Denmark's Symphonic Prog Metal legends Royal Hunt hit high marks with their newest release; Dystopia, Part II. Their sixteenth full-length studio album has everything a lover of progressive rock and metal enjoys. Strong vocal parts mixed with excellent instrumental parts with lots of guitar and synthesizer solos!
December of 2020, the first part of the diptych Dystopia was released, which was based in concept on the classic Ray Bradbury novel 'Fahrenheit 451'. That book tells the story of a dystopian world where books are illegal and where censorship has a firm grip on society. It will come as no surprise that this Dystopia, Part II is also lyrically based on the same book and the textual content is very interesting. Of course, that won't help you much if the song material in which this concept is packaged is no good at all, but you don't have to worry about that because everything is just top notch.
Songwriter and keyboard player André Anderson has once again penned together some excellent songs, in which plenty of room has been left to give free rein to his own virtuosity, but guitarist Jonas Larsen also gets plenty of opportunity to excel. Besides the really great songs, lead singer D.C. Cooper is also one of the keys to success again on this new album.
Royal Hunt seemingly effortlessly manages to conjure up one great song after another. Not only the two aforementioned instrumentalists are convincing, but also Cooper leaves his mark vocally and with his powerful voice leaves a considerable and important mark on the song material present. That produces some particularly beautiful moments such as the long Thorn In My Heart, the power ballad Left In The Wind or the melodic Live Another Day and the epic Scream Of Anger to name but a few. But also the instrumental track The Purge is definitely worth listening to. This violin-introduced instrumental track quickly picks up speed with a lot of fun in the duels between guitar and keyboard. Just as on the first part, they have received vocal support from renowned singers. The album features some stellar performances by Mats Leven (Candlemass, TSO, Skyblood), Mark Boals (Y.J. Malmsteen, Ring Of Fire), Henrik Brockmann (Royal Hunt, Evil Masquerade, N'Tribe), Kenny Lubcke (Narita, Zoser Mez) and Alexandra Andersen (Royal Hunt, JSP). And that gives an extra cachet to the whole. And it certainly brings the songs to an even higher level as it already is.
Dystopia Part II is an excellent progressive metal record, which will surely find its way to fans of the genre. For people who like acts such as Kamelot, Dream Theater, Symphony X, Vanden Plas and Shadow Gallery I can only say: Don't miss this one!!! Because there are no weak points on Dystopia Part II and besides that it is really a very powerful Royal Hunt album which grabs you by the throat right from the start. Highly recommended!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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