Album Reviews

Royal Hunt – X

Released by Avalon/Marquee Records – 2010

Review Added February 05, 2010

Released: January 20th, 2010 Japan
Running Time: 49:35
Musical Style: Melodic/Progressive Metal
Links: http://www.royalhunt.com/
Links: http://www.myspace.com/royalhuntmusic

Tracklist
1. Episode X (Arrival)
2. End Of The Line**
3. King For A Day**
4. The Well
5. Army Of Slaves**
6. ShadowMan**
7. Back To Square One**
8. Blood Red Stars
9. The Last Leaf**
10. Falling Down
11. Episode X (Departure)
Hot Tracks**

Mark Boals – Vocals
André Andersen – Keyboards
Marcus Jidell – Guitars
Andreas Passmark – Bass
Allan Sorensen – Drums

The term “going strong” is usually deemed for bands that are alive and kicking and keep producing material long after the peek of their careers. In this case we are talking about Royal Hunt, who is in a unique position that many bands finds themselves into, trying to use pieces of the old formula to fit the new influences to make something creatively successful. Let me start off by admittedly saying that one of my favorite and most influential albums of all time for me was Royal Hunt’s – Paradox album, not only is it a classical masterpiece of phenomenal musicianship, but it gave us a sound very unique, symphonic and powerful dealt with some tough and controversial issues, all the while being lifted into godly territory with the amazing vocals of D.C Cooper, one of my favorite singers of all time. There will probably never reach that potential again, but who’s to say they want to, they have progressed but still managed to used the Royal Hunt staple touch that they are so commonly known for.

Now they return to the fold with their 10th studio album with vocalist Mark Boals (Yngwie Malmsteen, Ring of Fire, etc), to reference what I mentioned ripping what you sew sort of speak, Boals was brought on for the release of “Collision Course – Paradox II“, which is fine, Mark’s vocals are excellent, but they didn’t quite fit the fold of the concept they we’re going for. Even though it was stated that this was a conceptual follow up to Paradox, the reality my friends is that nothing will and ever come close to that wonderful piece of enlightenment music they made. But I still give André Andersen (keyboards, guitars and founder) a ton of credit by not alienating the fans and deciding to quit the style, he’s a terrific keyboard player and songwriter and we hope they have found a niche this time around with Mark Boals, hence we present “X”.

The song “End of the Line”, starts the epic subtle explosion of keys and power with a wonderful chorus and is distinctly identifiable that Boals vocals here fit this track perfect, fast high paced and melodic. Some similarities can be linked to some of the material by Cornerstone, very good track and the album is off to a flying start. Dio-esque vocal lines open up the track “King for a Day” and I’m really digging the mellow mood that it sets with the touch of flashy with the tight solos from the rhythm to the bass line, it works very well. The sound chaser “The Well” depicts and displays Hun’t trademark keyboard and frenetic pace and style perfectly here, as the keyboards battles back and forth with the base rhythm to help boost the song and Boals once again does a fine job here handling the material. The classic rock undertones shine bright here on track “Army of Slave” is weird to listen to Royal Hunt with this new touch, but I can honestly say it gives the track a sense of flare, and it is molded more to blend in with Mark’s vocals, which is a good thing. The songwriting on “Back to Square One” features classic 70’s hard rock staples, along with the classic rock fusion into the progressive metal style, surprisingly works pretty efficient, is crazy what good music and different styles can mend those ingredients into one big rocking dose of music. I loved the soft touch piano introduction to “The Last Deaf” pays homage to a perfect balance of progressive metal and rock elements that not only stamps this amazing release towards awesome status, but finally reaches Royal Hunt’s potential with Boals on vocals.

I was left very satisfied with the music here on X, I think the material this time reaches full potential, I was left impressed with the vocals of Mark Boals, he does a bang up job here. The songwriting here is solid as well, but what most impressed me was the formula finally worked here, the progressive rock and classic rock experiment mixing Hunt’s trademark end up making the record a very good listen in it’s entirety. If you expect material from “The Mission” or “Paper Blood” days you might not like it, but this is them now and I the musicianship is tremendous and finally an album solid from top to bottom, no it won’t ever reach Paradox iconic status, but very few will ever, the point here is not to compare, merely to point out the fact that for a band to try to recapture the magic formula can be an intrinsic journey, but on “X”, Royal Hunt says to the world, “this is us, this is now”. Go pick it up and support the band!!!.

Written by Denys

Ratings Denys  8/10



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