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PAPER BLOOD

Royal Hunt

Progressive Metal


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MikeEnRegalia
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is a tremendously well done album. I'm not sure if it satisfies the requirements that some people define for prog music, but it does for me.

The foremost quality of this album is the level of sophistication in every aspect of the music - the production, the songwriting, the arrangements, the vocals etc.. I think that this album is a perfect combination of their previous albums The Mission and Eyewitness. It is much more diverse than The Mission, and much more complex than Eyewitness.

There are many unusual sounds they rarely used before. The only problem for me is that most of the songs are based on standard rock song structures, reminiscent of Deep Purple and Whitesnake. But they add so much complexity, neo-classical interludes, solos etc. that it never get's boring - if you're into that kind of music.

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Send comments to MikeEnRegalia (BETA) | Report this review (#36813)
Posted Friday, June 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
1 stars I don't know how this album could've got 4.50 when is so awfully noisy! (well, besides the fact that I don't see any other review...)

Royal hunt is (was?) a very good band, sometimes standing near the threshold of greatness. The vocalist for the first albums was one of the most underrated (at least in terms of mentinioning: no one ever remembers him!) singers in metal and prog-metal (and prog for that matter): D.C. Cooper... after he departed, John West of Artension fame took his place and at first he really stood up to the challenge: he made a lot of fans forget the former's frontman departure. After a good debut (for him) album, Fear, came The Mission, a good effort. Then I lost track of this band for a while... I didn't get their latest (before this one), Eyewitness, so my re-encounter with the danish turned out to be Paper Blood.

Now, royal hunt had always been characterized by a fast, driving style of progressive- metal, with a lot of classical influence (from the baroque era), some New Wave of british Heavy Metal (mainly Maiden) thrown into the mix, but all of that dominated not by the sound of guitars, but by the sound of keyboards. As Andre Andersen, keyboard player, is the true "owner" of this band (writes most of the music and lyrics), his instrument, until now, had been the prevalent one in all Royal hunt albums.

But that keyboard-driven sound was a controlled, organized, melodious one. In the earlier records they use to have a lot of middle tempo songs with hard, heavy guitar riffs and powerful, heroic chords; sometimes the keyboards were used for atmosphere; when it came to soloing, you could hear every key and note that was being played, so crystal clear and well thought the Andersen solos used to be....Paradox was a masterpiece (that should get the recognition it deserves), Fear was a great follow-up, but all of this,

...is past history. For today's Royal Hunt is a complete mess made of, almost exclusively, ultra-lightning fast songs; today's RH is barely within the prog realm, today's RH is just a power speed metal band, with more predominance by the guitars than usual, and it's a shame because this was a keyboard band mainly. But at the same time, it is a sort of saving grace for RH that Andersen is no longer the only spotlight, for his playing today is just as irrelevant, muscular and no-brains as the music he's writing: light-speed solos where scales come and go, up and down....man, this album must hold the record for most scales per square minute! And a waste of minutes at that, for there's no melody in those solos, just boring, excruciating to listen scales. That happens with the songs, too: no great chorus (where's the River of Pain or Message to God from Paradox, Cold City lights or Faces of War from Fear?) in ANY of the tracks.... no good verses.... and John West.... Man!! Where's the fantastic singer we had in the last couple of albums? Yes, I think John West may have gone east here... (I couldn't resist to put this lame joke).... He's just yelling, screaming, sustainng notes...there's no singing.... but maybe is not his fault, for....WHAT MELODIES IS HE SUPPOSED TO BE SINGING, IF THERE ARE NONE HERE? The best track may well be the title track, if only because I remember how the chorus goes, or it could be that I remeber how the chorus goes because it's the title of the album in there, so there's no way of forgetting.

Atrocious. Atrocious for Royal Hunt. For regular speed power metal bands, it would be a mediocre effort; for such talented people as the ones that form this band, it's just horrendous.

Not recommended for: prog-metallers that like coherent, melody driven songs, musical solos, heroic choruses.

Recommended for: Racing fans, not formula one fans but NASCAR fans, for here's no variation in the ultra fast speed turns: it happens to be a round - oval track where the most important skill is not knowing when to accelerate and when to press the breaks, but how TO KEEP PRESSING THE ACCELERATOR FOR THE LONGEST possible time....but ultimately....even those fans will crash in this badly built circuit.

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Send comments to The T (BETA) | Report this review (#95713)
Posted Wednesday, October 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars A transitional album. Heavy, but not atrocious as one reviewer claims. I can understand his view, but I think it is still a valid statement. The songs are good (not exceptional) and the songwriting and general playing are better here than in Eyewitness. No two Royal Hunt albums are too similar, and in this one they really overdid a bit in terms of heavy metal (instead of the usual dose of hard rock). If you´re into prog metal, you´ll probably like it. If you enjoyed their earlier albums you should listen this before buying the CD. Personally I miss Steen Morgensen´s elegant bass lines. A good prog metal CD, but that´s all. I´m really anxious to see what´s coming next.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#108868)
Posted Thursday, January 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
semismart
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I think Danish progressive metal band, Royal Hunt is grossly underrated. Royal Hunt, which now has ten albums under their belt, plays a highly melodic style of progressive metal of mostly medium to fast tempo. They have a large, sometimes bombastic, very lush, symphonic sound and usually utilize violins and back up singers if not full orchestras. Band leader, Andre Anderson may not be the best keyboard player in the universe, but I can't think of anybody better - really! One of the things that makes their music stand out from their contemporaries is their long, complex grand introductions, (five minutes on one song) that is uncommon in the Progressive genre or any genre for that matter.

Royal Hunt, while technically not superior to many of their better known contemporaries, such as Stratovarius or Symphony X, I find their music to be more, shall we say, user friendly. While I applaud the latter bands for their musicianship, Royal Hunt seems to be smoother, less jarring and the songwriting, I feel, is superior and therefore easier to listen to.

I think next to Moving Targets, which I reviewed a couple years ago, Paper Blood is Royal Hunt's best album. Almost all of the tracks have found their way onto many of my mixes. This particular release has 10 songs and they are all top shelf. Outstanding songs on this album are Break Your Chains, Not my Kind, SK 983, Kiss of Faith, Paper Blood.

Conclusion

Most Royal Hunt fans believe they released their best music when they featured D.C. Cooper as their lead singer. Cooper left around 2000 under mysterious circumstances and there was a noticeable drop in the quality of their subsequent releases even though John West (Artension), Cooper's replacement, was capable and even sounds like Cooper. In any case, it was a big mistake as Royal Hunt struggled through three less than stellar albums, until brand new release, Paper Blood, which is actually quite good, sans Cooper.

Royal Hunt seem to have a loyal but limited following here in the states. This is a shame because, as mentioned, they are at least as good as all of their better known contemporaries. Telling you about Royal Hunt isn't the same thing as hearing them for yourself. If you trust me, buy this album, Moving Target or Paradox, you won't be disappointed, or find some way to hear one of them first, then buy it.

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Send comments to semismart (BETA) | Report this review (#112637)
Posted Monday, February 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Royal Hunt has been around for some time, but personally I hadn't come across these guys before this album landed in my hands.

And this release contains fast-paced prog metal, with a sound somewhat similar to Symphony X and the earliest Yngwie Malmsteen releases.

Characterstic of the sound of this album is good all around instrumental and vocal work, catchy choruses and good vocal harmonies in the non-instrumental songs.

Oh, and the synth work here is everpresent and very dominant, where extreme flamboyance and self indulgence are key words in describing just how much the synth work dominates here. But the album does sound good, despite of that.

Personally I found the bonus tracks on my version of the CD to be the best tracks on this album, as the synthwork is toned down on those songs; and it would be very interesting if Royal Hunt made more songs like that in the future.

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Send comments to Windhawk (BETA) | Report this review (#113080)
Posted Thursday, February 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
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 grâce -- 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.

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Send comments to Gamemako (BETA) | Report this review (#172824)
Posted Sunday, June 01, 2008 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Well, you know I love Royal Hunt and I did some five stars rating to their previous albums. I was amazed by the quality of music they deliver especially in putting together the keyboard sounds by Andre Andersen in inventive way throughout the stream of power metal music. Not only that, their music sparks an energy to stand straight overcoming ever increasing life challenges through our day-to-day walks of life. As far as this album concern, I can motivate myself in the morning before embarking for work by playing the opening track "Break Your Chains" in loud volume. I am sure that I will always be motivated and my spirit is rising up as the song flows. It's enough for me to go to work with high spirit. The tagline melody sung by John West is really melodic, catchy and it has many unpredictable maneuvers as he sings along. The chorus part is something that Royal Hunt has as their trademark. Not to mention the pulsating keyboard work by Andersen that has become unique characteristic of any Royal Hunt music.

The second track "Not My Kind" is a bit complex with much more aggressive guitar work in riffs or as melody. When this is combined with keyboard in fast speed tempo, it becomes a great enjoyment. Throughout this album John West sings confidently and energetically compared to his debut with the band on "Fear" album. This time it's hard to differentiate with previous lead singer DC Cooper (whom the solo album I love it as well). "Memory Lane" starts nicely with stunning keyboard solo in classical music style. When the music enters with drums, the style of music is different and this time is much symphonic with Dream-Theater-like guitar riffs. "Never Give Up" is a logical follow-up of previous track.

The album experiences break under fifth track as the style has changed in slower and softer style in "Seven Days" but maintaining main rhythm section, typical Royal Hunt music. "SK 983" blasts the music off with another fast tempo music with guitar riffs and long keyboard solo. The guitar solo in the middle of the track intertwined with keyboard are really good. The rest of the tracks are good ones with excellent instrumental closing at album's end "Twice Around The World".

I consider this album is very solid in composition with catchy tagline melody in every single song it offers. I recommend those of you who like melodic power metal to have this album. Peace on earth and mercy mild. Keep on proggin' ..!

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#202900)
Posted Monday, February 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 for sure

Ninth studio album by this danish prog metal band, released at same Frontier records in 2005 and named Paper blood is a well balanced album, better then Eyewitness, crystal clear sound and good pieces. Some new members arrived here, but the sound remeains the same, because the head of the band the excellent keybordidt Andre Andersen did a great job here. A lots of instrumental passages, 3 instrumental pieces here, very well performed and and intristing arrangements aswell. The keybords are the cherry on the cake here, absolutly awesome keybordist who can very easy go from slower moments to a more speedy ones in a great manner, great musician. The voice is ok, but is the last one featuring John West, the next albums has Mark Boals on mic, anothe rgreat vocalist for this kind of music. Memory lane, one of the instrumental is a kick ass piece, every musician shines here and they are still strong in this field, great. All tracks are strong, almost a 4 stars album, more like 3.5 , still not as good as their greatest efforts Moving target and Paradox. If you like symphonic prog metal with bombastic arrangements and killer keybords interluded with great guitar elements try this band, one of the pleasent examples from this field, still running fast today after more then 20 years in this bussiness.

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#357177)
Posted Sunday, December 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 stars.This is the best ROYAL HUNT album i've heard so far. Lots of energy and that Power- Metal flavour isn't quite as strong as it usually is in the John West-led era of the band.

"Break Your Chains" has an interesting intro then it kicks in around 1 1/2 minutes. Lots of synths and the vocals arrive 2 minutes in. A good instrumental section kicks in before 3 minutes then the vocals return a minute later. "Not My Kind" is a top three track for me.Vocals only to start then the heaviness arrives.The guitar and synths light it up before a minute.Vocals are back before 2 minutes.This is a barn burner. "Memory Lane" opens with atmosphere that builds. Drums and a full sound kick in after 2 minutes as it turns heavy. A good instrumental. "Never Give Up" is fairly powerful from the start. It does settle some when the vocals arrive but it picks back up quickly. Ripping guitar and double bass drumming 4 minutes in.

"Seven Days" is my favourite track.The pulsating keyboards is a fantastic idea for this track and it really rocks out at times. "SK 983" hits the ground running. It's heavy as the guitar and synths take turns playing over top. "Kiss Of Faith" is mellow and laid back to start.The tempo picks up before a minute. Nice guitar solo 2 1/2 minutes in then it calm back down like at the beginning. I like the drums after 3 1/2 minutes. "Paper Blood" is the other top three tune.This sounds really good. Riffs galore then it settles with vocals before kicking back in as contrasts continue. "Season's Change" opens with the guitar lighting it up then it settles with vocals.This is almost like a power ballad. "Twice Around The World" is heavy duty to start. It settles 2 minutes in as the guitar leads. Synths lead a minute later. A drum show after 4 minutes as riffs then join in. Good tune.

Close to 4 stars but there are some songs that drag this down for me.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#379699)
Posted Thursday, January 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars ...quite a confusing album. similar to the previous one "Eyewitness" in that many songs are similar and dont have a distinct identity of their own...

...however:

Seven Days ? 6:22: has a unique synth intro and is a good wake up call after a few just good songs including the instrumental (keyboard-driven as you would assume with André Andersen being the key composer).

and then its back to business as usual with SK 983 which, while good in parts, i can still never tell apart from their other instrumental sections...and Kiss of Faith.

the title-track, while in a similar frantic, keyboard-driven vein is actually a good piece of work (by trial or error they would get some spot-on, you say?)

"Season's Change" is an ok "balladish" song and then we close with a long (7:15) instrumental "Twice Around the World" which is actually quite good.

so, as more often than not with RH, this is a hit and miss story with some awesome stuff and some not so...

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Send comments to sv_godspeed (BETA) | Report this review (#402111)
Posted Thursday, February 17, 2011 | Review Permalink

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