Royal Hunt – Dystopia

Royal Hunt – Dystopia
NorthPoint Productions
Release Date:18/12/2020
Running Time: 55:49
Review by Chris Galea

“Dystopia” is inspired by Ray Bradbury’s classic novel “Fahrenheit 451”, a story about a dystopian world where books are illegal and censorship has society in a tight grip. Intellectual enlightenment is a struggle that is still relevant today. This is not the first time that Royal Hunt has put the author’s novel into music – in 2001 the band recorded a concept based on Bradbury’s epic “Martian Chronicles”. The “Fahrenheit 451” concept in part accounts for a multi-textured album, with moods ranging from the melancholic (such as ‘Snake Eyes’) to the cathartic (as is ‘Burn’).

Musically “Dystopia” encapsulates all that I love about this band with majestic riffs, ubiquitous choir vocals, great lead vocals (more about that in a moment), staccato keyboard tunes and a neo-classical slant infused with Prog songwriting. As is typical with this band, “Dystopia” contains several instrumental passages, all of which give the music opportunities to breathe.

In every one of the 15 albums to its name this band has been blessed with first-rate singers, but I have always regarded DC Cooper as the ideal fit for Royal Hunt’s music. And his distinct voice is in good shape in “Dystopia”…as manifested, for example, in ‘The Eye of Oblivion’. One of the album’s attractions, however, is the participation of some ex-vocalists of Royal Hunt, including Henrik Brockmann who sang lead vocals on Royal Hunt’s first two albums. Also providing lead vocals in a couple of songs are Mats Levén, (Krux, Abstrakt Algebra, Yngwie Malmsteen) and Marc Boals (ex-Royal Hunt, Yngwie Malmsteen, Ring Of Fire). It seems to be common practice for Royal Hunt to recruit band members with Epic Doom or Neo-Classical curricula.

Of course, the sound of Royal Hunt places significant emphasis on the keyboards of founding member André Andersen. Despite the band members’ individual skills, the music’s compositional qualities never get neglected. In particular I loved how the guitars and keyboards merge in and out of each other in ‘Burn’.

Speaking of guitars, Jonas Larsen displays several moments of brilliance throughout the album. In fact, in future, I’d love to hear more of the stuff he comes up with in ‘Snake Eyes’.

All in all, “Dystopia” is a solid album that never falters. One of the best albums I’ve heard in 2020.

‘The Art Of Dying’ (Lyric Video)

01. Inception F451 (Intro)
02. Burn
03. The Art Of Dying
04. I Used To Walk Alone
05. The Eye Of Oblivion
06. Hound Of The Damned
07. The Missing Page (Intermission I)
08. Black Butterflies
09. Snake Eyes
10. Midway (Intermission II)

DC Cooper – Vocals
Jonas Larsen – Guitars
André Andersen – Keyboards
Andreas Passmark – Bass
Andreas Johansson – Drums

Mats Leven – Vocals on ‘The Art Of Dying’ and ‘Snake Eyes’
Mark Boals – Vocals on ‘I Used To Walk Alone’ and ‘Snake Eyes’
Henrik Brockman – Vocals on ‘Hound Of The Damned’ and ‘Snake Eyes’
Kenny Lübcke – Vocals on ‘Hound Of The Damned’ and ‘Snake Eyes’
Alexandra Andersen – Vocals on ‘I Used To Walk Alone’


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