Monday, January 13, 2014

ROYAL HUNT: ”A Life To Die For”

Rating: RRRRR
Label: Frontiers 2013
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Royal Hunt's reunion with vocalist DC Cooper on "Show Me How To Live" album a couple of years ago was a success. ”A Life To Die For” is a worthy successor to it, an equally fine piece of work. It's a big, pompous and bombastic album, yet never pretentious or too complicated for its' own good. Mastermind Andre Andersen has written some of his finest melodies for it and DC Cooper's performance is just astounding. It sounds like he's really stretching his vocal style, throwing in some operatic things and changing character like a chameleon. Although the whole band is highly talented, somehow Cooper steals the show this time, more than on "Show Me How To Live". His singing is such a joy to listen to, you never know what he comes up with.

There are only seven songs on the album which is not a lot, but this time we're talking about quality over quantity. Besides, two of the songs are on the epic side of things, namely the opening track "Hell Comes Down From Heaven" (9:28) and the title track (8:38). With all the other tracks being 5-6 minutes long, it's not like you don't get enough music for your money! Anyway, let's take a quick look at the songs one by one...

"Hell Comes Down From Heaven" might be the longest song on the album, but it doesn't feel like it. Okay, the first two minutes include a lengthy intro and the first time you'll hear DC Cooper is at 2:40, so basically the song itself is around seven minutes. It is a very typical Royal Hunt song with somewhat familiar-sounding melodies and not one of my favourites, but a good one all the same. The faster " A Bullet's Tale" features DC Cooper in a wild mood, he does some strange things with his vocals and I like the highly melodic chorus a lot. "Running Out Of Tears" is another ultra-melodic gem, the chorus borders on being pop but I don't mind, it's very catchy. "One Minute Left To Live" follows, a trademark uptempo RH track with a superb chorus again.

If "Running Out..." flirted with pop, "Signs Of Yesterday" doesn't flirt anymore, it's tangled up in the heat of the moment with it... No doubt some of you will find it too poppy or even "schlager" but I have to admit I love it, it's an irresistably catchy mix of slavic pop melodies and metal. You wouldn't think that Army Of Lovers would pop up in a Royal Hunt review but guess what? It just did... pay attention to DC's crazy vocal acrobatics towards the end of the track, fantastic stuff!

As if the previous few super-melodic tracks were too much, "Won´t Trust, Won´t Fear, Won´t Beg" takes us back to Heavy Metal. It's melodic as well, but much slower and heavier than anything else on the album. It's my least favourite track on the album but it's not bad, the competition is just so tough. Then we have the album's second "epic", the title track. This must be one of the shortest 8-minute songs I've heard, as it doesn't feel like that long at all. Another killer chorus and another superb vocal performance from Cooper.

When half of the material on an album is worthy of a place on a band's "Best Of" album and the rest of the material isn't far behind, how would you rate that album? On a scale of one to five? I think it's worth the full set of "R's"!


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