Royal Hunt 2015 “Devil’s Dozen” CD – Album Review

Those who follow my blog more or less regularly, will know: Royal Hunt, this ultimate love of mine, the reason why I started my site, were about to release a new CD in August.

The wait is over, the album is out:

And, crikey, are they back! Back with revenge! Royal Hunt at their best: with their profound amalgamation of hard/progressive rock, classical orchestrations, amazing guitar riffs and keyboard solos, perfect compositions, rich background vocals… and just being themselves. This CD carries Royal Hunt’s official stamp all over it (and not just literally).

20150826_194955-1

For those who have never listened to Royal Hunt, “Devil’s Dozen” could be the perfect introduction to this ever so interesting band, as it pulls together all their truly unique features. And, as much as I am committed to looking into the future, I just cannot help but refer back to their best times, the “Paradox” era. Sorry, guys, but this is what “Devil’s Dozen” heavily reminds me of! And hits a nerve for me, because that’s what I always loved best about Royal Hunt. “Paradox”, an unbelievably melodic, deep, meaningful conceptual album set their own trends twenty odd years ago, and still has a great impact on the band’s work – this time taken up a notch to a yet new level.

Which doesn’t come to show that Andre Andersen (read my interview with him here) has exhausted his songwriting talent. By no means, no! He simply seems to have mastered it even more – how is this even possible??

With “Devil’s Dozen”, Royal Hunt go all the way back to their roots. Which I totally and utterly adore. Whether the band’s management will agree with me or not, this CD seems so deeply musically (though not conceptually) influenced by “Paradox” that I can see/hear its ghost everywhere.

After a (totally unexpected for me) modern electronic intro, the opening track transforms into those harmonies we love about the band. Powerful female background vocals (what makes the band instantly recognisable), Jonas Larsen’s guitar riffs (can’t help but imagine this handsome hunk showing off on stage!), change of pace, unexpected pauses building up to change of rhythm and melody… This is what Royal Hunt is about!

Altogether, the album does not really seem particularly original (if at all). As a blogger/reviewer, I would probably have to say this is my only criticism. As a die hard fan, though, I haven’t got the heart to. I like the well known classical dimensions of Royal Hunt and would never find them boring or repetitive.

Having said that, I must say that there is something new in this thirteenth CD that sounds rather intriguing: “Riches To Rags” (track No 6), where the band employs flutes and medieval motifs. It also gives DC the opportunity to let his voice go and demonstrate that he is still one of the greatest vocalists on the rock/metal/progressive stage at present.

The second track starts off with some (again unexpected) reminiscences of Silent Force (one of vocalist DC Cooper‘s previous projects). It turns out to be another typical composition for Royal Hunt. Structure of the song, as well as those breathtaking harmonies, are in the traditions of “Paradox” – again. Andre’s virtuoso solo, as well as Jonas’ guitar work, brought together with DC’s voice fantastically soaring into what seems humanly impossible, show us what the band are capable of.

The rest of the album is a continuation of this line of work… traditionally “Royal Hunty”. Third track starts with a typical intro with deep sound and a solid drum section – performed by Andreas “Habo” Johansson. Classical motifs, as well as the strong union of guitars and keyboards, are the band’s signature and what they are really made of. Which is the case with the forth track, too: RH’s stamp is all over it. Its pace gives you the impression it has been performed and sang within one breath, and gives you no break from the passionate emotions exploding from it.

As usual, there’s got to be a breathtaking ballad, too: “Until The Day” (track No 5) – perfect, lyrical and deep.

Overall, I would say that this is a damn good CD. Yes, not original, but still perfect. Rating as a reviewer: 4/5. Rating as a fan: 5/5.

20150826_195033-1

 

 

Track Listing:
  1. 1. So Right So Wrong
  2. May You Never Walk (Walk Alone)
  3. Heart On a Platter
  4. A Tear In the Rain
  5. Until the Day
  6. Riches to Rags
  7. Way Too Late
  8. How Do You Know

I would love to hear from you, so go on, let me know what you think!