how to live" has brought back two punctual things to the band: first, the melodious and almost unique voice of DC Cooper, and second, the return of the band to its Hard/Prog/Classical roots.

The album contains 7 songs in a period not longer than 42 minutes. Well, what exactly can we find on this record that they didn't offer in their latest releases? simple and not that simple to say it at the same time. The first song in the album gives us all that we can ask for a opening track in a Neo-classic Metal record; a convincing intro, catchy melodies, powerful chorus and a perfect assembly between a great voice (DC Cooper still keeps in shape vocally) and a very trained musicians. That exactly is "one more day".

"Another man down" shows a more reposed approachment from DC cooper in his voice, the track includes a short duet with female vocals, besides, the song plays constantly with the chorus but doesn't ruin it.

In the next song, "an empty shell", the band brings back some velocity in its music. Here DC Cooper demonstrates why his high tones (used wisely) are so characteristic in the final result of any Royal Hunt theme. As much the guitar as keyboards are very well made, helping to get better the track.

The fourth track on the album is nothing less than the promotional single of the record, "hard rain's coming" is personally one of my favourite songs from whole work, it has everything; catchy chorus, an interesting developing in DC Cooper's performance along the track, a enjoyable melody. Also I liked about the guitar solo section and how the solo itself helps to give a major deepness to the song.

"Half pass loneliness" is that kind of song that catches you off guard, that is because after listening the whole record, this song stays still in your mind. Here we find a very recommendable task of bass guitar, that holds all the rhythm from the beginning to the end of the theme. Along with "hard rain's coming", this one has a very simple chorus but what the hell!, if it's marked with fire in subconscious to reproduce it again and again.

The title track, "show me how to live" is the only exception in my opinion, the song is long, maybe too long (there's no cohesion on it) and it extends with no apparently reason? only the second half of the track can show some attractive to the listener but not more, even if you compare this one with another long tracks in Royal Hunt's career, you will see (and hear) an abyss of distance, as much in quality as in inspiration, the clearest (and the best) example would be "time will tell" from their classic record "Paradox" from 1997.

But fortunately the end of the album deserves much more than Ok. "angel's gone" is a lesson of how to build a really good Neo-classic Metal song and not fail in the task. We're not going to find the cornerstone of music history here, but they (I mean the five members) really shine on this track!, DC Cooper rules on any note, André Andersen commands the ship like the veteran he's with his keyboards, Jonas Larsen and his guitar do the labour more than right, Andreas Passmark is on control of rhythm with the bass guitar and finally the unknown hero, a very applied drummer Allan Sorensen does a precise work, what a sound from his drums!, not only here but also in every track from "Show me how to live".

Did Royal Hunt recycle ideas? yeah, it's very probably. Did they bring back the classy melody? absolutely, inspired with enough doses of Hard Rock well done, with little pieces of prog-music they put here and there, and a honest sense of what they really know to do like few!.

A review needs objectivity to be done rightly but the other side of reason on this matter, the subjectivity appears suddenly trapping every concept and argument. Only as conclusion I could say that the long wait has been rewarded.

By: Epsilon.

Report this review (#582824)
Posted Monday, December 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Show Me How To Live' - Royal Hunt (7/10)

Royal Hunt takes an intriguing place as one of those legendary progressive metal bands that I have never heard about until recently. Having been around about as long as Dream \Theater, this band has been making their classically-influenced brand of progressive metal since the style was crawling on all fours. Over twenty years into their career now, the art of album-making is nothing new to these Danes, and 'Show Me How To Live' reflects that confidence and experience. With a firm grip on their melodic style, Royal Hunt creates an experience that is almost certain to impress lovers of both progressive and neoclassical metal.

As a newcomer to the music of Royal Hunt, the first band that this Danish act reminded me of were Kamelot. Although Royal Hunt predate Kamelot by years, their sound has developed into one that parallels the trend in neoclassical metal. Operatic 'power metal' vocals, symphonic keyboards, dramatic melodies and spitfire musicianship are all elements of Royal Hunt's music, and despite the fact that the style of music that this band plays is no longer 'my thing' so to speak, 'Show Me How To Live' has stood to me as a memorable album, solid in most respects. With the exception of the bold title track, the songwriting here is based in a hard rock tradition. While these songs are exciting enough to go off on instrumental escapades as per prog metal canon, they are centered around powerful choruses that reflect the band's skill with writing melodies, and depth of arrangement. The symphonic elements that Royal Hunt chooses to season their music with are never too elaborate, but adds a touch of extra class to what they do.

The largest qualm with Royal Hunt's sound is that while their neoclassical take on melodic metal may have been more adventurous back when the band was first starting out, Royal Hunt's established style is beginning to show signs of age. This album may be the band at their most professional-sounding, but by the second or third track of this record, little comes as a surprise. Regardless, 'Show Me How To Live' is a passionately performed and tastefully composed album by these underrated legends, and although Royal Hunt finds themselves amidst a sea of melodic metal soundalikes, they manage to stand out.

Report this review (#583721)
Posted Tuesday, December 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Show me!

This is my first experience with Danish band Royal Hunt, though they have been rocking since early 90s, actually, this new album entitled "Show me How to Live" is their twelfth studio album, so they have a vast back catalogue. In this album they decided to put seven compositions and a total time of 37 minutes, in which a progressive metal, with some Viking touches and of course symphonic tones, will be heard.

It opens with "One More Day" in which we can appreciate since the first moments those mediaeval touches created mainly by voices and keyboards; and of course, the always inherent power of guitars and drums, sharing that metal-oriented sound. Then a new song appears with a ring phone and a female voice; a few seconds later piano enters in a soft way, accompanied by bass, drums, later guitars and voice, so now "Another Man Down" has truly started. The stories tell share different sensations such as pain, sadness, and hope. Here that female voice also sings, so they make a nice couple. The music is not that powerful, though the heavy sound is still there, but in a lighter way.

"An Empty Shell" starts with keyboards and creates a dramatic, even chaotic sound which is greatly complemented by the other instruments seconds later. So little by little the song is progressing, creating a vertiginous sound that let your imagination fly, because here I can create my own story with images and everything, even with characters and places, so I guess the song succeeded at least with me. After three minutes there are the classic guitar and keyboard solos.

"Hard Rain's coming" starts softer with keyboards and voice, but after 30 seconds it explodes and the energy is shown once again. Then the structure is being built up, with those backing vocals included that make me remind some of those Viking metal bands. The problem I sometimes have with these kind of bands, is that after some tracks I feel the music repetitive, and in moments even boring, but that's just me, who am not really a fan of this genre.

"Half Past Loneliness" is a bit different and by default more interesting. I like the bass sound in the beginning and how the guitar riff comes almost instantly. After a minute the vocals appear and the music slows down a little bit, but then the structure is repeated creating a catchy rhythm and chorus. After three minutes a new guitar riff appears, and then the song finishes with an emotional context.

The longest track is "Show me How to Live" in whose ten minutes the band develops an interesting composition, with good changes in rhythm and mood. Here they gather all their musical elements that we could previously hear, and resume them in this long song, where one can have a mini journey inside Royal Hunt's realm. After four minutes there is an instrumental part where keyboards take the leadership, creating a good atmosphere and sharing different nuances and emotions, I really like that part; then it little by little is progressing, the intensity increases until the guitar riff appears. Later vocals return as well as the initial sound, and it finishes like this. The final piece is "Angel's Gone" which reminds me of the album's first two tracks, with that symphonic-like keyboard-led sound. There is nothing much to add here, actually.

Well I bet this album might appeal to those metal (in its different forms) fans, it has very good compositions and great passages, though as I said earlier, to me the repetition became boredom in some moments, that is why I will give it three stars.

Enjoy it!

Report this review (#612934)
Posted Wednesday, January 18, 2012 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars Royal Hunt are a formulaic medieval operatic neoclassical metal band.

This is the type of band that would comfortably ride in to the sunset with Kamelot, Epica or even Manowar, at least in lyrical content, if not style. The formula is consistent throughout. A gentle opening, melodic verses, anthemic chorus repeating often and with multi tracks harmonies, dramatic violin sweeps, a lead break, and then more choruses to end. That's about it really and it could have really done with some breaks from this formula to give it some variety and hold interest.

The orchestrated synths provide massive symphonic blasts and the metal is always steady and distorted. It begins with battle clashes, horses braying and the sounds of war ushered in by majestic orchestration. 'One More Day' features the type of music that pervades throughout the album, clean male vocals, sounding a little like Bruce Dickinson, operatic choruses, synths to the wall, lead breaks, and metal distortion.

A phone call and a woman answering ushers in 'Another Man Down'. It is a quiet guitar and pulsing bass for a while. The vocals are softer and very well sung. It was nice to hear a female vocal soon after answering the male. There should be more of this. It is very much like Ayreon's duets or even Touchstone. The chorus is infectious and uplifting.

The formula continues with 'An Empty Shell' and it is a rocker with great synths and melodies. The violin strings serrate constantly on such songs and the classical feel is strong. Lead breaks come in with well executed dexterity. It is a dramatic soundscape generated, and one that is effective.

'Hard Rain's Coming' is the single beginning with lute or something and a quieter vocal. It builds to a catchy melody. It is quite a nice song, but very similar to everything else on the album so far. It is all beginning to sound the same, formulaic. You can sing along to this and I would say audiences do in a concert setting.

'Half Past Loneliness' has a steady traditional beat and some very good vocals. The violin sweeps are always present and the best part of it. The chorus is always bright and perky I am tiring of the same formula song after song.

'Show Me How To Live' is the mini epic of the album and I hoped for something pretty special being 10 minutes long. It begins with someone in the rain typing, at least that what it sounds like. The violins crank up, and then a melodic chorus, wait for it, here comes a chorus. It is slower and actually sounds better than other choruses on the album. After another verse and chorus the obligatory lead break begins. It is short as always and then back to the chorus. How this will fill 10 minutes is now the point of interest. Another chorus? Why not. How about another? No? okay the song now has a bridge, strange violins Psycho style. Love that sound, now we are motoring. Another bridge, the violins continue while a piano begins a melody, and this is already the highlight of the album. The sound builds to sustained key pads, very symphonic, then a choir of voices joins in the simple melody. A lead breaks launches into orbit, a nice sound and complements the soundscape. A change in key, a new time sig and we are off on a journey now and this is incredible music. It returns back to the key and melody of the beginning and we have another chorus, but it works to bookend the track. More of this and the album would be wonderful. It is a one off but worth checking out for this song alone.

'Angel's Gone' is a fast tempo majestic piece that ends the album with more formula, fast violins, a lead break intro, a verse, and don't bore us, get to the chorus. I liked the song and it is a great way to end this. So my opinion is this is a good album for those who love straight forward melodies and very anthemic medieval Viking bombastic metal. It is not really one for great riffs or lead breaks. It is however a fairly strong release and hopefully the band will improve on the next album.

Report this review (#618609)
Posted Tuesday, January 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Royal Hunt has been consistently pumping out well-received melodic progressive metal albums for the past twenty years, and Show Me How to Live is certainly no exception to this trend. Although you could argue that the band's most creative and innovative period is behind them, these Danes still know how to dish out relevant and memorable music in today's melodic metal scene. Their blend of neo-classical instrumentation, melodic choruses, and hard-hitting riffs is inevitably lovable, and while Royal Hunt isn't nearly as original as they were in the mid-nineties', Show Me How to Live is still a fine effort that fans of melodic progressive metal ought to check out.

The main format for Royal Hunt's sound is melodic power metal with symphonic and neo-classical overtones, in addition to numerous ventures into progressive territory. This style may not be groundbreaking anymore in 2011, but Royal Hunt proves that they are still relevant by their compositional abilities and top-notch musicianship. This is a group of fantastic musicians across the board, and Show Me How to Live also sports plenty of killer songs. While the epic title track takes the cake by numerous country miles, everything you'll find on this album is well-composed and highly professional. Aside from the occasionally plastic keyboard tones (which, I guess could be a positive for some listeners), there's really not much to complain about on Show Me How to Live - it delivers plenty of goods, and while it rarely reaches a level of true excellency, this is a damn solid album from all fronts.

People who are hesitant to Royal Hunt's brand of symphonic melodic metal won't have their minds changed by Show Me How to Live, but fans of the band will be pleased to know that they have yet another solid platter of hard-hitting tunes up their sleeves this time. Although I would've liked a few more jaw-dropping moments like those found in the title track, it's still really tough to deny quality like this. 3.5 stars are well-deserved, and Royal Hunt fans would be making a mistake by passing this one up!

Report this review (#622230)
Posted Saturday, January 28, 2012 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars The most intriguing aspect of this album is the fact that singer D C Cooper is back to the band that had launched his career. And, coincidence or not, Royal Hunt never had the been the same since he left. Nor was he capable of doing something as remarkable, solo or with his many side projects. So it was a bit natural that one day or another theyīd try to do something together again. And thatīs the dilema I was facing. Should I get the album and find if the magic was still there? Or should I forget it all and keep the good memories I had of this great band in the 90īs, avoiding the chance of a big disappointment? In the end I decided to take my chances into getting the new CD.

And it was worth it!! I donīt know if it was Cooperīs presence, or Andre Andersenīs renewed inspiration for great, bombastic and melodic tunes (maybe a combination fo the two), but Show Me Hot to Live is their best album since the masterpiece Paradox. Itīs absolute unbelievable how D Cīs vocals fit into the music like a glove. Itīs a pity that this reunion did not include other members of the classic line up (bar drummer Allan Sorensen, whoīs been with them since Paradox). But youīll hardly notice: new guitarrist Jonas Larsen is a brilliant musician and his style is quite close to that of Jacob Kjaer. And all the groupīs trademarks are there: Andersenīs symphonic keyboards, the great chorus reinforced by female backing vocals, the inspired guitar solos and the terrific rhythm section. Above all, of course, D C Cooper shows why he is one of the best all around singers of the world. He has lost none of his vocal prowness.

However, nothing would have worked so good without a good dose of great songs to match. And Andersen does deliver the goods: there is not a single bad moment in the whole CD. Only excellent, powerful and well arranged tunes that show the band in great shape. Ok, of course there is nothing really new or groundbreaking here. And the new stuff is not as fantastic as the Paradox, but I guess that would be asking for too much. The fact that the band, after all this time was capable of releasing such astonishing, convincing stuff is a feat on itself. I wish more bands could do that.

Production is top notch and the performances are spotless. There are no real highlights on this album, itīs all excellent, but I think the title track and Half Past Loneliness are excellent examples of classic RH tunes for future compilations.

Final rating: 4,5 stars. Highly recommended!

Report this review (#629594)
Posted Friday, February 10, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars I was so surprised by appearance of Royal Hunt in the Progarchives "hot list" (it, after all, is a retro metal band, and the worst kind of retro - cheesy 80s style), so decided to chip in. Havent got my hands on the new one yet, this is about the one from 2011.

Royal Hunt play highly orchestrated (the band leader, and only constant presence, is the keyboardist) power metal, with a couple of concept albums and epics that warrants its inclusion here. Actually it's amazing they are still around and haven't lost creative spark. Now, they do release weak albums for time to time, making think that they will be forever relegated now to the nostalgic tour circuit, but then BOOM! another album that is so strong. Show Me How To Live is one of such redeeming albums. Save for the title song maybe, it's not really prog, but just so energetic and infectious that you should jump up and start air-guitaring immediately, even though its more about the synths and vocals than the guitars. You'd think that for a cheesy metal band the concluding track titled Angel's Gone would be a wimpy ballad. Nope. Another boisterous rocker.

Report this review (#1085175)
Posted Tuesday, December 3, 2013 | Review Permalink

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