R O Y A L ..H U N T

Land of Broken Hearts Royal Hunt - Land of Broken Hearts (Rondel) 1994

1. "Running Wild" (5:09)
2. "Easy Rider" (4:59)
3. "Flight" (4:00)
4. "Age Gone Wild" (4:32)
5. "Martial Arts" [instrumental] (1:52)
6. "One by One" (4:34)
7. "Heart of the City" (3:43)
8. "Land of Broken Hearts" (4:41)
9. "Freeway Jam" [instrumental] (1:32)
10. "Kingdom Dark" (4:28)
11. "Stranded" (4:41)
12. "Day in Day Out" (3:21)

'Land of Broken Hearts' is a keyboard dominated, neo-classically influenced heavy metal platter. Picture a mixture of Europe and Yngwie Malmsteen. The guitar playing isn't as fancy as Yngwie, but the keyboard playing especially reminded me of him. However, the vocal melodies are much more commercial, and catchy. The heavier tracks like "Running Wild," "Flight" and "Kingdom Dark" are all quite good, although there are a few well written ballads as well ("Age Gone Wild" and "Land of Broken Hearts"). Henrik Brockmann's mid-range vocals fit well the music quite well. His vocal melodies along with the layered backing vocals were quite impressed. My only real complaint is that the guitars are mixed in the background, rather than being out front where I'd prefer to hear them. Andre Anderson doubles as the band's guitarist and keyboardist for this disc, so I can't understand why there wasn't a more even mix between the two instruments.

Royal Hunt - Moving Target (Magna Carta) 1995

1. "Last Goodbye" (6:33)
2. "1348" (4:23)
3. 'Makin' a Mess" (4:00)
4. "Far Away" (4:58)
5. "Step by Step" (5:11)
6. "Autograph" [instrumental] (3:36)
7. "Stay Down" (4:21)
8. "Give it up" (4:01)
9. "Time" (4:53)
10. "Far Away" [Acoustic Version] (4:38)
11. "Restless" (3:20)

With this album came arrival of singer D. C. Cooper. Their sound finds itself somewhere between early 90's Fates Warning and Shadow Gallery, or basically progressive metal. Since I am unfamiliar with their earlier cd, I can't really say how much the band improved from those album, but according to several other albums I read, this disc is a vast improvement over "Clown In The Mirror." Apparently, from what I have read, the sound and production is heavier than "Clown In The Mirror" as well. Well, what I do know for sure is that this is a high quality progressive metal release. Heavy at times, melodic at others. Dynamic songwriting. Killer vocals. I was hooked by the first two tracks. What distinguishes this disc from many other prog-metal bands is that the songs, while being complex, are not overly so. They leave room for something memorable and allow for some repetition within a song. "Step by Step" is a perfect example as it contains the classic verse/chorus/verse structure with a catchy chorus. Oh, but I guess that is not cool within the confines of prog-metal. Well, who cares what is cool and what is not? I like it! However, the band can show off their talent when they need to. Just check out the searing neo-progressive instrumental "Autograph".

Where Blood & Fire REst Royal Hunt - Paradox (Imperial/Japan) 1997

1. "The Awakening" (1:39)
2. "River of Pain" (7:14)
3. "Tearing Down the World" (5:32)
4. "Message to God" (5:41)
5. "Long Way Home" (5:54)
6. "Time Will Tell" (9:31)
7. "Silent Scream" (6:13)
8. "It's Over" (6:15)

Yet another progressive metal band I heard about while exploring the many metal sites on the net. This one I had read mixed reviews about. AMG's review of "Paradox" states that it is a "masterpiece." Others stated things like "zzzzzzzzzzz...great musicians, great singer, but boring, long-winded arrangements with too much empty space..." So, before obtaining this disc I posted on a metal board asking what others thought of them. Most replies were similar, "Their old stuff is cool especially 'Paradox'! They were killer then but since DC left, they have constantly gone down." OK, so I guess if I am going to check out this band, I had better check out 'Paradox' first. Well, after several listens I have mixed emotions and can see why someone would call this a masterpiece, while someone else would say it was boring. While I think Paradox is a well written, and well executed, progressive metal album, it certainly doesn't leave any lasting impression on me either. Perhaps after more listens as it becomes more familiar I will like it better. Upon the first few listens I can say that the vocals are strong, and several of the songs like "Message to God" and "Long Way Home" are dynamic and have the potential to become favorites as time goes on. This particular copy is a Japanese import, complete with obi, that is in a miniature album cover complete with inner sleeve, an extra booklet and plastic cover. Cool collector's disc.

Show Me How... Royal Hunt - Show Me How To Live (Frontiers) 2011

1. One More Day (6:15)
2. Another Man Down (5:16)
3. An Empty Shell (4:35)
4. Hard Rain's Coming (5:15)
5. Half Past Loneliness (5:38)
6. Show Me How To Live (10:06)
7. Angel's Gone (5:12)

My first discovery of Royal Hunt was "Paradox" back in the mid-90's. It was a keyboard-laced, progressive, neo-classical rock album with smooth, soaring vocals. Vocalist DC Cooper was definitely one of the shining stars of the show on that particular disc. The band parted ways with Cooper and moved forward with new vocalists. Fast forward over a decade and "Show Me The Way" is the eleventh studio album from Denmark's Royal Hunt and marks the return of DC Cooper.

Being that Royal Hunt is the brainchild of keyboardist Andre Andersen, it's no surprise that "Show Me the Way" is a lush, majestic, keyboard heavy album. At times the music sounds like a movie soundtrack, especially the symphonic opening to "One More Day". I would describe it as medieval, symphonic, battle music. It's almost as if you can see the horses and knights lining up for battle before the war breaks up as the song builds. Oddly enough, however, when the song kicks in it's not a fury of heavy guitars. Rather, the song continues to be keyboard heavy with the guitars playing a minor background role. For the most part, this is the case with the entire album. The music is classically inspired and built around layers of vocals and keyboards, keyboards and more keyboards. There are a few moments when the guitars are allowed to shine, such as the guitar solo breakdown in the middle of the album's first single "Hard Rain's Coming". For the most part, however, Royal Hunt are all about lush keys. They have returned to their melodic "power metal" sound. (I cringe at keyboard driven music like this being labeled power metal, when in the 1980's power metal was guitar driven bands like Metal Church, early Helloween, Meliah Rage, etc. who rode a fence between traditional heavy metal and thrash, thus the term power metal.)

The album is a bit short, especially by modern standards, clocking in at just under forty minutes. Frankly, I think this works to the band's advantage. Those who enjoy the band's melodic, symphonic sounds will be left wanting for more, rather than being lulled to sleep by massive overkill. The longest song clocks in at just over ten minutes long. The epic title track is the centerpiece of the album. The song is slightly progressive and combines symphonic elements with layered vocals and neo-classical overtones. Once again, the keyboards drive the music, though the guitars do breakout with small fills and a short lead break. If Yngwie Malmsteen were a keyboard player rather than a guitarist, I'd be willing to be this is exactly the type of stuff he would be writing.

"Show Me How to Live" is a perfect example of how cheesy European power metal can be. It's chock full of keyboards, classical arrangements, keyboards, kings, queens and guillotines, oh and and more keyboards. However, there's something to be said for cheesy being enjoyable from time to time, and "Show Me How to Live" is an enjoyable album. The songs are memorable, the musicianship is undeniable, the vocals superb and the production flawless. This is what Royal Hunt does and they do it well.

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