Usually when I stumble on to those “under rated” power metal lists I usually at least recognize the bands, whether visually or by name or I’ve already heard their music. Royal Hun was one of the bands I’d not ever heard of or even recognized, which struck me as odd because I love digging up old power metal albums and this one gathers a lot of praise. It might also gather a lot of ire. More of that later…

Royal Hunt are most definitely a power metal band. Soaring guitars, passionate vocals. Hooky, catchy, riffing, etc. They get labeled as a progressive power metal band, and sure, there’s a bit of that in there too, but it’s not overtly progressive. Hues of early Fates Warning and Queensryche come to mind but even those are more progressive than whats going on here. Where I think that genre tag comes from is the focus on sci-fi themes, epic song intros, and abrupt changes in pace in mood.

The one main thing that stands out about this band is the keyboard driven sound they deliver. It’s highly interweaved with the music and is probably the most featured instrument on the album. So much so that it’s probably symphonic metal…

And there’s the reason that this album could draw criticism. I’ve read numerous resources citing Royal Hunt as the forefathers of the “Symphonic Metal” genre IE: bands like Epic and Nightwish, and while I’m no scholar on that genre, I did used to listen to that stuff when I was first discovering metal, and yes, there is a lot in common between that and Paradox. If they had operatic vocals on this it would almost be indistinguishable, except for the part of the well crafted an interesting songs. Symphonic Metal is so by the books and rigid. Female with opera style vocals, power metal style guitars without the flair, dark, gloomy, gothic inspired visual, wash, rinse, repeat. If Royal Hunt is responsible for that genre, I’ll accept that but those bands only seemed to really take the symphonic and power metal parts. Royal Hunt made a hell of an album here and while it borders heavily on the cheesy side, it’s still close enough to grounded that it doesn’t quite fall over. There’s some great songs on here, some great instrumentation and a little bit of critical thinking thrown in to a typically straight-forward genre. It’s good and you should check it out.

 

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