Royal Hunt

Picture of Royal Hunt

Clown In The Mirror

Royal Hunt - Clown In The Mirror ©1993 Royal Hunt Records
1. Intro
2. Wasted Time
3. Ten To Life
4. On The Run
5. Clown In The Mirror
6. Third Stage
7. Bodyguard
8. Legion Of The Damned
9. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
10. Bad Blood
11. Epilogue

The second disc from Royal Hunt is probably only going to be of interest to staunch followers of the band. It is not their best effort on any level. It certainly hints at some of the wonderful work that will come from the band in what was still the future. The compositional skills are evident, even if not as aggressively pursued as they will be on future releases. Clown In The Mirror is also a pre D. C. Cooper disc. The vocalist on this outing is Henrik Brockmann who has an easy listening voice, but he is not the same caliber singer as Cooper.

The play is light and airy with some very tight passages. The commercial sound that has been the source of no small amount of criticism for the band is not as evident here as on Moving Target. The main drawback to this disc is the schlock content of the lyrics. The lyrics are shoddy. There is no getting around it. Andre Anderson shines on the keys, making it sound like Royal Hunt are backed by a full orchestra. His play and impact on the band's sound continues to grow through subsequent releases. Here is where he really began to be the anchor for this group of progressive metal artists.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 01/2001

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Moving Target

Royal Hunt - Moving Target ©1995 Magna Carta
1. Last Goodbye
2. 1348
3. Makin' A Mess
4. Far Away
5. Step By Step
6. Autograph (instrumental)
7. Stay Down
8. Give It Up
9. Time
10. Far Away (Acoustic)

With this disc and the arrival of singer D. C. Cooper, Royal Hunt become quite worthy of notice for the fan of progressive metal. Their sound finds its own little niche somewhere between Dream Theater, Queensryche and Shadow Gallery.

The production is top notch allowing you to hear how tightly the musicians play together. This disc is a vast improvement over Clown In The Mirror. The variety of sound in the songs is a bit broader, but many have criticized it as being too commercial. I find it to work very well as each track stands solidly on its own. The sound is heavier than Clown In The Mirror and flows very well from change to change. The vocal harmonies are huge and well done. Cooper's singing is not as stunning as on Paradox, but it is still something to make you sit up and take notice.

This is a solid progressive metal effort. The changes, though a bit predictable, work well in the sound, and the keys and guitar tie nicely together, each balancing the other as they trade places in the spotlight. Fans of Dream Theater, Shadow Gallery and Enchant will enjoy this disc.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 01/2001

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Paradox

Royal Hunt - Paradox ©1997 Magna Carta
1. The Awakening
2. River Of Pain
3. Tearing Down The World
4. Message To God
5. Long Way Home
6. Time Will Tell
7. Silent Scream
8. It's Over

This was the best progressive metal disc released in 1997. I think this is the best disc Royal Hunt has released to date. It is absolutely stunning. What Images and Words was to Dream Theater, Paradox is to Royal Hunt.

The vocal melodies and harmonies are wonderful. D. C. Cooper sounds tremendous, especially so when his voice is overdubbed a bunch of times in harmony. The keys give a stellar performance creating walls of sound and picturesque soundscapes for the guitar and rhythm. The sound cascades and rebounds all around you with the big, and I mean BIG, choruses singing with vigor. The keyboard passages are absolutely beautiful. The composition is flawless and the execution exemplary. Go buy the disc, I'm running out of superlatives.

Keyboardist Andre Anderson explains that this disc is a concept album. It attempts to "follow a man's acknowledgment of God on a journey through time on our world which we have been building since creation." He explains that "throughout history man has both blamed God and credited God for things that are negative and destructive, which doesn't make sense. God does not create inquisitions, or start wars. God does not create evil, only man does." I know many folks will take issue with that statement, but Anderson tries to work through the wrestling process of moving from the convenient blame placed on God's shoulders, to accepting responsibility and acknowledging the blame. Such a moral crisis elicits strong emotions and these conveyed very well on the disc.

This disc becomes the yardstick against which all releases, both previous and future, are measured. This disc is one of the definitive works of progressive metal.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 01/2001

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Fear

Royal Hunt - Fear ©1999 Rondel Records
1. Fear
2. Faces Of War
3. Cold City Lights
4. Lies
5. Follow Me
6. Voices
7. Sea Of Time

When D. C. Cooper decided to go solo, he left some very big shoes to fill for Royal Hunt. In one issue of Sea Of Tranquility magazine, the story of how singer John West came to fill those shoes unfolds. There are not many singers who could come in and do justice to the job in the eyes of the fans. John West, formerly of Artension, faced a very daunting task. The good news is that he was up to the task. The bad news is that the band was not up to him being up to the task.

What I mean by that is that there is virtually no way to notice that D. C. Cooper is gone short of reading the liner notes. John West's singing style with Artension and that on Fear are not the same. His confident aggression is missing. Because of this, the band makes no real strides forward in their sound. Because of that, I put it a notch or two below Paradox in ranking the quality of their releases.

The album rocks, solidly, and is sure to please progressive metal fans and melodic power metal fans alike. The play and composition are as tight as the previous discs. I think Royal Hunt should have delayed the release of the disc until they had acclimatize to John West more. I don't think they were comfortable enough together to really push the envelope like they could have done. To my mind, the hurried replacement of D. C. Cooper did not let this album fly as high as Royal Hunt hoped. However, I look forward to the next release where the band will have been working together, new vocalist and all, for long enough to redirect their sound and make it unique again.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 01/2001

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The Mission

Royal Hunt - The Mission ©2001 Century Media
1. Take Off
2. The Mission
3. Exit Gravity
4. Surrender
5. Clean Sweep
6. Judgement Day
7. Metamorphosis
8. World Wide War
9. Dreamline
10. Out Of Reach
11. Fourth Dimension
12. Days Of No Trust
13. Total Recall

The Mission is an ambitious piece of work from Royal Hunt. The disc is a concept album based on The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. Andre Andersen explained in a recent interview: "Basically we wrote songs going from chapter to chapter in the book, The Martian Chronicles. Every song is based on a particular chapter. The start of it is "The Mission", when the newcomers are coming to Mars. The whole book, in that sense, is about what people can bring to a different culture. It's not so much a science fiction than a conventional novel. You have a starting point where people are invading Mars, but it basically isn't that much about aliens and star ships. It's more about the values that we bring into a new territory. It's actually very ugly."

The disc is essentially one long track broken into several segments. The odd numbered tracks 1,3,5,7,9 and 11 are all very short interludes that take the concept from one chapter to the next while at the same time, they are interpretations of different chapters themselves. The remaining tracks are the meat of the disc, but they would not flow as seamlessly without the vehicle of the shorter instrumental pieces. A great deal of attention has been paid to the arrangement of the disc and the result is a piece of music that flows with grace from beginning to end.

The overall sound is melodic and majestic as fans of Royal Hunt have come to expect, but it is also very obviously going in a new direction for them. This is a much heavier, more guitar driven version of Royal Hunt. These songs are full of aggressive chops and inventive percussion. I think this is probably due in part to the theme of the album. If the members of Royal Hunt were trying to create an alienesque sound scape, they have succeeded in my opinion. The atmosphere and grace of the keys are still very much there, but the pace has been picked up and this music has some real teeth. In this album Royal Hunt have finally superceded the magnificence of Paradox. This heavier, more aggressive sound works well for them and really adds to the concept of the album.

The vocal melodies are still top-notch. John West has proven to be a very good fit for Royal Hunt, and his singing on this disc is far more in sync with the music than it was on Fear. With a new singer and a new sound, I think Royal Hunt has once more redefined who they are, proving that they are still a viable progressive metal band. It is great to hear the metal being pushed ahead of the progressive in this disc. This is the best thing to have come from Royal Hunt. Let's hope they continue to tackle concepts with depth and put out more music like this. If you are looking for a real contender for the "best progressive metal disc of 2001", you don't need to look any further. This disc is going to appear on several lists.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 08/2001

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The Watchers

Royal Hunt - The Watchers ©2002 Century Media
1. Intervention (full Version)
2. Lies (live)
3. Flight (live)
4. Message To God (live)
5. Epilogue (live)
6. One By One (New Version)
7. Clown In The Mirror (New Version)
8. Day In Day Out (New Version)
9. Legion Of The Damned (new Version)
10. Intervention (Radio Edit)

The Watchers is a collection of live tracks and revamped versions of older songs, presumably to show off the 2002 lineup of Royal Hunt. To me it's just a ten song reason to avoid bands like this as much as possible.

Royal Hunt, of course, is one of the many bands that is utterly oozing with talent and ability, but completely betray their skills by playing some of the most deviously bland music imaginable. For a band that supposedly plays within the "progressive" realm of heavy metal, they sure do stick to the rules and formulas. One would think a progressive band would be more interested in challenging their listeners and themselves with something that is a bit more than dressed up radio rock. To my ears, Royal Hunt has more in common with Journey than truly challenging metal. I can picture the members of Royal Hunt sitting in a lab, carefully weighing their different music elements to make sure the guitar solo is carefully grafted in just the precise spot. The scientists of Royal Hunt are also making sure their music stays carefully within predetermined, confining songwriting standards. Despite the polished, professionalism and careful crafting of their tunes, I can't picture listening to this and actually having a good time.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2003

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