Words: Craig Hartranft
There are few bands, with a better than 25 years career, that have been as consistent in their sound and output as Denmark's Royal Hunt. Sure, they've had their share of personnel changes, significantly in the vocalist position, yet they carry on with increasing success. Recently, some of that success comes from one simple yet significant change. They brought Pennsylvania native D.C. Cooper back on the microphone. For my money, he'll always be the voice of Royal. He remains so, and the band records their thirteen album with Cooper, XIII - Devil's Dozen, his fifth on vocals for Royal Hunt.
For those unfamiliar with Royal Hunt, which I doubt if you're reading this, the band performs melodic and symphonic heavy metal, with large emphasis on the first two descriptors. The symphonic element comes from founder and principal songwriter Andre Anderson's influence and keyboard presence. I'm presuming it's his synths that account for the large than life orchestration and not an actual orchestra. PR material was wanting on that information. Suffice to say, the symphonic layer provides two things. It provides a lush and lavish canvas and reinforces the melody of the arrangement, in every song. After this, Anderson offers keyboard solos throughout, sharing the limelight with the guitar leads. And those leads are as present and immense as everything else. Actually, I think the guitar presence is even larger on this album than most. Jonas Larsen is at the top of his game.
Following these things, Cooper is also in top form, with a strong vocal presence. His skill comes from his natural ability to follow the melody and harmony of an arrangement, and then stay in range. Then there's the character of the songs, which has been alluded to by speaking of the particular musical elements. What's notable in those song arrangements is the importance of harmony and melody, but also the basic rock groove. This is where, from the band's inception, classic melodic hard rock has been as much a pillar of the musical foundation as the symphonic element. When these things dovetail together as with So Right So Wrong, How Do You Know, Way Too Late, and the quite catchy Hear On A Platte, Royal Hunt is a formidable melodic metal powerhouse. And that was only to mention four songs. They're all outstanding, all terrific and no filler. Once more, with XIII - Devil's Dozen, Royal Hunt's melodic and symphonic heavy metal is consistent, creative, and entertaining. Sweet stuff and strongly recommended.
Once more, with XIII - Devil's Dozen, Royal Hunt's melodic and symphonic heavy metal is consistent, creative, and entertaining. Sweet stuff and strongly recommended.
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