Royal Hunt - '2016'

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Royal Hunt - '2016'

This is bloody marvellous, bordering on immense.

It's hard to believe that it's twenty years since I acted on the recommendation to check out a "new" Danish band, Royal Hunt, by buying their '1996' live double album. That release was the beginning of a twenty year love affair with a band that, in my honest opinion, are one of the finest groups to ever commit music to disc. Now fast forward through a few line-up changes and some nine studio albums since then, and you will find RH as powerful, melodic and utterly irrepressible as ever.

'2016 (Live)' sees the band recorded on stage in Russia, a territory where RH have gained massive popularity over the past ten years. The danger here is people will automatically compare this '2016' live release with '1996', which is a bit like comparing apples and oranges. For the long standing fans of the band, there is much here you will be familiar with, particularly such live staples as 'Flight', 'Wasted Time', 'Martial Arts' and 'Stranded'; you will find all these on '1996', in fact, they've all been hardcore staples of practically every RH live set for twenty years. There are two non-D.C. Cooper tracks; 'Lies' which was originally sung by John West (from the 'Fear' album) and 'Army Of Slaves' which was originally voiced by former Yngwie Malmsteen front-man Mark Boals.

Musically in 2016, despite the loss of guitarist Marcus Jidell who is an immense player, all I can say is the transition is seamless and that is possibly the highest compliment I can give to the musicians cast in a "slightly" supporting role of André Andersen and Cooper, the two longest serving members of the band. I could pick out specific highlights on this double album (which is also available as a 2CD/DVD or Blu-ray set) but I shall not bore you with tales of bombastic drumming, intricate keyboards, scorching guitar and earth-shaking bass all topped off with one of the finest voices within Hard Rock. All you need to know is Royal Hunt are at the very top of their game, both musically and visually. The fourteen song album may be a few tracks short for the purists amongst us, however, considering the immense show of talent and superlative song-writing contained, I for one will forgive them for not fleshing it out more. This is bloody marvellous, bordering on immense.

Kieran Dargan

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