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This is Royal Hunt’s tenth album already? It’s hard to believe, but when you think about it, the band released their first album all the way back in 1992. They should have chosen a better name than “X” though, especially since so many bands have done that before them.
This is the second album to feature former Yngwie Malmsteen singer Mark Boals. He did a fine job on their previous album and is one of several great singers that Royal Hunt has employed over the years. Their final album with D.C. Cooper, “Paradox,” was one of my favorite albums of all time. Their final album with John West, “Paper Blood,” was excellent as well. However, I hope Boals stays on for at least another album because this one is disappointing.
In the months before the album was released, frontman André Andersen stated in several interviews that the band was attempting a more 70s rock sound on this album, which excited me a bit because I love rock music from that era, despite this being different from Royal Hunt’s traditional melodic metal sound. However, the results were something more like an 80s rock sound.
The guitars are buried, aside from showing up a few times in admittedly solid solos. I admire Andersen’s restraint with the keyboards, but all of the instruments are so simplified that there’s not much to stand out besides Boals’ vocals. Boals does a fine job with the material he’s given, particularly on “End of the Line” and “The Well,” but unfortunately he cannot make this a magnificent album on his own. There are still a good amount of pleasurable songs, but nothing approaching the heights that I know this band is capable of.
“X” shows Royal Hunt breaking relatively new ground, but it sounds much different than advertised. There are still some fine moments, but overall this is somewhat disappointing. This is probably still worth hearing, it just won’t end up on my best of 2010 list any time soon.
Originally published at www.metal-temple.com