That André Andersen is one of the most recognized keyboardists of recent decades in the world of metal, it is well known. However none of his bands have become commercially successful, only with ROYAL HUNT has it come close to having during the 1990s a remarkable success with their album "Paradox".
The rest of the bands created by this Danish genius from Russian roots such as PRIME TIME, EVIL MASQUERADE, NARITA, CORNESTONE and some more project or his solo albums have been left in the background for sick consumers of this cool neoclassical musician.
"Dystopia" is the fifth attempt since the return to the band by brutal vocalist D.C. Cooper, who was already at ROYAL HUNT in the 1990s with his hit "Paradox", and the previous "Moving target". The departure of the American singer's band was perhaps one of the reasons why they were no more successful in their subsequent work despite having great singers such as John West (Artension, Badlands, Lynch Mob) or Mark Boals (Yngwie Malmsteen, Dokken). The only country that recognized the value of ROYAL HUNT as has happened with other formations has been Japan, a place that always seems to function as an independent scene from the rest of the world on a commercial level.
The curious thing is that they rejoin forces about 2010 after Cooper being with THE SILENT FORCE to celebrate the 15th anniversary tour of "Paradox", the feeling has re-emerged and as I said earlier now comes this fifth work of this union that spares no effort and quality. With arguably the most stable line-up ever composed by Andreas Passmark on bass, Andreas "Habo" Johansson on drums and Jonas Larsen on guitar, musicians who bring the level of quality needed to match the two monsters that lead the project.
This "Dystopia" is again a great attempt to reach the listener of the most neoclassical metal, a record that like almost all the previous ones plays between Heavy metal and melodic hard rock, with a concept based on Ray Bradbury's novel "Farenheit 451", and that André Andersen has tried musically to adapt it in the best possible way with the inclusion of several singers in order to give more reality to the story. In this way Mark Boals (Yngwie Malmsteen, Ring of fire), Mats Leven (Candlemass, Adagio, Therion...), Henry Brockmann (Evil masquerade), Kenny Lubcke, and Alexandra Andersen support DC Cooper with great vocal work on some of the songs of "Dystopia". Interestingly Boals, Brockmann and Lubcke have been part of both ROYAL HUNT and some other André Andersen project in all these years.
And what we are going to find from the initial intro "Inception F451" is a Heavy metal very on the AYREON wave or AVANTASIA last era, the hard rock era and less power, with great presence of keyboards that are constantly in the foreground, as is usual on the band's albums. Still great work on Larsen's guitar that accompanies and excels in much of the songs with those duels he has with André in plan YNGWIE MALSMTEEN or bands such as STARTOVARIUS and SYMPHONY X in for example "Burn", theme of the hardest on the album, or "The art of dying" more epic and melodic. Compared to previous works perhaps this album is richer in styles with a rather elegant and classic half-time with "I used to walk alone" or themes with a more modern base that is the case of "Hound of damned", but most of the album continues the dynamics of royal HUNT compositions as always, "The eye of Oblivion", "Black butterflies" or the two songs named at the beginning of the review are the example of this, compositions all of them of great quality, with a very good work of the rhythmic base, which despite being overshadowed by keyboards endows enough forcefully the entire album. Finally "Snake eyes" gives the finishing touch with an epic and quite bombastic half-time, not forgetting the three instrumentals strategically placed at the beginning as intro, in the middle and at the end like any great concept album.
A great job this "Dystopia" that maintains the level of the ROYAL HUNT that they have had during all these 30 years, that will please all their fans and that strange will be that it brings some other new follower closer. Let us not forget the plus of all the collaborations that this album has that demonstrate not only the quality of them but the stratospheric of the voice of DC Cooper demonstrating a number of nuances to adapt to every moment of spectacular "Dystopia", that is why he was one of the candidates to replace in JUDAS PRIEST the Metal God. As a very positive part we have an André Andersen who despite being his band is contained, and does not become a Yngwie Malmsteen of life, not having absolute prominence and giving his important part to each musician.
If you don't know them but AVANTASIA, AYREON or groups of this style between progressive and melodic hard rock from PRETTY MAIDS, HAREM SCAREM, BONFIRE or TEN you like, give them a chance, I think after all these years... they deserve it. 8.5/10 - Necromance Magazine
“ Dystopia ” released on December 16th via King Records (Japan/SE Asia) and on December 18th (UPD: physical format on the 15th of January 2021) via NorthPoint Productions (Europe / N / S America). A concept album offering a considerable expansion of the band´s trademark sound and featuring performances by guest vocalists: Mats Leven ( Candlemass, TSO, Skyblood ), Mark Boals ( Y.J. Malmsteen, Ring of Fire ), Henrik Brockmann ( Royal Hunt, Evil Masquerade, N´Tribe ), Kenny Lubcke ( Narita, Zoser Mez ) and Alexandra Andersen ( Royal Hunt, JSP ).
“Dystopia” is available on ALL digital platforms (as MP3, FLAC), and as a regular CD (jewel case), various deluxe editions / bundles and a double heavy vinyl LP at royalhunt.com
ROYAL HUNT - " The Art Of Dying " ft. Mats Leven (single version)
ROYAL HUNT keep intriguing fans with their adventurous endeavors and the band´s 15th studio album is no exception: a monumental concept opus featuring symphonic, progressive yet hard hitting compositions full of impeccable performances, wrapped tightly into immediately accessible format and a lush, contemporary production.
The addition of some extraordinary guest singers and their outstanding performances combined with vastly extended orchestrations creates a truly conceptual, cinematic feel throughout each and every track.
THE ART OF DYING
I USED TO WALK ALONE
THE EYE OF OBLIVION
HOUND OF THE DAMNED
THE MISSING PAGE (Intermission I)
MIDWAY (Intermission II)
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