without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Royal Hunt will always be one of the bands that will never receive the recognition they deserve. They play an ultra-melodic brand of metal that is keyboard-driven, somewhat neo-classical, and aside from the modern production, wouldn't sound too out of place in the 1980's. Keyboard virtuoso Andre Andersen is the backbone of the band; his keyboard work is just as audible as the guitar is. He not only adds texture to the songs with synthesizers, he does a fair number of solos throughout the album as well, although never more than one per song, thankfully.
In contrast to many other bands led by a keyboardist, Andersen shares the spotlight with guitarist Jacob Kjaer; a wise decision because Kjaer's florid guitar work and stunning solos keep the album from sounding too monotonous. Check out the interplay between the two in "Tearing Down the World" and "Message to God."
Undoubtedly the best part of "Paradox," however, is the singing of D.C. Cooper. He has an unbelievable range and the choruses and harmonies with himself and with the rest of the band are the highlight of most of the songs on here. He has the rare ability to make the songs instantly accessible, yet keep them just as striking after several months of repeated listens. Cooper's singing on "Paradox" qualifies as one of the greatest vocal performances in the heavy metal genre.
Perhaps helping Cooper's vocal performance is the fact that the lyrics are consistently solid throughout the album. especially in "Message to God." It is refreshing to see the idea of questioning the existence of God handled in such a mature manner in a genre that normally displays no more intelligence than a lawn chair. There seems to be a continuing theme throughout the album, but it's difficult to discern what it actually is. The songs are connected to each other at times, and there are some spoken word clips at the end of a couple of songs, but the actual concept proves to be elusive. The lyrics are so good, however, that it is difficult to care.
There are really only two minor detriments to "Paradox." The first is that the chorus to "River of Pain" could have been a little stronger, perhaps because the pre-chorus is so amazing it is inevitable that the chorus would not measure up. Secondly, the epic "Time Will Tell" shows a slight drop in quality compared to the rest of the album, but it is still a solid song and should not be passed over.
From start to finish, "Paradox" is a remarkable listen. The songs are all unique and never start sounding the same or dragging along, even at the end. D.C. Cooper's vocal performance should be heard by all, it's a shame he left the band so soon after this was released, because he could have done so much more with Royal Hunt than he is currently doing with Silent Force.
This 1997 release by Swedish power metal band Royal Hunt firmly places them into the forefront of a new power metal sub-category of my own: Swedish keyboard-driven progressively-influenced power metal (SKDPIPM).
The characteristics of this genre? No problem - after all, by definition a genre should have distinguishable facets. SKDPIPM features a band that has as its mastermind a Swedish keyboard virtuoso, in this case Andre Andersen. He and his instrument drive the sound, are ever present atmospherically, are responsible for more than their fair share of soli - in short, they are in control. The guitars are heavy and crunchy, and do get their time in the solo limelight, but are subordinate to the keyboard. The rhythm section is more than capable, and lay down a solid power metal foundation. The vocals, here provided by one DC Cooper, are excellent power metal fare, often augmented by sweeping chorus work. All of the above is played very well indeed, and the production is top-notch. "Paradox" fulfills all of these characteristics.
The progressive influences are present, particularly in the length of the tracks. Not only is the average track length 6 minutes, but on two different ocassions tracks are combined into units of two parts, making a 14- and a 12-minute unit. There are tempo changes, and to a lesser degree mood changes, but they do not have the feel of truly progressive, complex metal, but are elements of really well-done power metal present here.
This CD is also one of the rainiest works around. Eh - excuse me? Well, during the entire intro track (which also serves as the first verse of the later "Long Way Home"); during the beginning and ending of the aforementioned "Long Way Home"; at the start of "Time Will Tell", and at the end of "It's Over", we have rain and wind atmospherics galore - to the extent that you really notice the amount of rain around here.
"Paradox" is very enjoyable, very well-done Swedish power metal - it could have a slot in most every power metal collection.
This album is what progressive is all about: absolutely lush and layered vocals sung by the incredibly talented DC Cooper, Andre Anderson's keyboards creating such an bombast and grand atmosphere interweaving and trading off with Jacob Kiaer's guitars beautifully, and accessible but complex melodies that have pop sensibilities, but manage to stay fresh after repeated listens.
Every song is a winner, but a few particularly stand out. River of Pain is a fantastic song with an addicting chorus, the kind you can't help but sing along. That would be the start of merely a trend consistent through the whole album. Catchy, grand choruses pop up in nearly every track. Message of God perfectly epitimizes that with not only the best chorus, but the best song of the album. The huge chorus has trade offs with Cooper and a choir that just envelopes the listener into a grand wall of sound. It has to be heard to understand its glory. Simply tremendous.
The whole album is brilliant, and is a worthy purchase of any progressive rock/metal fan. Cooper gives a breakout performance in his sophomore album with the band, and the songwriting is at its peak, intregrating all the instruments and vocals into a sonic treat. Very highly recommended.
This album shows fans what Royal Hunt is capable of. DC Cooper has an absolutely amazing voice and Andre Andreson shows why he is the leader and founder of the band with his amazing work on the keyboard(or keytar if you prefer). Message To God is one of the most well written songs of its genre both lyrically and musically. River of Pain doesn't fall far behind. There is not really a completely horrible song on Paradox, but there may be a couple that tempt you to skip them because they start out kind of slow. If you are looking for a track that tests the abilities of the human voice, you'll enjoy Silent Scream. DC sounds like a god in the world of progressive metal on this album in particular, ranking right up there with Geoff Tate, Ray Alder, and James LaBrie.