Royal Hunt – A Life To Die For

November 7, 2013 in Reviews by Arno Callens

royal huntRoyal Hunt – A Life To Die For (2013)
Reviewed by Arno Callens

Sometimes it feels like Royal Hunt is ten bands at once. I myself am quite fond of the early Royal Hunt with Henrik Brockmann and Paradox with D.C. Cooper, and have only scattered impressions of everything before Cooper showed up again. Right now Royal Hunt is on its second run with him, and for the sake of consistency, little has changed since the strong Show Me How To Live. Except that as its title suggests, the predecessor was still searching for the right sound, and again as its title suggests: A Life To Die For has found it.

From the start there’s no doubt this is a direct sequel. Bombastic orchestras, emotional hooks, and a mood that’s larger than life. “Hell Comes Down From Heaven” is about as subtle as a string quartet pummeling you with their instruments, yet Cooper lends the proceedings a sense of gravitas. After two albums with Iron Mask, it’s baffling why the Danes ever let Mark Boals go, as this material would fit him just as well, but now that Silent Force goes on without Cooper, I’m glad he has a home.

A Life To Die For throws a lot of lofty songs at him, and he transforms them all into gold. Whether it’s huge hits like the opener, the sublimely catchy “One Minute Left To Live”, the whopping title track, or more personal songs like the dramatic “A Bullet’s Tale” and the slightly corny “Running Out Of Tears”, Cooper leaves no note unfelt. It helps that a taste for the theatrical has been in this band’s DNA since the start (“Land Of Broken Hearts” anyone?), and whatever they were in the past, I feel Royal Hunt is never stronger than when they fully embrace this trait. It’s a little pompous, it’s a little grotesque, but the Danes never commit less than a hundred percent, which makes it ever so convincing.

At seven songs, A Life To Die For may seem like A Price To Whine About, but it’s  more than worth your money. First off, it’s flanked by two sizeable epics, secondly, not a second is wasted, and last but not least, there is always the repeat button. A Life To Die For is  – *sigh* – to die for (I had to, I just had to), and despite Henrik Brockmann being AWOL, I feel the Royal Hunt of old is back for good.

4.25 // 5