Royal Quest - 'The Tale Of Man'

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Royal Quest - 'The Tale Of Man'

Overall this is very disappointing.

Pretty much the brainchild of one Yannis Androulakakis from Athens, Greece – a composer, arranger and classically-trained musician whose services seem quite in demand in theatre as well as Jazz and soundtrack-based music – Androulakakis originally formed Royal Quest alongside bassist Dennis Bekatoros back in 1998 and their first demo saw the light of day the following year. Inspired by the tales of 'The Eternal Champion' – a character that features in multiple novels across the board by Michael Moorcock – an epic fantasy Metal opera was conceived by the two musicians. But after many years of playing around with the concept and false starts, and also having enlisted Odysseas (potentially nicknamed after an ancient Greek hero) to play drums, Bekatoros bailed.

And it was probably just as well. Starting from scratch around five years ago Androulakakis has built up an overly ambitious project with himself handling all the guitars and programming and utilising three separate vocalists and a violinist. The end result is a messy, convoluted yet original mini Metal Opera that had great potential but is ultimately unsatisfying.

The four main protagonists are Androulakakis himself as the "Lord Of Chaos", Vasilis Axiotis as "Man", Angeliki Frangos as "Cassandra" and the curiously named Basil as "Lord Of Law". Of course chaos and law are part of the struggle for the Eternal Champion in Moorcock's novels and Androulakakis might have been better served doing a Fantasy Opera that's based on Elric Of Melnibone which would at least have been a more familiar tale for fans given Metal music and fantasy literature tend to overlap on many levels amongst people.

Of course if the music was first rate most fans would overlook the concept and lyrical ideas but even though the original players (including violinist Kalliopi Mitropoulou) are very good musicians and singers, the structure and pacing are clumsy and over dramatic in places.

'The Reign Of Law' is one such piece where Frangos' lyrics sound very forced and don't fit the musical timing whilst 'Dark Lord's Words' seems to have so many musical ideas planned for it that it descends into a very dramatic mess of guitars, drums and Classical overlay. The drumming overall is fabulous but you have to wonder whether it's very clever programming by Androulakakis or were Odysseas' parts kept from earlier; or did Androulakakis utilise the talents of Mirkko DeMaio who's involved in the Vivaldi Metal Project that Androulakakis is involved in as an arranger, as no drummer is listed. For my part I'm sticking to a human drummer as there are too many fills and broken up beats for it not to be so.

The mixing by acclaimed Mika Jussila is as you would expect, but overall this is very disappointing.

Carl Buxton

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