Royal Hunt - Paradox

Year of Release: 1997
Label: Magna Carta
Catalog Number: MA 2017-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 54:49:00

Royal Hunt remind me most of Shadow Gallery here on Paradox, sound and composition-wise, and yet ... there is none of that ... yes, my favourite word to describe aspects of SG ... saccharine. As I mentioned in my Moving Target review, I wasn't initially impressed with this, but because of Moving Target, I have become fond of DC Cooper's vocals and thought I'd give this another shot. Though, on reflection, it wasn't Cooper's vocals that put me off - I can't now tell you what it was, however.

What I like about Royal Hunt is that there is a strong effort towards composition ... by which I mean, it isn't just the same jackhammer drums, the exact same guitar attack, etc. for each track. There's a greater effort toward musicality then toward speed. This album has a very lush, symphonic sound - a big sound. For all its metal, its equal parts melodic, a dynamic between thundering drums, bass, guitars and lyrical keyboard and guitar passages. Given the religious bent to the album, there is that influence of church music ... the choral harmonies are the biggest sign of that. Sumptuous ... that is the word that instantly pops into my mind. This is a sumptuous album with lots to chew on, digest, absorb, ... you get the gist.

There is a passage during "It's Over" that is simply beautiful ... it's the symphonic keys that do it. Like a dozen violins in sync ... add a little cello to it for that rich undertone ... And there is a great lilting keyboard passage right at the end that alone would make you doubt this was a metal band. 'Course the bonus track "Martial Arts" kicks you right in the face, first with the a blast of classical sounding keys and then with its twin guitar runs (bass and guitar ... they're so in sync, I can't tell). But, the flute like keyboard passage reappears at the intro to "Long Way Home" ... I think this track was playing when the word sumptuous came to mind.

Why didn't I like this before? I don't know. Maybe I didn't give it as close a listening as I'm doing now. Whatever, this is a spectacular album overall.

Andre Anderson has improved as a lyricist on this album (from The Clown In The Mirror). This is a concept album ... which fits in with the trend I mentioned in my April 1999 editorial. Anderson's intent here is to "follow [a] man's acknowledgement of God on a journey through time in 'our' world, a world which man has been building since Creation." But, the crux of this conceit is this statement: "Throughout history man has both blamed God and credited God for things that are negative and destructive, which doesn't make sense. God does not create inquisitions, or start wars, God does not create evil, only man does..." Whatever your personal thoughts on God, whether he exists or not, you find you have to agree with that statement ... well, I can see a controversy about that statement, actually. But, I'll leave it at that here.

Although Anderson is the main songwriter, one track here, "The Final Lullaby," is a Steen Mogensen penned tune that closes out the album (hardly a lullaby as this baby rocks ... its more a eulogy ... for us.

Anyway, because Anderson does do the song writing, keys often are at the forefront, but none of the other band members are short changed. The synchronization that I found in Moving Target is here ... this is a far more muscular release however ... no metal edging toward teenybop. A solid metal/rock release.

Of the three I've reviewed so far, this may end up being my overall favourite ... ironic given my initial impression. Highly recommended.

Some notes: I see in the most recent issue of Progression that DC Cooper has, for one reason or another, left the band, so that makes me curious to see where they go next both musically and vocally. The two vocalists I've heard so far have had good, strong voices.

Also, in my Moving Target review, I made mention of not being a big prog metal fan ... in these past two weeks or so, that is slowly changing, due in part to Royal Hunt.

The Awakening (1:39) / River Of Pain (7:14) / Tearing Down The World (5:32) / Message To God (6:41) / Long Way Home (5:54) / Time Will Tell (9:31) / Silent Scream (6:13) / It's Over (6:15) / Martial Arts (1:49) / The Final Lullaby (4:01)

Jacob Kjaer - guitar
Steen Mogensen - bass
D C Cooper - vocals
Andr? Andersen - keyboards, 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 23rd 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1092
Language: english


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