Royal Hunt - Dystopia - Reviewed By Heavy Metal Heaven webzine ! Check it out here at this link: https://www.heavymetalheaven.it/2021/04/26/recensione-royal-hunt-dystopia/
If you know at least a little bit about the world of progressive metal, you will surely know who the Royal Hunt are. Among the second most important lines of the genre, they have been around even since 1989: since then they have pursued a long, very prolific career. Career in which they developed their very personal genre, which mixes a very melodic prog base with a power substrate. At first accompanied by a very classic heavy, over time the band pushed rather into symphonic territories. A component that also prevails in Dystopia.
Even the fifteenth full-length album in Royal Hunt's careeris an album that in some ways suffers from many years of activity. But luckily it doesn't do too much: on the one hand, in fact, the class of a veteran band like the Danes is audible. Between excellent melodies, very catchy, and several clichés reread however in a way that weighs very little, you feel that we are not in front of the latest arrivals.
On the other hand, unfortunately, Dystopia is not exempt from some problems. The most obvious is a certain prolixity on the part of the Royal Hunts: the structures they set go on too long, often with repetitions. In some tracks it makes sense, but I think cutting a few parts too much here and there was better.
This factor is at the origin of a fairly ondivaga lineup: also the fault of a certain discontinuity. If some songs are fully voted to power, others tend more progressive, and between these two souls there is sometimes a small cleavage. Although as a rule the symphonic element manages to keep them together.
In general, Dystopia largely manages to go beyond its flaws. It won't be perfect, least of all the best in Royal Hunt's career, but it still has something to say musically. Something worth listening to, even beyond the craft with which the group packaged it.
Inception F541 is the typical intro of this type of record: it begins with slight environmental effects, but after a short time the orchestrations come into play. The result is a small symphonic fresco, often enveloping, but which at times gives the idea of stretching the broth a little too much. It goes on for over two minutes, and already shows a tendency to exaggerate in the prolixity of the Royal Hunt in Dystopia. Although for now, it doesn't bother much: as an interlude for Burn it's not bad.
The latter emerges from another brief interlude of ambient sounds, but soon moves to something more powerful. At first expanded and prog, it soon takes a power road. It is a dualism that also recurs in the backbone of the song: the verses are more decomposed, although they are not too tortuous. Indeed, they are guided by the symphonic bursts of André Andersen's keyboards.
More bare bridges (with the exception of the final fitting, rich in orchestrations) then bring the music to the choruses. Direct, powerful, they are symphonic power metal textbook, with a melody that, however typical, affects very well and turns out to catchy the right. Classical is also the structure (with the exception of the long symphonic tail, even a little distressing in the finale), an alternation usually simple: only in the center do intricate and fast solos look beautiful, with just a splash of prog at times. They also enrich a great piece, simple but valid enough to be the absolute peak of the record!
At this point, with The Art of Dying Dystopia shows the calmer and more progressive side of Royal Hunt. A dark start, with plumbee orchestrations and arcane choirs, then the scene opens. We find ourselves in a very expanded piece: some sections are straight only from the rhythm section and slight orchestral sounds. Others are more metallic, but melody and calm also reign in this norm, making it almost undertrack.
However, there is also room for returns from the beginning: at times gloomy, thanks even to doom influences, elsewhere they are less oppressive. In these cases, they usually introduce more open, melancholy refrains, in which D.C. Cooper duets with choirs. And at times, as well as in the verses, with a famous guest like Mats Levén.
Aside from a twilight solo by Jonas Larsen in the middle, there's not much else in a song that after five minutes (and one last chorus a wire is too stretched) goes out and seems over. But then the music recovers, and strongly: at first there is only a sigh, but soon the orchestrations launch a remarkable escalation. A new dark first part soon leaves room for a still shady, but catchy power moment. He hammers for a short time, before concluding a song that, despite its defect, remains enjoyable and of a very good level.
Before dystopia's two ballads, I Used to Walk Alone begins with rainy sounds and a piano that anticipates the melody of the chorus. The densest moment of the piece, it also has metal elements, albeit slight: instead, the many intertwined voices and choirs dominate. At the origin of a light, serene aura: it envelops in a pleasant way even beyond a basic melody that has not succeeded, very banal.
In any case, verses are usually more rarefied, they often see only the piano or orchestrations under the duet between Alexandra Andersen and another level guest such as Mark Boals. Only at certain times are there also percussion and a higher density, without breaking the delicacy of the complex. Which, moreover, proceeds in a very linear way: apart from some guitar veins by Larsen and some small variations, there is not much to report. And the result is an episode that lets itself be listened to with pleasure, but on the whole it is only discreet.
At this point, the Danes raise their heads with The Eye of Oblivion: it starts from a choral intro but then ters back on power coordinates. It is a component present above all in refrains: they resume the start in an even more intense way, with an almost evocative, majestic, very valid touch. But the rest also has energy: the verses, however bare at times and with andreas passmark's bass in evidence, have a nice dynamism. Sometimes accompanied by outlets in which Larsen asserts himself, they flow well; however, the fractions in which the pace slows down are also excellent. They give a thoughtful touch to everything that cooperates well with the melancholy evoked by most solutions.
And so, it matters little if the central duel between the guitarist and Andersen, often neoclassical in tone, goes on for too long. How does it not bother if at times the structure tends to repeat itself: despite the defect, it results in a high-level piece, the best that Dystopia has to offer together with Burn. Sign that royal hunts make it better if they move on power beaches!
With Hounds of the Damned,the Danes are now back turning on their prog side. A short expanded intro, with almost industrial sound soon turns into a more orchestral landscape. From the strong theatrical nature, it develops to become an extroverted central part, of great impact.
It is the absolute best moment of a song that, however, even for the rest does not disfigure too much. Verses, for example, with vague returns of the basic pattern on a lighter, almost intimate approach, work well. And in their way the choruses do too: although their melody lacks a bit of charisma, in general they are pleasant. Especially thanks to their nostalgic calm, which has a good impact.
The usual valid solo on the one hand and a few too many repetitions of the refrain on the other do the rest. The complex turns out to be quite good, but leaves some regrets. If he had been up to his brightest cues, he could have been much better than that!
The Missing Page is nothing more than an entirely symphonic long interlude, which takes up the basic melodies of Burn and The Art of Dying. It turns out to be pleasant, but basically it doesn't help much, if not as an intro (still long and too extensive) for Black Butterflies,which then enters the scene expanded. But it's just the beginning: soon drummer Andreas "Habo" Johansson leads her to faster pace, while the Danish's power influence comes back out. The same base unfortunately holds refrain from the little biting: with a vocal melody from Cooper really stale, little explosive, they don't have much to give. A little better goes instead with the verses: intimate, light, with electronic influences, they are cute with their progressive piglio. But too little to lift the track altogether.
Moreover, this time, it does not help too long, on the contrary: with a structure without almost variations and always the same themes, it is an even stronger limit. The result is a song that fails to achieve even sufficiency. It also disappears on an album like this, of which it turns out to be the undoubted peak in negative.
Luckily, royal hunt retires to Dystopia in the finale thanks to Snake Eyes. A short intro of acoustic guitar, which preeps its themes, then comes to life the second ballad in the lineup. It can already be heard in the verses: on a calm, very intimate basis, various guests of the Danes alternate. Accompanied by refined influences, which bring back to the hard melodic and the AOR of the eighties, it is an excellent base, dreamy and valid. And it best introduces refrains.
Densest, they also remember the eighties a lot. But without knowing stale: the vocal melody is catchy, the wealth of orchestrations is remarkable, and the result wraps very well. The song's tendency to get a little more electric as time passes is also excellent. Enhance the piece without breaking its delicate and enveloping aura; the same can be said of the fact that this time the Danes are not exaggerating with prolixity. The structure is simple, apart from an expanded and more symphonic tail there is nothing else: good for a simple piece, in its six minutes, but excellent. So much so that you're just behind the best of the record!
The latter is practically over, but the actual closure is entrusted to Midway. A short outro divided between a Larsen arpeggio and Andersen's orchestrations,it has little meaning, with its minute and a half scarce. At least, however, he has a beautiful melancholy: this allows him not to disfigure in the queue. And to be, in fact, a good word of farewell for such an album.
As already mentioned in the introduction, beyond everything Dystopia still deserves a listening, especially from those who love certain sonorities. Of course, there remains a great regret within it: it was not for its faults and in particular for the prolixity of the Royal Hunts,it could have been excellent, or perhaps even more so. But after all, even so it is not a very serious problem: if you appreciate Danes, or if you love power, prog and symphonic you are still recommended. You will find yourself in front of a work that may not be exciting but very enjoyable, which will give you a few hours in good musical company! - 77/100 Heavy Metal Heaven webzine
ROYAL HUNT 's ANDRÉ ANDERSEN REACHES TOP 3 IN KEYBOARDS PLAYER CHARTS OF BURRN MAGAZINE
Message from the band: " André Andersen is always in a good company Congrats to all winners of the Keyboards player chart of Burrn! magazine in 2021! "
Check out the post on Facebook here at this link https://www.facebook.com/royalhunt/posts/285823182994934
Their recent album “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 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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