Released: 2012, Scarlet Records
Celebrating Royal Hunt’s 20th anniversary, Scarlet Records is issuing the first ever Best Of for the band in a limited digipack. IN THE HEART OF THE CITY brings together 10 tracks in chronological order from the band’s first 5 albums. As with most of these types of albums, it gives fans of the band a chance to quibble over the selection list and debate what should have been included. Scarlet Records has mostly chosen wisely, picking most of the fan favorites while providing an ideal place for people who have never heard the band to explore their sound.
“Running Wild” leads things off, the first track from the debut album LAND OF BROKEN HEARTS and an ideal starting point for discovering how difficult it is to categorize Royal Hunt’s sound. I have always considered them to be a hybrid combination of Pop, AOR and Power Metal, Royal Hunt composing in major keys with happy sounds and epic choruses. Keyboards are front and center, overindulged in many places, but a key component of the band’s sound. “Kingdom Dark” is the other song from the debut album, which should be noted, is out of print and hard to find, making these two tracks all the more valuable. “Clown in the Mirror” represents the second album and is one of the band’s many ballads. “Making A Mess” adds more heaviness and classic power metal riffing to the band’s sound, while retaining the happy melodies and epic choruses. For those that want to dig right into the band’s best regarded material, skip to tracks 5-8. All four of these tunes feature the definitive Royal Hunt singer D.C. Cooper, culled from what is generally considered the band’s two best albums: MOVING TARGET and PARADOX.
Essentially, there is not much more to say. I would argue that 10 tracks are not enough to capture all of the band’s fine moments. It seems like a fairly weak effort to honor a band that has been around for 20 years. Surely a more substantial product could have been created. On the other hand, Royal Hunt can, on certain days, quickly wear out their welcome so there are times when 10 tracks will be the perfect running time. Long time fans of the band I think can skip this; there is nothing new offered here that has not been previously released. For new fans this would be a great place to start, with the understanding that when I mentioned that hybrid of Pop, AOR, and Power Metal, I put Power Metal last for a reason. Just wanted you to know what you are getting into. I give the music a four, but the weakness of the package as a whole (no new, unreleased or bonus tracks) a three. Split the difference and call it a 3.5