Royal Hunt - Dystopia

REVIEWS

12/1/20213 min read

Band: Royal Hunt
Title: Dystopia
Genre: Prog/Symphonic Metal
Label: NorthPoint Productions
Release Date: January 15th 2021

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Tracklist:
Inception F451
Burn
The Art Of Dying
I Used To Walk Alone
The Eye Of Oblivion
Hound Of The Damned
The Missing Page (Intermission I)
Black Butterflies
Snake Eyes
Midway (Intermission II)

Lineup:
André Andersen – Keyboards
DC Cooper – voice
Andreas Passmark – Bass
Jonas Larsen – Guitars
Andreas HABO Johansson – Drums


With "Dystopia", the stainless Royal Hunt reach the milestone of their fifteenth album, a concept, or perhaps it would be better to call it a metal-opera. Although I am not a fan of prog, I love this band that always manages to be a tone above the others, managing to intrigue and fascinate me every time. "Dystopia" refers to a literary dystopia, that of Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451", with Mats Leven (Candlemass, TSO, Skyblood), Mark Boals (Y.J. Malmsteen, Ring of Fire), Henrik Brockmann (Royal Hunt, Evil Masquerade, N´Tribe), Kenny Lubcke (Narita, Zoser Mez) and Alexandra Andersen (Royal Hunt, JSP) as guest vocalists. In this work Royal Hunt managed to create a theatrical, or cinematic if you prefer, atmosphere in which the impressive orchestral parts play an incisive role.
It is precisely the conceptuality of the album that blends with the slenderness of the listening experience that the band led by André Andersen has chosen an immediate approach of seven tracks with three instrumental interludes in which the band members once again show technical preparation and different nuances from its classic canon; no longer just the typical Royal Hunt sound that we know, but also some new lines such as the funky electronic inserts of "The Eye Of Oblivion" and "Hound Of The Damned".
The album atmosphere is enhanced by the intro "Inception F451", a short piece with the classic Royal Hunt sound as well as with urban and dark hints, a prelude to the blazing track "Burn", an intense piece in the classic style of the band, between hard rock guitars, significant keyboard and orchestrations, drags the listener on the wave of an up-tempo with Andreas Passmark's bass line and extremely masterfully sung by a D. C. Cooper.
We move on to the speedy 'Burn' enriched by the heavy riffs and driving rhythm thanks to Andreas HABO Johansson's drums along with the bass and D.C. Cooper with such a vocal imprint that he manages to emphasise the track along with certainly the backing vocals. The second track "The Art Of Dying". with Mats Leven on vocals, is more heavy, almost doom but at the same time lightened by neoclassical elements that make it epic; the alternation of guitar solos and keyboards enrich the context. In "I Used To Walk Alone", the tempo is slower but the symphony and symphonic harmony remains unchanged, the voice is by Alexandra Andersens who manages to interpret the emotionality of the piece. In "The Eye Of Oblivion" and "Hound Of The Damned", as already mentioned, Royal Hunt added electronic samples, making them exceptional complementing the symphony of the whole work; if "The Eye Of Oblivion" contains neoclassical elements, "Hound Of The Damned" is more prog-oriented. The enveloping orchestrations of "The Missing Page (Intermission I)" accompany us to the much more dramatic "Black Butterflies" whose depth is exceptional as well as the theatricality itself between metal notes, keyboards and imposing bass. The hard rock ballad "Snake Eyes", with electronic inserts between acoustic guitar arpeggios and orchestrations, encompasses all the guest singers, an emotional piece of great impact. With the short instrumental "Midway" the album ends in a tragic way, showing the unhappy side of this story. All the tracks of "Dystopia" are intertwined, they flow fluidly in a single dystopian and fascinating logical thread making the album another excellence composed by Royal Hunt. In short, another masterful album with which to honour the band's long musical activity.

Valeria Campagnale

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