Royal Hunt - Paper blood 3.5/5

Reviewed: 7-22-05


1. Break your chains
2. Not my kind
3. Memory lane
4. Never give up
5. Seven days
6. SK983
7. Kiss of faith
8. Paper blood
9. Seasons change
10. Twice around the world

Classical based metal artists Royal Hunt are back with their 8th full-length CD. After several vocalist changes they seem to have finally settled on John West, as this is now his 4th CD with the band. Although West provides some consistency, there have still been changes with the longtime bass and lead guitar players both moving on before this CD. Keyboardist Andre Andersen is still running the show, however, and the personnel changes seem to have little effect as the band always has quality musicians and Andersen does virtually all of the songwriting. After playing around with a few different styles early on, Royal Hunt has settled into their style and are starting to settle into a bit of a rut, which can be good or bad depending on what you like from your music.

The main problem with this CD, and I do like the CD, is it all merges together into one glob that is difficult to differentiate from other parts of itself. After listening to the CD over and over, while I enjoy every track on the CD, I have trouble remembering very many of them. Not only are they similar to each other, but they are similar to the typical sound of the last few Royal Hunt CDs also. That is not to say that they are bad songs, not at all; they just don’t have the variety that made the ‘Eyewitness’ CD extra appealing. Andersen is a master songwriter and every track here has a high degree of style and melody to it. The best part of many of the tracks is the playing and the production. Around the vocal melodies you will often hear Andersen doing a cool swirly track on his keyboard or the guitar, which is nicely high in the mix, will play some thumping riffs. The 3 tracks that stick out are all near the end. “Kiss of faith” has a little country/rock feel to it that works very well; it is reminiscent, though not as effective, as “Legion of the damned” from the excellent ‘Clown in the mirror’ CD. The title track is the most memorable uptempo track and the ballad “Seasons change” shows off West’s voice brilliantly.

This is a very good CD. The tracks, however, meld together and give this CD more of a “samey” feeling than any Royal Hunt CD has to date. Another problem with the CD is that it ends with a 7 minute instrumental. This would be alright if it were a blistering Dream Theater type of instrumental, but this one is just decent and the CD finishes on somewhat of a boring note. While Andersen’s songwriting used to really stand out on Royal Hunt CDs, it does that only on a few tracks now, while the rest of the CD is very solidly written but missing the uniqueness of a songwriter with lots of new ideas.




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