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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.