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Royal Hunt - 'Cast In Stone' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/2b/5a/69/royal-hunt-cast-in-stone-85-1521145556.jpg Hot

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Breathtaking and brilliant � Royal Hunt have delivered yet another masterclass!

After more than twenty-five years, a dozen or so studio albums and more label relationships than you can comfortably shake the proverbial shitty stick at, Copenhagen-based Symphonic/Progressive Power Metal masters Royal Hunt have decided it's time to go it alone. A brave decision perhaps (although less so in this digital age), but with a brand that's seen by everyone as a universal guarantee of the highest quality, it's an eminently logical one that will, at last, allow them to become true masters of their own destiny.

Follow-up to 2015's 'XIII � Devil's Dozen' opus, 'Cast In Stone' has all the usual hallmarks we've come to expect from the Royal Hunt camp... a surfeit of passion drenched melodrama, emotional bombast and sizzling melodies! It's possibly a little darker and heavier than what we may be accustomed to, certainly noticeably edgier at times, but that uniquely grandiloquent sound still has all the Symphonic magnificence and harmonious intensity we know and love.

Kicking off with quite the eerie keyboard intro, seven-and-a-half-minute proper-opener 'Fistful Of Misery' gradually builds into an imposing epic with awe-inspiring peaks and reverberating troughs highlighting the continually shifting dynamic. Andre Andersen's prowess as a composer/arranger/producer has never been in question and once again he's constructed a sonic masterpiece that blends dashing keyboard crescendos, stirring rhythms, barbed riffs and searing vocals � it's great to hear D.C. Cooper is still on the kind of form that has made him a peerless Jedi Master in this particular field � into one gloriously overblown explosion of sound and energy!

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The slightly more urgent 'Last Soul Alive' makes its presence felt immediately with its Baroque keyboards (very Deep Purple) before picking up the pace and disappearing down the rabbit hole into Wonderland; it's vintage Royal Hunt � pure and simple! Then there's the cutting light and shade of 'Sacrifice' (it's deliciously different and this is the one track above all others I'm currently drawn back to time and again) and the spiralling urgency of 'The Wishing Well' � half an hour in and only four tracks down!

I could go on but having made such a mesmerising impression with tracks one through four, you're going to have to trust me that the reaming quartet � 'A Million Ways To Die', the sinewy 'Save Me II', 'Cast In Stone' and 'Rest In Peace' � are just as vibrant and impressive.

Breathtaking and brilliant � Royal Hunt have delivered yet another masterclass!

Dave Cockett

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