Royal Hunt - The mission 3.5/5

Reviewed: 8-19-05





Tracklist:

1. Take off
2. The mission
3. Exit gravity
4. Surrender
5. Clean sweep
6. Judegement day
7. Metamorphosis
8. World wide war
9. Dreamline
10. Out of reach
11. Fourth dimension
12. Days of no trust
13. Total recall


Royal Hunt returns to the style of ‘Paradox’ with another theme based CD. The band’s first CD with new singer John West felt rushed and, while very good, didn't have the majestic qualities of ‘Paradox’. 'The mission' does. This is a concept album based on Ray Bradbury's 'The martian chronicles'. Much like with ‘Paradox’, this is much more an album than a collection of individual songs. The first track, "Take off", is a short introduction after which the rest of the tracks alternate between being a 5 to 7 minute track with vocals or a 2 minute segue instrumental. The exception to this is the final 2 tracks, which are both full–length tracks.

Of course, the key to any Royal Hunt CD is keyboardist André Anderson's excellent songwriting. He combines excellent melodies and inspiring arrangements to create fantastic songs. Vocalist John West really comes alive on this CD. He was more than capable on ‘Fear’, but on this CD, he blasts the vocals in a powerful unrelenting style that is close to that of his brilliant predecessor, D.C. Cooper. West will never have the range, personality, or life to his voice that Cooper has, but he is still a powerful, vibrant singer. The rest of the band is excellent. The rhythm section is a little low in the mix, so Steen Morgensen's bass is not too noticeable, but guitarist Jacob Kiaer is the real star here. While Anderson plays lots of nice keyboard pieces, he backs of and lets Kiaer's powerful guitar take over. Kiaer alternates between melodic trade–offs with Anderson and full–bore, powerful riffs that will make any fan of metal happy. Unfortunately the production on this CD is not as good as it could have been, resulting in a very tinny sound, unlike the rich, thick sound found on 'Paradox'.

Of the segues, the 2 that stand out are the great piano piece "Metamorphosis" and "Fourth dimension", which features brilliant trade–offs between the keyboards and guitar. The full–length tracks are typically uptempo with classically influenced melodies, excellent guitar and keyboard solos, and very interesting compositions. There are a couple of slower tracks, with the excellent "Days of no trust" standing out. Although there is no segue between the last 2 tracks, they run into each other perfectly, with Kiaer's powerful guitar interrupting West's last note on "Days of no trust". The best track on the CD is "Judgement day", which is an uptempo track, the equal of anything Royal Hunt has done in the past. ‘The mission’ is a nice return to the glories of 'Paradox' for Royal Hunt. ‘Paradox’ is still the better CD with better overall songwriting and far better production, but ‘The mission’ is reasonably close and at least has more of the style that fans loved so much about ‘Paradox’. So while ‘The mission’ isn’t a complete return to form, it does show Royal Hunt moving back in the right direction.



DAVID




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