ROYAL HUNT - FEAR - RONDEL
Danish/ American pomp rock band Royal Hunt has been doing the rounds for a few years now, and have seen the backs of a few members who have been in and out of the combo for one reason or another. But, I have to admit, this is my first encounter with the band. Fresh perspective being everything (or so I tell myself in cases like this!?), the band with the obviously suitable moniker can certainly be better known than their current status. While their L.A. Guns-ish cover art and odd choice of album name might hint little at the band's direction, RH are simply a must for fans of the prog/pomp rock genres. Genres populated by Dream Theater, Saga and early Yngwie Malmsteen. With the entire unit exuding long virtuoso passages titillating between hard rocking blitzes (remember DT's Images And Words?) and keyboard-laden flashy symphonies, new-ish vocalist West knows how to pull off both arena-suited vox and arty musing. It's a definitive work from a solid line up and one which can only be essential for fans of the genre as described above. - Ali "The Metallian"
ROYAL HUNT - THE MISSION - MAJESTIC/CENTURY MEDIA
According to chapters.ca, Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles is only explicitly a book about mankind's travel to Mars. In essence the story deals with the country to the south - contemporary America. Denmark's Royal Hunt have written an album based on the work, and the end result is an incredibly successful opus with a mesmerizing science fiction cover. Royal Hunt has hit its stride with The Mission. There is barely any cause for criticism here. In The Mission, the hard rockers have brought together a series of elements that would normally render an album incohesive - not so here. The band's progressive hard rock is intact and passionately strong. But there is much more and much more that is done well. A strong production and sound only serves to amplify the strength of the vocals (powerful and soaring), guitars (both classic, exotic and hard rocking), rhythm section (tight and professional) and a plethora of influences (metal, hard rock, progressive and classical) in a manner that never puts an element out of place. There is a slew of talent on this album. In fact there is enough to put the competition to shame. Take a song like Surrender for example: it has it all. Listen to the scream on World Wide War! Bang your head to the album's opening riff; then crank up the assault on Total Recall. Fans of everything from the band's earlier work to Stratovarius and post-Dio Rainbow to early Yngwie Malmsteen will find in The Mission an album from a band enjoying renewed pickup and urgency. - Ali "The Metallian"
ROYAL HUNT - THE WATCHERS - MAJESTIC/CENTURY MEDIA
Progressive hard rockers Royal Hunt need little introduction. In today's tough climate they have gone from strength to strength and always manage to deliver improving and genuine art to their fans. The Watchers is not an exception. Designed as a stop-gap 70-minute album, The Watchers features different versions of Intervention from the last full length The Mission, brilliantly powerful live songs and several older studio songs now sung by singer John West. Ironically, The Watchers is best recommended to non-fans. It may serve as a fantastic introduction to this multitalented band with a knack for powerful art symphonies.