Royal Hunt - X
Marquee/Avalon Records
Prog Melodic '70s Rock/Metal
11 songs (49'38")
Release year: 2010
Royal Hunt website
Reviewed by Erik

I’m becoming convinced that at some point a creativity mind block seems to occur after a certain number of albums, and a title is slapped on that simply utilizes the letter X. Is that all we can come up with, tapping the vast genius of the human brain? I’ve seen System X (Impellitteri), X To The Power Of 10 (Lanfear), and the ultimate stretch of the mind, X (Def Leppard). So, how do Danish prog rock/metal band Royal Hunt treat us to their tenth album title? To X, that’s how. X as in the Roman Numeral for 10. Now that’s brilliant! Of course, this is the next album after Paradox Part II, although that was arguably one of the best outings of the band’s storied past.

Speaking of Collision Course, that perspective sheds a bit of light on this new album and the surrounding stigma. It’s a slightly different step, more in the direction of ‘70s rock rather than the grandiose neoclassical prog metal we’ve become accustomed to from Royal Hunt. Call founder/composer Andre Anderson what you will, but he’s clearly the influence behind this new experimental sound. At any rate, the first few tracks might lead you to believe that we are continuing where Paradox II left off. End Of The Line and King For A Day are two good tracks to lead off with, and The Well -- my personal favorite of the bunch -- could be a twin to The Clan from Paradox II.

At this point the retro material starts in, and with the exception of Back To Square One and Blood Red Stars (both also classic Royal Hunt numbers), some of you may end up scratching your head. Shadowman, for example, had me thinking I was out on a cattle roundup, of all things. After repeated listens, it started dawning on me that there is simply so much complexity in this album, it sails right over everyone’s head first time out. The message is not only deep and multi-faceted, but the rhythms and melody lines are intertwined with each other in such a way that it takes patience and understanding to fully grasp what Royal Hunt has created. However, one of the things that made Paradox II such a great ride was the larger-than-life production and presentation. Not much of that is present here.

The combination of a subtle lyrical content and throwback ‘70s rock sound may well turn many fans away, and the term “letdown” has been flying around. Admittedly, being a Royal Hunt fan myself, this one was particularly hard to digest after the amazing Collision Course album, even though Mark Boals delivers in fine vocal form once again. That man’s range is just astounding, and he helps carry what would be some average tracks up into outer space. Despite this, I would have to recommend a great many other albums in Royal Hunt’s catalog before suggesting the spot marked X.

Killing Songs :
The Well, End Of The Line, Back To Square One, Blood Red Stars
Erik quoted 79 / 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 - Paradox II - Collision Course reviewed by Chris and quoted 90 / 100
Royal Hunt - Paper Blood reviewed by Cody and quoted 75 / 100
To see all 9 reviews click here
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