Saturday, December 21, 2013

Royal Hunt-A Life To Die For

Frontiers Records

Released here in the U.S. earlier this month, "A Life To Die For" is the latest album from Danish act Royal Hunt. Following in the footsteps of the similarly-titled "Show Me How To Live", which previously saw the return of vocalist DC Cooper (Amaran's Plight, Missa Mercuria, D.C. Cooper, ex-Silent Force), this release makes album number twelve for a band that has seen countless line-up changes since first forming back in 1989. With sole surviving/original founding member keyboardist/guitarist André Andersen serving as producer (and doing a splendid job at it for what it's worth!) the band, which is rounded out by lead guitarist Jonas Larsen (ex-Barock), bassist Andreas Olsson (7days, Rob Rock, Stormwind, ex-Narnia, ex-Wisdom Call, ex-DivineFire, ex-Harmony) and drummer Allan Sorensen (Cornerstone, ex-Narita, Scarlet, ex-André Andersen, ex-Prime Time), has released an album that proves that wine isn't the only thing that gets better with age! "A Life To Die For" starts where 2011's "Show Me How To Live" left off and improves upon that album's solid melodic/progressive heavy metal by bringing in more symphonic elements and even a large choir! While I'm on record as saying that such additions usually detract from a metal album's overall appeal, which (to these old ears of mine) is usually true 75% of the time, here at least is one example of how to do it so that it actually enhances the metallic nature of your sound. With the way in which this band frames (what is otherwise) these classical elements it merely shines an extra spotlight on Royal Hunt's powerful melodic progressive metal. Yes, in regards to "powerful" and "melodic" that could be looked at as a oxymoron. Then again if you've ever heard the Danish act then you'll understand what I'm getting at. Sure, melodic metal lies at the very heart of this band and given how much the keyboards are employed in Royal Hunt that will likely never change. Even so lead guitarist Jonas Larsen gets his chance to shine and his playing often times adds a powerful edge to what is without a shadow of a doubt some of the best melodic power metal out there! As André Andersen employees flashy keyboard passages Jonas Larsen takes the listener on a journey of new discoveries! And by that I mean the great discovery that power metal can be as grand as it is empowering provided you have all the right set of players in place! Well, that and then the fact that there are still power metal outfits out there in this world of ours who haven't forgotten that power metal should be A) Powerful and B) Dead serious heavy! Royal Hunt falls into both of those categories even as they employee a small army of classical/orchestra personnel and a large choir! And while the album alone is a must for royal Hunt fans it gets even better when you realize that album number twelve from this Danish act includes  bonus DVD! Shot during the band’s last tour, the DVD features live music and interviews and it serves as the proverbial "cherry on the top" of this treat! For Royal Hunt fans this one is a given, but I'd also implore fans of melodic/progressive power metal to give this album a chance. Just between the skills of vocalist DC Cooper (who sings with some serious passion here!), guitarist Jonas Larsen and keyboardist/producer André Andersen there is plenty to love and appreciate about "A Life To Die For" and yet the whole band is top-notch and each and every song is well-written and planned out! If you've never had the privilege of hearing Royal Hunt before then this is as good of a place to start as any!  

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