Since releasing 2015’s fantastic DEVIL’S DOZEN record, progressive power metallers Royal Hunt have been hitting the tour trail hard, criss-crossing the world. On top of that, in celebration of their classic PARADOX album, the band released a double-live in 2016 titled CARGO, on which they played PARADOX in its entirety and included a whole second set of classics. Despite that, it’s band tradition to release a live album every decade on the “’6″; 1996, 2006, and now 2016.
Par for the course, 2016 is another 2-CD extravaganza that covers 14 songs culled from 8 of the band’s 13 albums. Unsurprisingly, the John West and Mark Boals era of the band is ignored (only 2 songs), while the pre-D.C. Cooper years actually sees 4 songs included. All in all, it’s a great cross-section of music.
For such an exacting, musically precise band, Royal Hunt are amazingly adept at transferring their pristine sound to the stage – all the songs sound fantastic and you can tell its an honest representation as you can even hear the occasional (VERY occasional) off note sung by Cooper. You have to give kudos to the band for their bravery and confidence. Certainly the Russian crowd attending the show do – they are raucous throughout, singing along and chanting; you can tell they enjoyed it.
Because the band covers 20+ years of music, it’s interesting to hear how fully formed the Royal Hunt sound was when the band started. A song from the debut such as “Stranded” sounds completely at home next to a recent cut like “A Life to Die For”.
The necessity of releasing live albums two years in a row is debatable, but you can’t argue the very high quality standards of the band. Fantastic through and through, 2016 is a must-have for Royal Hunt fans.
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