Royal Hunt has been around since 1989, and are based in Denmark. Throughout their career they’ve sold over one million records worldwide. Their greatest success was in the mid–1990’s with vocalist D.C. Cooper. Over the years the lineup has changed dramatically, with keyboardist André Anderson being the only constant member.
This compilation chronicles some of their most–loved music, coincidentally from the most successful time period of their career, when Cooper was the vocalist.
Heart Of The City (Best Of 1992-1999) does a good job of providing a broad but informative presentation of the band’s work. Listening through it reveals that the band stuck to pretty much the same guns between albums, but at least they’re good ones. Anderson’s virtuosic keyboards lend a classical, symphonic edge that nicely works in tandem with the rock. Cooper’s vocals have been compared to Rob Halford’s many a time, and it isn’t hard to see why. His operatic pipes alone are worth checking out this band if you haven’t already. The songs may not have much variance between them, but they’re all very listenable. I’m not surprised at all that this band found an audience.
One thing I like about Royal Hunt is that their classical/symphonic influences are tastefully incorporated, and not overdone. The opening keyboard lick to “Silent Scream” wouldn’t sound out of place in Bach’s catalog, and the synthesized keyboards in “Tearing Down The World” pervade the entire song, but these two are outliers; other than those the songs sound well–balanced, with one aspect not outshining another too much. “Fear” is the most balanced track. Starting at the opposite end of the spectrum, it’s more heavy metal and chugs along until the band interjects a softer section and gradually develops that to become heavier little by little.
I think this is a good compilation that does what it’s supposed to well–show the band’s best material together. Some albums like this don’t sound cohesive, because they aren’t supposed to be and that’s ok. But to new ears this collection could pass as an entirely new album in and of itself, as all the songs seem to fit in with each other.
Dedicated Royal Hunt fans may be able to advise you better on where to begin if you’re interested in this band, but this seems to me like a good place to start.
Key Tracks: Fear, Tearing Down The World, Running Wild
May 22, 2012