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Heady Metal: The Art Of Flourish! - 80%

DeathBySuicide, August 3rd, 2011

Royal Hunt begin to come fully into their own on "Clown In The Mirror". The album departs from the heavily hook laden "Land Of Broken Hearts" largely because there's variety. The band's progressive elements are in full glare and guitars, bass and drums are accommodated comfortably and given ample spotlight unlike "Land Of Broken Hearts" which thrived on keyboards tinkery and the predominance of vocals.

On songs like "Intro/Wasted Time" and "On The Run" you can hear the change. There's several guitar riffs interspersed carefully into the keyboard melodies and they all maintain their metal heaviness with the bass pummeling along in tandem and the drums given presence. "Ten To Life" sounds like a Queen song with its nicely layered guitar vocal harmonies. For that matter so does the title track, "Clown In The Mirror", a somber ballad whose bluesiness is undermined by the rather happy sounding melodies. Both score high marks for their fat layers of sound.

The other songs of note are "Bodyguard" which besides being really catchy and fun to sing along to, is also armed with one of the funkiest bass lines ever conjured in metal. The guitar solo plays like a breath of fresh air after all the excitement. It is not rushed but neither does it wander aimlessly. It plays and goes leading us back to Henrick Brockmann's rousing vocal performance. "Legion Of The Damned" has well penned lyrics and Brockmann's delivery simply inspires awe. The song also contains some grim guitar riffing which is unfortunately obscured to a minimal extent by the synthetic atmospherics. However when the solo kicks in, Jacob Kjaer utterly lets loose riding on scalar runs supported by principle songwriter André Andersen's keyboards, the both of them employing intricate harmonic phrases and milking emotion of a somber quality from them.

"Bad Blood" is simple and sheer hard rocking fun, immediately likable and easy to sing along to. Royal Hunt thrive with songs such as this. Not too intricate but not dumbed down either. "Epilogue" closes things out and would be a great stage song. Theatrical flowery melodies clash dramatically with chugging guitar and bass riffs and Kenneth Olsen's sometimes steady, sometimes odd n' insane pounding. The whole thing skids to a halt giving way to sorrowful piano and sounds Brockmann eerily singing like the ghost of Freddie Mercury.

Whereas the band would be more firmly established with the arrival of D.C Cooper on the "Moving Target" album and onwards, "Land Of Broken Hearts" and "Clown In The Mirror" serve their purpose as preamble well enough. They aren't landmark by any stretch but they "pave the way" and build up anticipation for you get the feeling that the Hunt is just getting started.