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Royal Hunt

Dystopia Part 2

Review by Gary Hill

I have enjoyed Royal Hunt's style of merging heavy metal with symphonic prog since I first heard their Paradox album when it came out. While I've not been blown away by every single album since then, I've liked all of them I've heard, and some have risen to that same level. I would say that this new disc, which I feel is progressive rock with metal angles rather than heavy metal, is right up with their best stuff. I can say with almost 100-percent certainty that this album will be at the top of my "best of 2022" list as it dwarfs all the competition for me. It's a pure masterpiece.

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Track by Track Review
Midway (Resumption)
The sounds of a scratchy record are heard at the beginning of this. A symphonic music arrangement is heard low in the mix while that record noise remains. A needle is dragged across a record to segue into the next number.
Thorn in My Heart
The band fire out with some killer symphonic metal sound. This thing does such a great job of merging prog and metal styles into something that is powerful, meaty and so cool. The instrumental break features some amazing guitar and keyboard work. This drops back to a neo-symphonic section that feels almost soundtrack like for a round of vocals. It drives back upward from there into the song proper. The sounds of a train station come in at the end of this and segue it into the next number.
The Key of Insanity
There is an electronic symphonic angle to this at first as it rises above the train sounds that bring it in from the previous track. A driving, staccato metal jam emerges from there. It still has plenty of symphonic and proggy angles in the mix, but it's more purely metal than the previous track was. A cool shift occurs later. It gives way to a keyboard and rhythm section driven movement with weird sound clips that seem like they might be Vincent Price in the mix. That section eventually gives way to a reprise of the song proper that holds it to the end. The actually closing of the piece is made up of more effects and atmospherics.
Live Another Day
Keyboards start us out here. The song turns symphonic for a time before settling into more metal zones for the first vocals. It drops to piano in a symphonic styled movement for another vocal section further down the road. When it powers back upward from there it is much more symphonic and proggy. It goes through a number of twists and turns, and is very powerful. The crackling vinyl sound, followed by other sound effects take it out.
The Purge
Wow! The metallic, symphonic sounds that bring this in are purely on fire. This instrumental is such a powerhouse metal meets prog tune.
One More Shot
Coming in heavy and a bit more mainstream, there is still plenty of symphonic prog in the mix here. I love the main riffing as this song gets underway. This does land more pure metal than some of the rest of the stuff here. It has some killer guitar work built into it, too. Still, there are enough prog things at play to keep it from being pure metal. Part of that comes from some of the keyboard work, but the general arrangement has some prog magic, too. Sound effects that include someone running and sirens are heard at the end of this.
Scream of Anger
At over 14 minutes of music, this is the epic of the set. A full symphonic arrangement starts it. At gradually shifts toward more rocking zones, but that neo-classical element remains in the driver's seat. That works through, and then it drops back to more a more sedate section that has some almost blues guitar soloing paired with symphonic rock styled bursts of sound. This just keeps evolving with such powerhouse neo-classical jamming emerging. Just as you think it can't get any more powerful, it does. Around the five-minute mark it drops back to mellower zones. The first vocals come in over the top of that arrangement. It works its way back upward to more meaty stuff as it continues. This drives out with symphonic hard-rocking power and some great vocal hooks as it continues. This eventually works out to a driving, yet mellower, dropped back movement further down the road. That gives way to some seriously metallic jamming that gets into neo-classical zones. This gets so powerful before it's done. Sound effects take over at the close to segue into the next piece.
Left in the Wind
Piano and vocals with some icing on the cake keyboards start this. It builds out from there to a triumphant sounding arrangement that is mainstream, but also proggy. I can make out hints of jazz and some Alan Parsons Project here. It eventually works out to more rocking zones. We get some killer guitar soloing later that is at times more emotional and at other points more technical. This has plenty of symphonic vibes amidst the metallic jamming. It drops back to just piano after the halfway mark, and the vocals come over that arrangement. It feels moodier this time around. We get a blast of symphonic metal from there to continue. Eventually this crescendos to end, and we get a ticking clock and a chiming bell. A voice says "time's up" as we move into the next track.
Resurrection F451
Powerful neo-classical prog metal brings this in with a dramatic and anthemic mode. This instrumental piece has a real soundtrack vibe, and, although fairly short, makes for a dramatic conclusion to the disc.
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