Sound — 9
This album and "Moving Target" represent my first introduction to the band sometime in 2000, I think. It really blew me the first time I listened to it at the record shop in Jakarta. This might not be categorized under progressive music but I like it very much. It's a blend of pop-rock, metal, symphonic and neo-classical music. One thing for sure, all tracks in this album are all excellent - melodious, most of them upbeat keyboard- based music with some flavor of rocking electric guitar. The band is led by Andre Andersen (keys and guitars) backed up by DC Cooper (voice), Jacob Kjaer (guitars), Steen Mogensen (bass) and session player Allan Sorensen (drums). The music of Royal Hunt is unique in terms of keyboard sounds - it sounds like an orchestra behind their music. You will find also the influence of classical music in keyboard sound. It's interesting and very enjoyable music. I almost like all of their albums, regardless they are prog or not. Their music is so inspiring. Composition is top notch!
01. The Awakening: it's an album opener with a relatively short duration (1:39) and serves to set the whole atmosphere of the entire album. It consists of a stormy soundscape followed with simple acoustic guitar work to accompany the vocal, augmented with a flute sound from a keyboard. It's a melodic opening and ends up with a simple drumming that indicates the transition to next track.
02. River Of Pain: a wonderful track that starts seamlessly from previous track with simple solo drumming in a slow mode. At first listen this song seemed too simplistic for me as the tempo is probably too slow as a rock song. But when I observe into the structure and basic melody, I admire on how great the composition was written by Andersen as songwriter. It's composed very neatly and performed flawlessly so that I really enjoy the music. I lean that good music is not necessarily complex; even the simple music like this song is also wonderful. All musicians contribute their skills excellently.
03. Tearing Down The World: oh man. This song starts beautifully with a killing keyboard melody. Again, this song is truly melodic with a great vocal lines by DC Cooper and backing singers. Btw, DC is one of rock great singers I've ever known! Throughout this song you will hear very nice keyboard sounds as melody or as background during vocal singing part, augmented with some guitar work.
04. Message To God: this track starts with a catchy (but simple!) piano work with classical touch. The bass line by Steen Mogensen brings the entire instruments roll into the music in relatively medium / fast tempo. The electric guitar produces some soft riffs that accentuate the background music. It turns into great and stunning guitar solo during transition piece between lyrical passages. Keyboard still forms a basic components of this song with a lot of catchy melodies during lyrical passages as well as in transition segments. "Can't reach you, can't meet you. I gave you everything I've got.". It's a beautifully composed music!
05. Long Way Home: this song starts mellow with a simple acoustic guitar fills and catchy flute sound produced from keyboard instrument. It's a killing melody. DC voice enters nicely "When the night is calling.". The tagline melody of the intro is lending from the first track "The Awakening". But when the singing line increases to higher notes, it's different in melody. The keyboard plays important role in forming the basic melody. The drum starts to roll and bring the music into an upbeat tempo with guitar as rhythm combined with heavy use of keyboard sounds. Jacob Kjaer plays his stunning guitar solo in a slow rock style accentuated with great keyboard at the back. DC shows his ability to sing a high register notes. The song ends up with a nice flute sound (from keyboard) augmented with nice acoustic guitar work.
06. Time Will Tell: this is probably the true progressive metal vein from the band as it is indicated by the opening part of this song where the music is characterized by heavy riffs. The keyboard brings the music into an uplifting mood with some symphonic sounds. The transition pieces before the vocal enters the music is varied - exploring keyboard, bass as well as guitar. When the voice line enters, the music turns into a melodic metal music with excellent symphonic sounds produced by keyboard sounds. In the break between lyrical passages, the music turns into some wonderful symphonic orchestra kind of music using keyboard as main instrument that provides orchestration. Oh. What a WONDERFUL composition this one is! It's one of my all-time favorite tracks.
07. Silent Scream: it starts off with a catchy keyboard solo followed with some riffs that bring the music into a faster tempo followed with DC powerful voice. It's like a hard rock kind of music with powerful vocal in high register note. The only different thing is on how keyboard is added melodically, forming the basic rhythm melody. The music itself contains some beat surprise that creates an uplifting mood and energy. Bass line and drum form an excellent variations between musical segments. Jacob performs his guitar solo stunningly. This track ends beautifully with a great orchestration that flows seamlessly to the opening of the next track. Oh man... What a great composition!
08. It's Over: it starts off with an uplifting orchestration continued from the orchestration at the end of previous track. It's so powerful and so colossal that have made this track so wonderful. The orchestration suddenly stops with the entrance of DC voice into the music. The acoustic guitar solo in the middle of this track backed with the keyboard sound is really stunning. It is continued with short keyboard solo and it grows into a nice keyboard sound in a higher notes. At the end of this track, there is a piece of "The Awakening" part repeated shortly to conclude this album.
Overall Impression — 9
To summarize, this album is probably not as prog as you imagine. Basically, this is a melodic rock music with some orchestration keyboard style. It's up to you whether you consider this PROG or not as if you view it from the perspective of the approach the band has taken to compose the music, yeah man. you can say so. But, do not imagine this is in the vein of Dream Theater as this is not as heavy as DT. But in terms of composition that comprises song writing and arrangement, this album is truly TOP NOTCH! The production quality is also excellent. That's why I give full five stars rating solely for this respect, ignoring whether or not this is prog. My CD has two discs whereby disc two contains the live version of the album in its entirety, with the same song sequence. It's an excellent show. It would be wonderful if the DVD version of the show is released in the future. I hope. Highly recommended!