Royal Hunt - The Clown In The Mirror

Year of Release: 1999
Label: Rondel
Catalog Number: RRCD 9009-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 40:54:00

I had some inkling of what to expect from Royal Hunt on Clown In The Mirror, having already reviewed their most recent studio album Moving Target. Of course, this 1995 release (now rereleased) featured all the same players except the vocalist, here it is Henrik Brockmann. To me, his voice sounds like a mix of a number of different artists, flexible to fit the mood of the song. He sounds a bit ... and I truly mean only a bit ... like Freddy Mercury on the title track. But perhaps that's because of this line: "The show must go on." "Clown In The Mirror" doesn't have the same impact that Queen's own "The Show Must Go On" - how could it. And just when I think I know what lyricist/keyboardist André Anderson is on about ... I find I'm not quite sure. Certainly a metaphor ... but really for so many things.

This plays better for me if I don't really think about the lyrics and think of the vocals as just another instrument. And Henrik has pretty good voice ... the other vocalist he made me think of is Maurits Kalsbeek of Egdon Heath (who aren't a prog-metal band, however), and on the title track only, really.

Nonetheless, many of these tracks read to me like adolescent musings ... not that there isn't a degree of sophistication in their construction, their arrangement and performance, but topically ... okay, "Ten To Life" for example. To me it reads as if the correct course of action is a shooting an antagonizer, rather than the opposite. "Hey mister 'know it all' - what the hell you gonna do/When a jerk like that take a swing at you/You'll run for cover, you'll spit him in the eye/You'll put the trigger! - dont tell me lies"

Oookay. Yes, don't turn the other check, don't be the better man, don't hire a lawyer, shoot the sucker instead. Hmm, yes, that's good advice, isn't it? Get ya ten to life ... I hope I'm reading this all wrong.

Guess this is why the track that works best for me is the instrumental "Third Stage." No, that's not fair, the music is great here. I love the way it sounds and the way the tracks are arranged. This is on the lighter side of progressive metal of course, vocal harmonies ... just this side of Skid Row and the like. "Bodyguard," aside from a bit of crunch, could very well be a DeYoung-penned Styx track (since they're on my mind now). No, better comparision is some of Robert Plant's more playful stuff - "Mama Said You Cried In Your Sleep" is what comes to mind, actually. Though, it doesn't even sound like that track. Bass is up front, very big, bouncy, deep but light.

This also plays like a concept album, where the realization comes in "Legion of The Damned," perhaps my favourite vocal track because it works. Sure there are some awkward rhymes ... that is, using "sun" for "light" to make it rhyme with "gun" ... as in "you'll see the light."

Because Anderson is the main songwriter, keys are more out front here on most tracks, but not all. Harmonies are the most pervasive feature here, not just on choruses but on versus, too. And hey, there's what sounds like a string and brass section on the "Epilogue" ... sounds like cellos, violins, and French horn to me ... but I'm sure it's Anderson's keys. Great track really, second best here ... nah, first best.

So, if you like well played progressive rock/metal, then this album should fit the bill; as I'll continue to listen to it and not dwell too much on the lyrics. This isn't harsh metal, no wince-inducing vocal pyrotechnics or shreeches ... as Larry D likes to say, there's melodic warmth here ... maybe just a little too warm, a little too soft.

Intro / Wasted Time (3:38) / Ten To Life (3:37) / On The Run (3:15) / Clown In The Mirror (4:33) / Third Stage (1:47) / Bodyguard (4:13) / Legion Of The Damned (5:02) / Here Today, Gone Tomorrow (4:13) / Bad Blood (3:56) / Epilogue (6:00)

Andr? Anderson - keyboards and guitars
Kenneth Olsen - drums
Henrik Brockmann - lead and backing vocals
Steen Mogensen - bass
Jacob Kjaer - guitars

Land Of The Broken Hearts (1992)
Clown In The Mirror (1993)
The Maxi EP (1993)
Moving Target (1995)
Far Away (ep) (1995)
Live 1996 (1996)
Double Live In Japan (1996)
Paradox (1997)
Closing The Chapter (1998)
Fear (1999)
The Mission (2001)
The Watchers (2002)
Eyewitness (2003)
Paper Blood (2005)
Live 2006 (2006) Paradox II: Collision Course (2008)
X (2010)
Show Me How To Live (2011)
A Life To Die For (2013)
Devil's Dozen (2015)

Live 2006 (DVD) (2006)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin SE

Added: August 17th 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 890
Language: english


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