After DC Cooper made a name for himself as one of the finest voices in metal, mostly because of his albums with Royal Hunt, he was considered for the vocal spot in Iron Maiden and chosen best vocalist consecutively in Japan's BURRN! magazine. When Royal Hunt took a break from recording after their masterpiece Paradox, DC Cooper decided to put together a new album with highly acclaimed musicians he had befriended during his tours.
He first hooked up with guitarists Tore Ostby from Conception and Alfred Koffler from Pink Cream 69, with whom he sat down to write songs together. When the material was completed, two other Pink Cream 69 members, bassist Dennis Ward and drummer Kosta Zafirious, were brought in along with Vanden Plas' keyboardist Gunter Werno for the recording sessions. Ward and Zafiriou would also produce the record with impressive results. Interestingly enough, the same lineup except Tore Ostby would join forces again for the Missa Mercuria project a few years later. So if you're a fan of the last song on this disc, the Queen-like "The Union", with loads of vocal harmonies, technical and melodic passages, acoustic guitars, different vocalists (there's a great female vocalist guesting here), you should check Missa Mercuria out.
Even though DC Cooper refers to the band that performed and recorded this as The Alliance, they chose to release it as a self-titled DC Cooper disc. Quite different from his work with Royal Hunt and Silent Force, this album sees him exploring hard rock, melodic metal and even progressive metal territories, blending the three genres successfully. From the highly rocking songs "Dream" and "Within Yourself", both under the four-minute mark, displaying DC Cooper's exceptional vocal skills and excellent guitar melodies atop secretly pounding bass figures; to the more ballady "Until the End" where the band employs varied percussion and cello-like synth effects with blues-rock style guitars; to the Uriah Heep cover "Easy Living" that shows DC Cooper is capable of singing in any style whatsoever, this album is perhaps the most diverse record he has ever released.
Standouts include the dark "Angel Comes", featuring an intense interplay between the two guitarists and a terrific synth melody; as well as the proggy "Freedom", which kicks in after Werno's brief solo instrumental "Chained". His playing is speedy and even chaotic and always reminds me of the keys on Pain of Salvation's "A Trace of Blood", but it serves as an excellent piece to build the powerful intro of "Freedom". Great vocals that range from low registers to maniacal screams, shredding guitars, and shifting dynamics, this might be best track on the album. However, equally impressive are "Three Generations" that sees Tore Ostby dabbling in some Egyptian scales and the midtempo rocker "Forgive Me", underpinned by a strong rhythm duo. Dennis Ward's bass is amazing throughout on this disc. Even in the most straightforward cuts, such as the slightly power metallish "Take Me In", defined by lots of double bass drums, his bass presence is immediately noticeable. The aforementioned "Three Generations", for example, is actually a song that has a very dynamic bass line deep down on which the guitars and vocal harmonies are layered.
DC Cooper is one of the most amazing vocalists in metal and even though I feel his work with Royal Hunt will always be superior to his other stuff, I think this solo album is essential to anyone that enjoys the bands mentioned in this review as well as great melodic metal that is also unafraid to border on hard rock and progressive at times.
- Easy Living
- Angel Comes
- Until the End
- Within Yourself
- Three Generations
- Take Me In
- Forgive Me
- The Union