Royal Hunt takes an intriguing place as one of those legendary progressive metal bands that I have never heard about until recently. Having been around about as long as Dream Theater, this band has been making their classically-influenced brand of progressive metal since the style was crawling on all fours. Over twenty years into their career now, the art of album-making is nothing new to these Danes, and ‘Show Me How To Live’ reflects that confidence and experience. With a firm grip on their melodic style, Royal Hunt creates an experience that is almost certain to impress lovers of both progressive and neoclassical metal.
As a newcomer to the music of Royal Hunt, the first band that this Danish act reminded me of were Kamelot. Although Royal Hunt predate Kamelot by years, their sound has developed into one that parallels the trend in neoclassical metal. Operatic ‘power metal’ vocals, symphonic keyboards, dramatic melodies and spitfire musicianship are all elements of Royal Hunt’s music, and despite the fact that the style of music that this band plays is no longer ‘my thing’ so to speak, ‘Show Me How To Live’ has stood to me as a memorable album, solid in most respects. With the exception of the bold title track, the songwriting here is based in a hard rock tradition. While these songs are exciting enough to go off on instrumental escapades as per prog metal canon, they are centred around powerful choruses that reflect the band’s skill with writing melodies, and depth of arrangement. The symphonic elements that Royal Hunt choose to season their music with are never too elaborate, but add a touch of extra class to what they do.
The largest qualm with Royal Hunt’s sound is that while their neoclassical take on melodic metal may have been more adventurous back when the band was first starting out, Royal Hunt’s established style is beginning to show signs of age. This album may be the band at their most professional-sounding, but by the second or third track of this record, little comes as a surprise. Regardless, ‘Show Me How To Live’ is a passionately performed and tastefully composed album by these underrated legends, and although Royal Hunt finds themselves amidst a sea of melodic metal sound-alikes, they manage to stand out.