Somehow I was glad that nobody had written a review for this album so far, because this album from Danish ROYAL HUNT still doesn’t stop to fascinate me, even though many years have passed since I first heard them. But let’s see what these really able musicians had to offer on this, their fourth studio record.
The album begins with a short introduction by the name “The Awakening”, only with acoustic guitars and vocals and of course keyboard to round up the atmosphere. Then a bridge of tribal drums and typical native American chanting (it might well be one) brings us to the next song “River Of Pain”, a song that now brings all instruments to life and we have a taster what ROYAL HUNT really sound like. Folks who have not heard ROYAL HUNT until now and they don’t like what they hear, can just as well change the CD, because you already have here all the trademarks of this great band: the magnificent keyboard-play of Andre Andersen, which dominates the whole picture, which is actually no wonder if we are taking in consideration that he is the mastermind of this band. The bass of Steen Mogensen is loud and clearly audible and delivers a perfect duo with the drums of Kenneth Olsen and the guitars of Jacob Kjaer sound raw but very melodic indeed, they just speak for themselves I guess.
But now back to “River Of Pain”, a song carried by that bass-guitar, a slower song with beautiful choir parts, walls of keyboard and of course last, but not least the great vocals of DC Cooper. Well I have already praised his vocal performance on their previous record, so I will just take it lighter now….if I can. With the 3rd track “Tearing Down The World” things speed up a bit and now at the latest, the guys deliver all they got, this is one of those songs which you can give somebody to listen to, saying this is ROYAL HUNT, if you don’t like this, you don’t have to waste any time listening to more songs or albums, just let it be, it is not for you. And I think ROYAL HUNT fans will agree that this is really a brilliant song, everybody performing just remarkably good.
Well ok, but just for the sake of those unbelievers (or just playing hard to get!?) out there, we can give one more shot, with the next song: “Message To God”. The song is as melodic as it can get, very catchy and it is the song for which the first video from the album was made. This was the video that initiated me into the world of ROYAL HUNT almost a decade ago and still is one of my favorite songs from the band. What fascinated me that much? First of all it must have been the keyboard tunes, they are simply overwhelming and then I don’t know in which order: the catchy melody, the very good and bombastic sound, the vocals of DC, those great backing choirs, it was a package where everything fitted just fine.
The band convinces just the same with slower tracks as well, as in the following song “Long Way Home”, starting really slowly and getting faster and then just ending in a serene atmosphere. You will notice that the song picks up the melody of the first introductory track “The Awakening”, combining acoustic parts with really heavy and “electric” parts, with DC Cooper proving that he is just as comfortable within higher vocal spheres as he is in the lower ones. “Time Will Tell” is the longest track on the record with almost 10 minutes, but somehow you don’t get the feeling that it is a long track because in a way you just lose track of time with such a display of musical skills. Just listen to those remarkable backing choirs…amazing!!!
With “Silent Scream” (has nothing to do with the homonym track from SLAYER’s masterpiece “South Of Heaven”) things are not calming down, not even a bit and we have another great song to savor. Well, you might think you have heard everything, but the guys once again stun you here, with some Hard Rock influences (typical for their earlier days) but really well mixed in this melodic brew that slowly overcooks!! But before that happens, we (unfortunately) arrive at the end of the record, which is closed in the same way it amazed us all the way: majestically! “It’s Over” is not just a fitting title for a closing track, but musically fits just the same to be the crowning of such a remarkable performance. It is, just like with the first song, slower paced, with a rather sad mood. What vocals! What a closing! What a masterpiece!
You can stumble upon various editions of this record with various bonus tracks, mostly there are “Martial Arts”, an instrumental song known from their first album, “Restless” (sometimes as bonus track on “Moving Target”) or “The Final Lullaby”, typical ROYAL HUNT tracks, with the best the band has to offer, which diminish the value of this album not at all. Then you can often have the various radio versions of the different tracks of the album, the songs being just cut shorter (to fit the radio stations’ taste). You might even find a double CD edition, with the live version of the whole album, which was also released separately, but maybe more about that release in another review. But no matter which edition you will grab, I hope that you will cherish it as much as I do! Enjoy!
(Online December 5, 2006)