Royal Hunt - Dystopia
NorthPoint Productions
Bombastic Melodic Metal
10 songs (55'46")
Release year: 2020
Royal Hunt website
Reviewed by Alex

My cleanup of 2020 reviews continues and today we have Danish Royal Hunt with Dystopia. In my opinion this long running melodic metal/rock act is seriously underrated. Even though I myself missed the last pair of albums, I did my fair share of Royal Hunt reviews for this site. The reason for my above “underrated” assertion is because rarely have I seen another review salivating over Royal Hunt. Maximum, writers normally point out to the steadiness and professionalism of the band. I think doing exactly that, consistently and at a very high level is why Royal Hunt has to be positively recognized. Dystopia, their latest, delivers in exactly expected vein, focuses on some sort of concept I can loosely feel from the album’s flow, and at times does come to touch Paradox, the highest point in Royal Hunt's almost 30 years career. Dystopia was released on NorthPoint Productions, which, from my best understanding, is the label Royal Hunt themselves put together. Not sure if this move will lead to more publicity and easier recognition, but it can certainly allow Andre Andersen & Co have fun and enjoy their art to the fullest.

After a movie score-like intro Inception F451, where the sense of life interruption is imminent, Royal Hunt launch into intrepid symphonics with Burn, with the typical sound you have come to expect from the Danes. Melodic to the fullest, with riffy verse, double bassed chorus and indulgent soloing on both guitars and keyboards Royal Hunt again breathes professionalism and announces that they won’t back down from the familiar template that brought them the recognition. Burn, a hit in its own right, flatlines into another single, The Art of Dying, the song actually released as one earlier in 2020. Narrative vocals by DC Cooper who is back again, and who has surprisingly regained his form, anthemic chorus with a hint of darkness and guitar pirouettes projecting a ping of regret, Burn and THe Art of Dying start Dystopia with a bang. From my limited understanding Royal Hunt uses a number of their previous vocalists on the album with Mark Boals, Mats Leven and Henrik Brockmann making an appearance.

Throughout the album Royal Hunt make sure they diversify enough, yet stay within their comfort zone and at the same time indulge themselves in the sidesteps they would enjoy. The Eye of Oblivion speeds along and does sound a little like Burn, but you almost never get tired of this style if you are afan of fast melodic burners. Hound of the Damned is that slanted, darker, a little too electronic song which makes sense as a mid-tempo pace breaker midway through the album, while balladic I Used to Walk Alone is a somewhat pompous and over the top, so perfectly proper for Royal Hunt. Took me a little effort to research for who the female vocalist is who is dueting and serenading with Mark Boals who appears to be the lead on I Used to Walk Alone. The name listed in the credits is Alexandra Andersen, and that makes me wonder if she is Andre’s daughter thus turning Royal Hunt into a somewhat of a family affair. Snake Eyes may be a little softer than the rest of Dystopia which never becomes way too sugary or sappy, but its harmonies are impeccable. It wouldn’t be a Royal Hunt without instrumental interludes, which help the album’s flow with the police radio chatter, and a hint of tragedy (The Missing Page), and it surely helps that The Missing Page leads into a composition Black Butterflies which for me almost touched those hard to attain Paradox standards.

Dystopia is over 55 minutes long, with some rather lengthy songs, but it doesn’t stagnate or seem that way. It flows by seamlessly and with a singular purpose keeping you engaged throughout. Since Royal Hunt and Andre Andersen himself would probably enjoy a classical music comparison, the band is not quite a Mozart or Beethoven of melodic progressive metal. Instead they are a Handel or Haydn, prolific, quality composers, who were less flashy and therefore less known. Dystopia does nothing to dissuade the notion and gets high marks.

Killing Songs :
Burn, The Art of Dying, Black Butterflies
Alex quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by Royal Hunt that we have reviewed:
Royal Hunt - Devils Dozen reviewed by Alex and quoted 84 / 100
Royal Hunt - A Life to Die For reviewed by Alex and quoted 90 / 100
Royal Hunt - Show Me How to Live reviewed by Alex and quoted 84 / 100
Royal Hunt - X reviewed by Erik and quoted 79 / 100
Royal Hunt - Paradox II - Collision Course reviewed by Chris and quoted 90 / 100
To see all 10 reviews click here
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