Reviewed: February, 2021
Released: 2020, Northpoint
I have to get this off my chest. This goes out to Royal Hunt and applies to any band. Please check on-line BEFORE you name your album, to see if any other band has the exact same album name.
Dystopia. Really? There are over two dozen Metal bands who already have an album called Dystopia. I’m not talking about obscure bands, I’m talking about big bands like Iced Earth and Megadeth! I get it. Dystopia is a great word to describe what some people think is the current state of the world these days but coming from a band who has interesting, unique album titles like A LIFE TO DIE FOR, SHOW ME HOW TO LIVE and CLOWN IN THE MIRROR, I expect more.
I might also complain a bit about the album cover, it is quite plain, however Royal Hunt gets a free pass because they have always had some sort of insigna, crest, logo or shield design on their albums, making them look classy, elegant and regal. As a side note: House Of Lords, Ten and Whitesnake do this as well.
DYSTOPIA is the bands 15th studio album and it continues in the bands fine tradition of album after album of world-class, progressive Power Metal. Metal-rules has supported Royal Hunt since we reviewed FEAR back in 1999 and I am pleased to continue this tradition.
Royal Hunt have had a stable line-up fro about a decade and nothing much has changed on this album, the band now going the independent route for the last couple of albums, after leaving Frontiers. DYSTOPIA shows the band on a creative roll coming less than two years since CAST IN STONE.
A dramatic flurry of orchestral sounds and sound-effects start the album with the track ‘Inception F451’ which leads into ripping opener ‘Burn’ which as you might guess, the pair combine to tell a story of book burning which is pretty topical considering so many large social media organizations are censoring and banning books these days. Dystopia indeed!
The album follows the classic Royal Hunt sound; heavy keyboard driven anthems courtesy of founder Andre Anderson. The band has had some great singers John West and Mark Boals but ever since D.C. Cooper rejoined the band ten years ago thinking seem just a little better. Cooper is on fire as high vocals soar on this record and the big backing vocals, a hallmark of Royal Hunt, are in place. The whole album is a vocalists dream. Singer Alexandra Andersen, presumably Andre Andersen’s wife, sings a gorgeous and lush, epic power ballad with former singer Mark Boals called, ‘I Used to Walk Alone’. The original singer Henrik makes an appearance singing lead on a couple of songs and then the tour-de-force everyone, (Cooper, and guests Mark Boals, Henrik Brockmann, Mats Leven and Kenny Lubcke) all contribute vocals to the last song on the album ‘Snake Eyes’. That is a hell of a lot of vocal firepower!
The ten-track, 55-minute album is divided by three instrumentals that break up the pace nicely. The pace surges along, quick to fast but never just an all out speed assault. DYSTOPIA is as good as any album they have ever done; melodic, intense and engaging. As I alluded to before there is a regality about Royal Hunt that few can match.
It’s a shame that this band doesn’t get more acknowledgement. I still to this day meet people who rave about Sonata Arctica and other keyboard driven Power Metal bands who have no idea who Royal Hunt are. This will please the faithful and helpfully bring even more people into the fold.
1. Inception F451
3. The Art of Dying
4. I Used to Walk Alone
5. The Eye of Oblivion
6. Hound of the Damned
7. The Missing Page (Intermission I)
8. Black Butterflies
9. Snake Eyes
10. Midway (Intermission II)