CD Reviews

Royal Hunt - 'Show Me How To Live' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     December 04, 2011    
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A mini Metal opera from start to finish.

Royal Hunt founder, multi-instrumentalist, composer, lyricist and producer Andre Andersen having started talking on Skype with his former vocalist recently, decided after some fruitful discussions to re-introduce DC Cooper back into his band after a 13 year absence and thus in the process re-ignite the fire they had back in 1998 when Royal Hunt seemed on the verge of a major breakthrough. Their momentum slipped somewhat after DC’s departure although the quality of releases were still high and replacement vocalists such as John West and Mark Boals were of a major league calibre.

It’s possible that the bubble for the neo-classical style pioneered by Yngwie J. Malmsteen had burst at that point with a saturated market and Royal Hunt, because of Andre’s classical influences, were bracketed in that category and became victims of their own success. Everybody loves a label! Fast forward to the present and what we have here is arguably the finest release bearing DC’s name under the Royal Hunt banner. A fabulous album cover of a Templar-style Knight thrusting forward with banners flutteringby artist Kai Brocksmidt offers an insight into the type of sounds contained within the disc. All the songs are expertly woven like a tapestry of many colours and images as Andre Andersen paints vast landscapes with a dynamism of epic proportions, both equally demanding in places yet forgiving in quantitive measures, dancing in transcendental eurhythmical fashion like raindrops upon a swaying ocean.

It’s a real tour de force of musicality, full of melody and classical orchestration, exhilarating shredding from the young guitar hero Jonas Larsen, intricate drum patterns from Allan Sorensen and pounding bass from relative new boy Andreas Passmark.

It’s like DC has never been away as his familiar high-end melodic vocals cut in amidst swathes of classical keys on opener ‘One More Day’ after the sounds of battle on the intro that tie-in with the album cover lend way to an orchestral beginning. The interplay between Andersen’s keyboards and Larsen’s guitar on the solo is what Royal Hunt are renowned for but the chorus is simply stunning with fabulous echo effects that I swear could bring down the walls of Jericho!

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Michelle Raitzin (replacing the departed Lise Hansen) duets with DC in ‘Another Man Down’ which has a melancholic vibe with lyrics to match and smooth melodies featuring nice key changes from Andre throughout and a wah wah solo from Larsen before he decides to imitate Malmsteen and show everyone exactly what he’s capable of.. Sorensen also lends his considerable technique to proceedings with some good double bass drumming. In fact Larsen is allowed free range on every song including more Malmsteen style shredding on ‘An Empty Shell’ and a fast picking style on ‘Half Past Loneliness’ which allows him to show off his superb playing technique. He indulges in a fabulous harmonic picking style whilst dueting with Andersen’s keys as the interplay between them on the title track becomes very self indulgent in the instrumental mid-section. The whole ten minute song has an epic feel to it with a piano and strings intro, rumbling drums mid-section and choral backing vocals on the chorus. But it’s not all fast picking from the young Larsen as he plays a tastefully subtle solo on ‘Hard Rain Coming’ with some emotive notes and feel. This song features a Renaissance style Hammond intro from Andersen and superb arrangement throughout plus a great big sing-along chorus again with overlaid backing vocals.

The afore-mentioned ‘An Empty Shell’ is a schizophrenic neo classical piece that has DC mixing his high vocals with some Oliver Twist Fagin-esque style talking. There’splenty of demented keyboard soloing from Andersen leading to Larsen’s fast shredding, dramatic drumming from Sorensen and neat bass play from Passmark interspersed with Andre’s keys and lovely choral backing vocals from Maria McTurk and Alexandra Popova. Vying for favourite song though with ‘One More Day’ is the previously mentioned ‘Half Past Loneliness’ as a nice bass and drum intro from messrs Passmark and Sorensen gets the feet tapping and the head nodding. It features nice superfluous keys and Larsen’s harmonious guitar as well as his fast picking style on the solo but equally stand-out is the glorious ABBA-esque chorus. When DC sings “Half Past Loneliness I’m Wide Awake, How Much More A Wounded Broken Heart Can Take” one can’t help but feel his pain! Try as I might I couldn’t link it to any of |Benny and Bjorn’s creations but there-in lies Andre Andersen’s genius. A sense of familiarity from a number of influences yet with a uniqueness and originality bestowed on every composition, this album plays like a mini Metal opera from start to finish.

Carl Buxton

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