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Royal Hunt - 'XIII: Devil's Dozen' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     October 17, 2015    
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An excellent record with a magnificent production.

For those amongst you who know Royal Hunt, I don't have to explain that this massive-sounding, virtuous and innovative group of high-class musicians are always good for a surprise. Only about twenty months after their last release 'A Life To Die For', they are back with a vengeance. Their thirteenth studio-album 'XIII Devil's Dozen' arrives with two innovations.

The first is their pledge campaign; the band decided to give their fans the opportunity to be even closer to their "heroes" by offering them first-hand information, a direct dialogue with the members and – of course – limited edition merchandise in return for their financial support (for more, see my interview with André Andersen elsewhere in this issue*).

The second and biggest surprise for me was the album's sound since RH's mixture of rather classical Progressive Rock with orchestral elements has now became much heavier and more Symphonic Metal-influenced. My guess that it could've been linked to the latest line-up change – Allan Sørensen's changed drum-seats with Andreas Habo Johansson (ex-Narnia) – was proved by Anderson and it isn't for the worse.

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'...Dozen' kicks off with a rather RH-typical 'So Right, So Wrong', it's pretty heavy with lots of hidden Progressive elements and a very nice chorus; this would certainly make an ideal opener for future shows! 'May You Never (Walk Alone)' and 'Heart On A Platter' sound similar to the opener, yet heavier, more double bass-influenced and deeper routed in Symphonic Metal. Still, the arrangements were written with a lot of attention to detail and DC Cooper's brilliant vocal abilities give each song a unique touch.

'A Tear In The Rain' is much "darker" with a massive keyboard sound and a very catchy melody. It's as equally strong as 'Until The Day' which shows off the skills of every single band member at their best. 'Riches To Rags' blew me away with a very Folky beginning which evolves into a high-voltage Metal feast. 'Way Too Late' is a Modern Rock piece with a big shot of RH ingenuity that reminded me immediately of 'Running Out Of Tears' and therefore will probably become one of my favourites alongside bonus offering 'How Do You Know' which is simply a KILLER track – no more words needed.

I have to be honest and say my first impression of 'XIII Devil's Dozen' wasn't too good. The heavier, "very drum-based" sound and different mix didn't go straight into my head. But having listened to this release a couple of times on several different devices, I am strongly convinced that this is an excellent record with a magnificent production which will be enjoyed like a five-star, eight course meal by each of you who appreciates that Royal Hunt loathe musical stagnation.

Julia Braun

(* ... of Fireworks Magazine #71)

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