|Royal Hunt Paradox II - Collision Course||Frontiers Records|
Royal Hunt return with another change of frontman – out goes John West and in comes (surprisingly) Mark Boals. Boals has until recently been MIA and has returned with a vengeance – but has saved his best for now.|
The last few Hunt albums have been very consistent, but I questioned why include instrumentals on the last album when you had such a talented singer in West on hand. Something didn't seem right about that and to prove the point, West soon departed.
The band, led by keyboard maestro and song mastermind Andre Andersen began work on a new record without a vocalist in place.
Collision Course is the result. Not for the faint hearted, this conceptual release is a sequel to the band's acclaimed Paradox release.
On board is new singer Boals – best known for his work with Yngwie Malmsteen. A great singer and not my immediate pick for Royal Hunt, but upon reflection – perfectly suited.
And he proves this with an astounding vocal performance that I rate as one of his best. I'm sure he has had more melodic songs to sing in the past – the tracks of Collision Course aren't commercial in nature, but Boals adds extra melody with his delivery.
Lyrically this album is a real handful – describing "a 'collision course' of a modern Western world and a new breed, grown on Eastern religious movements." Sure – why not?!
Musically it must be a challenge to create some catchy choruses around such a premise and that is the one area which this album doesn't quite hit the mark with.
The record from start to finish is quite a wild ride of swirling keyboards, big guitar riffs and ear shattering double kick drum fills, not to mention the pounding bass of House Of Shakira's Per Schelander. Typical Royal Hunt in other words.
Production quality here is the best I have heard from the band in years. Thoroughly intense throughout and evenly mixed to give all elements their own space. It sounds phenomenal. But again, some more memorable hooks points within the songs would have knocked this out of the park.
Also joining in the fun on this epic release is Doogie White (Rainbow, Malmsteen), Ian Parry (Elegy, Consortium Project), Kenny Lubcke (Jokers Wild, Narita), Henrik Brockmann (ex-Royal Hunt, Evil Masquerade) among others.
And for good measure - there are additional female vocals, violins, cellos and more added instrumentation. Yes, there is a lot of music within this release to appreciate and several listens are required to get to know the basics.
My two favourite songs are the tempo setting storming rocker The First Rock and a rare let up in tempo fro the softer High Noon at the Battlefield.
Elsewhere things are very consistent and do flow from one song to the next – essential in the scheme of a concept record. My favourite from the band since The Mission.
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