Danish symphonic metallers Royal Hunt have returned with their 12th studio album A Life To Die For. The album is the follow up to Show Me How To Live, which featured the return of classic vocalist DC Cooper to the band. As a whole, A Life To Die For doesn’t stray far from the formula of the last album. At seven songs clocking in at just 46 minutes, the album feels short, however on the plus side, this also means that the disc is free from filler songs and only displays the bands best foot forward. The album kicks off with the trademark majestic bombast that Royal Hunt does so well with the anthemic and dramatic Hell Comes Down From Heaven. The choice of using a real orchestra and choir really makes a difference sonically throughout the album. Keyboardist Andre Andersen’s performance is a highlight and is matched brilliantly with Coopers emotive vocal delivery. Guitarist Jonas Larsen’s guitar rhythms are understated but his neo-classical soloing is tasteful and fit the songs perfectly. The second track, A Bullet’s Tale begins with guest vocalist Alexandra Popov and a symphonic flourish. Drummer Allan Sørensen’s unique drum patterns set the tone on this dramatic symphonic rocker. Larsen’s guitar shredding capabilities are once again on display during the solo section. Running Out of Tears has a slow build, increasing with intensity into a melodic rock song with a huge and catchy chorus. One Minute Left To Live is an energetic symphonic metal song with top notch playing and an urgent quality to the vocals and tempo. The lyrics provide an important message of making the most of the time we have here on Earth.
The soft piano intro to Sign of Yesterday sets up a keyboard-laden song, which showcases DC Coopers emotive delivery. The use of a real orchestra and chorus really shines through on Won’t Trust, Won’t Fear, Won’t Beg, making those classical elements of the song sound even bigger. The song begins softly and increases in tempo and emotion as the song goes on until it reaches the final glorious crescendo. The albums final moment saves the best for last with the title track. Clocking in at over 8 minutes, the song highlights all of the bands strengths for progressive and symphonic hard rock. The chorus is a soaring anthem with chilling vocal harmonies and features Coopers finest performance on the album. The band continues to ride a fine creative streak now that DC Cooper has returned to the band. For those who are fans of Royal Hunt, you will be pleased with the album, although you may once again be disappointed with the albums short running time. I for one believe in quality over quantity. If you are new to the music of Royal Hunt but are a fan of symphonic hard rock or metal, I suggest giving this album a shot! The physical cd comes with a bonus dvd with live and studio footage that was not available for review but is a definite incentive to buy the disc versus mp3 download!