Show Me How To Live

"When the masses in a movement clamor for a reunion, it’s only a matter of time (or economics) before such reunifications occur. Danish progressive metal band Royal Hunt may have started with Henrik Brockmann on vocals, but his replacement DC Cooper brought the band to international acclaim in the mid-90’s with such premier releases as Moving Target and especially 1997’s Paradox.

Following DC’s departure in 1998 for a solo career and the melodic power act Silent Force, keyboardist Andre Andersen found more than capable singers to helm the band with John West and Mark Boals during the past decade, but 13 years later, Cooper returns on this 11th studio platter, Show Me How to Live. Latest acquisition Jonas Larsen on guitar (coming into the fold this year) gains parallel responsibility with Andre for driving much of the Royal Hunt riff train, spitting out some 70’s-like Blackmore licks against his neo-classical/symphonic keyboard landscape on standout tracks such as the majestic “An Empty Shell” and relatively up tempo “Half Past Loneliness."

The quintet feature the 10 minute-plus title track near the second half of the album, a sweeping epic ballad that showcases all phases of the DC Cooper melodic power range such as note sustaining movements, tender restraint in many verses, and his multi-part harmonies during the chorus with longtime luminaries Kenny Lubcke and Maria McTurk proving background assistance.

Unlike many of their contemporaries, the seven songs on Show Me How to Live clock in at a tidy 43 minutes, giving the listener adequate time to digest the material without feeling information overload. Whatever personal differences may have happened appear to be water on the bridge, as DC and Andre seem to know each other’s strengths and make for some memorable progressive metal that’s potent without going overboard on the technical virtuoso side of things.

All corners of the globe will want this, especially the longtime Royal Hunt followers." - Blistering.com

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    $11.00
  • "It seems these days that metal musicians collaborate with players from other bands quite a bit. Personally, I have mixed feelings when these collaborations happen. Sure, they can make some great music, but for some reason I tend to prefer what said players do with their main bands as opposed to their cross–band work. OSI is an exception to that.Started in 2002 by Fates Warning Guitarist Jim Matheos and former Dream Theater keyboardist Kevin Moore, OSI has remained a long–distance cooperative between the two. Several guest musicians have been brought in for each of their records, such as drummers Mike Portnoy and Gavin Harrison, bassists Sean Malone and Joey Vera, and vocalists Tim Bowness and Mikael Åkerfeldt. This most recent effort, their fourth, sees Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree) returning on drums, with Moore taking care of lyrics and main vocals. Matheos and Moore worked together on all other aspects of the music.As I said earlier, I typically listen to these kinds of albums once or twice and then return to their normal band’s material. But Fire Make Thunder isn’t an album to do that to; sure, it sounds very much like what you’d imagine this trio would create, but all three players are known for creating some great music on their own. And here, put together, they don’t disappoint.The opening track “Cold Call” and the follow–up “Guards” have a sort of sinister tone to it, but aren’t very aggressive tracks. “Indian Curse” is completely void of drums and percussion of any sort, and sounds rather bleak. It’s a good song, but don’t listen to it on a dark, rainy day in March. “Enemy Prayer” is much more metallic than its predecessors on the album, sounding a bit closer to what these two wrote in their main projects. It’s also an instrumental track, a key component of a prog metal record. “Big Chief II” continues the picked up the tempo a bit, and the guitars sound a bit angrier. But the vocals don’t really get that intense, lending a sense of control to the turmoil. “Invisible Men” clocks in at just under ten minutes long, so these two haven’t lost their touch when it comes to lengthy songs either.Thinking of something to compare this album to was difficult at first, but then it hit me. This album is like a horror movie that uses menace to scare, playing on the viewer’s mind, rather than excessive gore or monsters leaping suddenly out of nowhere. Granted, this music isn’t scary, but one can’t help but notice its dark tone. The ambience it captures is one of many things that make this album great. The album artwork is another–I like how the cover kind of reflects the primitive nature of the title, Fire Make Thunder.If the only kind of Prog Metal you’re into is twenty–minute songs with six trillion notes in them, this album won’t interest you in the slightest. None of these songs get even close to becoming exercises in technical wizardry. They are simply well written songs. Each one sounds unique enough that they don’t blend together. They’re short enough to keep just about any listener’s attention for the entire songs’ duration, and there’s enough creativity in each one to ensure that. Moore and Matheos have proved they can write material as well as any prog legend, without having to play more notes than God. This is an album both novices and prog experts will enjoy. Good job, OSI." - Muzikreviews.com
    $11.00
  • "When I did my first listen to the opening and title track of Secret Sphere’s upcoming release, Portrait of a Dying Heart, I knew instantly that I was going to run out of adjectives for “awesome” before the review was done. It opens with a soft chime, then another, a quick announcement of something amazing to come, and it does. With a quick buildup, the textbook thunderous opening chord is hit, and the song goes from zero to hell yeah in a heartbeat. There is a personal term I like to use, an ”epic moment”, that describes those moments in a song, especially in prog songs, when all the jumping around and teasing and tension that is inherent in prog music is released and all the instruments come together, creating that personal release, that little moment of music that I thrive for. The opening track, Portrait of a Dying Heart has about five of these, and it’s an instrumental overture. The album kicks it up another five notches when the vocals enter the mix.Founded in 1997 by guitarist Aldo Lonobile in, Secret Sphere has been showcasing their own brand of symphonic power metal over a span of fifteen years and six albums, and even the departure of long time lead singer Ramon Messina didn’t stop them, as they found the amazing pipes of Michelle Luppi to take over on their new album.  Fellow founding member Andy Buratto on bass, Federico Pennazzato on drums, Marco Pastorino on rhythm guitar, and Gabriele Ciaccia on keyboards fill out the rest of the band. While they credit heavyweights such as Dream Theater, Helloween, and Savatage among their influences, Secret Sphere has definitely evolved a sound all their own.Portrait of a Dying Heart is a concept album, based on the short novel She Complies with the Night by author Costanza Columbo, and commissioned by Lonobile. The full text of the story is included in the release disc, but was unavailable at the time of this review; so many secrets will be awaiting the listener and this very anxious author. As to the album, holy crap is it good. Secret Sphere is classified as symphonic metal, but that term really doesn’t do justice to the sound of this latest release, it is a step beyond. Though symphonic elements are definitely present, they don’t by any means carry the musical timbre of the album, the sound presented here is one step up the evolutionary ladder from most symphonic metal fare.After the six minute overture is X, the track that introduces the story, and it does it in fantastic bard-like fashion. The opening guitar squeals are accompanied by expertly done flourishes from the rhythm and the drums immediately set a breakneck, frantic pace, setting up a suspenseful atmosphere for the coming events. 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I don’t say this often, but this song for me is near perfection, everything fits together so well.With the tone set, the album digs into telling the story in full, with a spectrum of styles and paces. It truly is a musical narrative, events and emotions ebb and flow throughout the album.  The next song, Union, takes on a softer tone, adding an organized edge to the metal. It is catchy as hell, and sets a silent fervor in motion for The Fall, which has epic all over it. All hands are in play in this one, another searing track that leaves the listener breathless.The album carries on in this fashion throughout its entirety. The multitude of musical styles and themes are performed wonderfully by every member of the band. Lonobile is a monster at lead, and Pastarino carries a heavy load on rhythm superbly. The drumming is frantic yet precise, the fills and rolls just fantastic. Bass is a subtle undertone of organized thunder, and the keys carry the heavy weight of the symphonic elements so well. Add to it Luppi’s vocals, which are emotional and powerful throughout, and Secret Sphere delivers all the requisite parts, firing on all the right cylinders. Collectively though, they combine to create a truly special piece of music.From beginning to end, Portrait of a Dying Heart is a musical narrative in every sense of the term, it carries the listener through a slew of emotional states. The album is not only a summation of its talented parts, but also has a touch of ethereal wonder, something uncommon in the genre. There is a hurried sense of desperation, almost akin to that feeling of trying to hang on to the world with a single string that is slipping fast, that is carried throughout the work. 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    $14.00
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  • "ssa, the Norwegian Rock Diva, is back with a blistering new album Can't Stop . Since her debut Sign of Angels , she has often been compared to such music stars as Celine Dion, Avril Lavine and Amy Lee (Evanesence).Issa has created her own style and approach to Melodic Rock by mixing her peculiar and unique melodic sensibility with a rocking attitude which is not all too common in today's Pop singers: real rock with a commercial sheen.The new album Can't Stop sees Issa taking a stab at some obscure and classic Melodic Rock tracks originally performed by Mark Free, Aviator, 21 Guns, Atlantic, Regatta and othersProduced by Hardlines's Alessandro Del Vecchio, Can't Stop shows that Issa is a true rock diva on the rise, who is bent on alighting the hearts and minds of Melodic Rock fans for years to come."
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  • Second release from this German band and frankly its a huge improvement from their debut. Dante skirt the fine line between neoprogressive rock and progressive metal. The music is quite melodic and there is some heaviness in the guitarwork...and yeah the keyboardist likes to shred like Jordan does...so maybe they can slip into the metal category. File these guys along side Ricochet.
    $3.00
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    $8.00
  • Riverside is a way of expressing reflections, dreams and fantasies through music. It is an idea for exposing emotions, for an escape from the grey or unnaturally overcoloured reality. It is music inspired by a time, a place, a thought and a word, a figment of their own and other people's imagination. It is joy and sadness, a whisper and a scream. This young Polish band has created an emotional musical journey through dark and moody atmospheres that find kindred spirits in Porcupine Tree, Opeth, Anathema, and Pink Floyd. With a sound that encompasses prog, psychedelia, metal and even alternative rock, Riverside is poised to break through to a wider audience. The gorgeous full color booklet, designed by award winning digital artist/graphic designer Travis Smith is the visual counterpart to Riverside's music, perfectly capturing the mystical spirit of "Out Of Myself". Riverside has been invited to perform at NEARfest 2005. They will be the opening band on the 2nd day of the festival.
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  • They don't come as often as we'd like but a new Vanden Plas album is almost a guaranteed success.  Chronicles Of The Immortals may well be their best effort yet.  It sounds like Vanden Plas that we know and love but scaled up.  The band collaborated with noted German author Wolfgang Holbein to create a rock opera.  After a series of live performances the band hit the studio and shaped it into the first half of a duology.  Highly recommended."Four years after the release of The Seraphic Clockwork, German progressive metallers Vanden Plas are back with their seventh full-length Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld. Known for creating highly detailed conceptual albums, in 2012 the band teamed up with Germany’s one of the biggest selling authors Wolfgang Hohlbein to create a rock opera for the stage based on his The Chronicle of the Immortals series of novels. The resulting rock musical named Bloodnight ended up having 25 sold-our performances during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.The next challenge for Andy Kuntz and Vanden Plas was to adapt the theatre musical to the Vanden Plas standards and produce an album comprised of the first act of Bloodnight. Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld – Path 1 is a full title of the record that includes ten songs. The release of Path 2, the final part of the story will be released early in 2015.Musically speaking, since the release of their debut Colour Temple Vanden Plas continued to mature and improve – eventually hitting the top with 2006′s Christ 0. However, Netherworld proves to be the band’s most demanding release. In most cases, the problem with conceptual albums is that the music suffers the lack of quality on behalf of the actual story or opposite, but Vanden Plas relying on experience forged a record that possibly may serve as a light of hope for progressive metal in 2014.One of the biggest differences between this one and the previous Vanden Plas efforts lies exactly in the theatrical atmosphere Netherworld brings. Although it can be said that the visual factor is on par with music on almost every Vanden Plas album, it’s Netherworld that stands out for the balance between the two. Heavily rooted in the progressive metal genre with plenty of melodic lines on top of it, the whole story is dependant to Kuntz‘s interpretation and singing.The album flows as a single song, although it’s divided into ten songs (visions) what ultimately brings to mind that these ten titles are there just to separate the distinctive parts or moods of the whole story. These parts are pretty well balanced, the story dynamic follows the music. And what is perhaps most important for a progressive metal album today – it incorporates a number of different elements.Three crucial segments for a Vanden Plas album are strong melodic side, progressive metal and conceptual story. And these three segments are present on Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld. In which measure, time will be the best judge." - Prog-sphere.com
    $13.00
  • "Suddenly, Polish progressive-rock bands are infiltrating the international scene. While many of them are reaching new audiences thanks to the rise of the homeland's Metal Mind Productions, ProgRock Records in the United States managed to nab one of the best. Sandstone initially was formed in 2001 without a keyboard player. But as the band's sound evolved into a hybrid of neo-progressive and progressive-metal music – think, maybe, Arena meets Dream Theater – the quartet quickly realized it needed keys to add texture and depth to its songs.Sandstone's debut, Looking For Myself, is an expansive, six-song journey chronicling one man's struggle for nothing more than to love and to be loved. It sounds more upbeat than Riverside (arguably one of the biggest acts to come out of Poland in recent years) and less technical than Dream Theater. But the sheer ambition of these songs – only one of which clocks in at shorter than seven and a half minutes – propels Looking For Myself into the ranks of those debut discs that leave listeners not only wanting more but also wondering where else the band could take the music. The best indication of Sandstone's capabilities can be heard on "Birth of My Soul," which opens with clear and concise soloing from guitarist Jarek Niecikowski and eventually reaches David Gilmour aspirations near the song's conclusion. Vocalist Marcin Zmorzynski's thick accent is a minor distraction early on, but getting used to it is easy.As is listening to this album." - Sea Of Tranquility
    $3.00
  • Gerard is a Japanese symphonic rock band led by keyboardist Toshio Egawa.  The band recorded two very nice albums in the mid-80s that had a bit of a debt to Genesis.  Irony of Fate is the band's third album and it was released in 1991 after many years of silence.  The sound changed a bit as it really played up Egawa's keyboards lending a bit of an ELP atmosphere to their sound.
    $9.00