Royal Hunt

X

Written by: PP on 09/08/2010 04:03:48

I can't for the love of God understand how bands like Royal Hunt keep popping up without me having heard as much as a name drop in any of the mags I've read during the past ten years or so. They are a Danish classic rock band, and have apparently shifted 1.5 million records since their debut album "Land Of Broken Hearts" back in 1992, most of them during the golden CD sales of the mid to late 90s period with (supposed) classics like "Clown In The Mirror" and "Moving Target". That number alone scores them a place alongside the most successful rock/metal acts of all time in Europe. Oh well, they've been hiding in the last couple of years, I guess. Except they've been keeping busy, releasing new albums every couple of years or so, and for their tenth album, the rather *cough* creatively titled "X", they've decided to go way back to their roots: the 70s.

"X" is a very 70s inspired album, which you can hear particularly in the guitar solos and keyboard sequences. The tones reach back to the early psychedelia of bands like Deep Purple, and reinterpret it in a convincing way even though four decades have passed since then. Genesis should pop into mind frequently as well. With previous Yngwie Malmsteen vocalist Mark Boals carrying the mic, the vocal department is guaranteed to be majestic, and there are moments where Royal Hunt touches upon sheer brilliance when he's at his best, "Army of Slaves" at the forefront.

One line in particular stood out from the marketing material of the record, which really sums up this record in a nutshell: "If you're into pre-MTV, pre-computer/digital but pure quality rock - this thing's been tailor made for you". It's a very good description of the kind of person who's gonna be headbanging to Royal Hunt with his lengthy hair-do flowing all over the place, not to forget the sweaty leather outfit. But it's also a description that I'm beginning to see all too often, always associated with people/labels/bands who are stuck in an era of music where the old titans from several decades ago are still touring and releasing great material frequently enough to stay relevant. Hence, bands like Royal Hunt, to the trained ear of all kinds of music and not just strictly heavy metal & classic rock, sound like derivatives of derivatives of derivatives in the genre, even when they are very clearly good musicians and composers.

Keeping that in mind, you can also deduce that "X" is an album for those who believe that time should stand still, that new (sub)genres are the cancer of the music industry, and if it doesn't sound like the 80s or preferably even earlier, it sucks balls. If you're one of those people, "X" is the perfect record for you, and will land safely in the highest ratings, simply because it's a very good record at what it does. Which happens to be reinterpreting 70s classic/progressive rock in a seemingly authentic and believable manner. I myself, on the other hand, belong to the opposite group of music critics who believe that music first really started flourishing and demonstrating its true evolutionary capability once it deviated from the straight-forward rock-metal-pop (rock-paper-scissors?) categorization. Alas, to me, "X" sounds no different than any other rehash of the 70s and 80s greats - except it isn't as infinitely boring as their German counterparts usually are. The record does a decent job at recreating the feeling of bands from that era, but what exactly does it bring on the table that should make people in 2010 listen to it instead of, say, a Deep Purple classic? I fail to see the answer.

Download: Army Of Slaves
For the fans of: Deep Purple, Genesis, Kansas, Boston
Listen: Myspace

Release date 07.06.2010
Scarlet Records

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