Reviews June/05

Royal Hunt / Paper Blood / FR CD 245


Royal Hunt - Danish/Russian/American/Swedish super band! Tracklisting:Break your Chains; Not my Kind; memory Lane; Never give up; Seven Days; SK 983; Kiss of faith; Paper Blood; Season's Change; Twice around the World.

Royal Hunt is back with another conceptual album filled with high quality progressive baroc-esque inspired melodic hard rock (phew! that was hard to promounce). As I wasn't too fond of their latest works - which failed a little in the "inspiration-department", i'm really hooked on "Paper Blood" which has a lot of the original vibe! Though the line-up on this one has changed on a couple of instruments. First of all original drummer Kenneth Olsen (from Denmark) has returned to the multi national camp and second they have added a new guitarist Marcus Jidell (from Sweden) - so beside founding member and keyboard wizzard André Andersen (from Denmark but with Russian roots) and American ace vocalist John West (with roots as an Native American). So both musically as mentally Royal Hunt has a wide range!
I don't remember John West that aggressive - but on "paper Blood" the material is of an structure that allows him to shine on the powerful though melodic parts. Of course Andersen and his keyboard is very clear in the wall of sound they create - i think there are 4 instrumental breaks here, but new 6-stringer Marcus Jidell challenge him right to the limit and Kenneth Olsen knows the compositions of Andersen & Co. and can keep the pace.
As i said, i think this album is very good and beside very long instrumental tracks like "Memory Lane", "SK983" and "Twice around the World" - but you know that when you buy a Royal Hunt record, Huh? The album kicks off with a bombastic metal track "Break your Chains" but next track "Not my Kind" is much more complex and riff based... but the real clue to me is track #7 "Kiss of Faith" which starts of acustically and also has dobro guitar on it - big and complex - yet melodic and John West really shows the world that he is one of the best singers around at the moment! What a range... But don't miss the title track and Season's change" either!
The band spent a whole year in André Andersen own studio - and it really pays off. The sound, music and compositions are well structured and powerful - more powerful that i remember Royal Hunt - so welcome back!

Xsavior / Caleidoscope / ATZ 02039


Xsavior - Progressive west coast from Sweden...?! Tracklisting:April Skies; Lex the Fly; Mr. Chairman; Take me Home; I Memorial of... (Taj Mahal part 1); By the golden River (Taj Mahal part 2); Waves of the Sea (Taj Mahal part 3); Green Mile; Cosmic Virus; Material World; A Snake in Paradise; Xsavior.

Swedish intelligent prog rock band Xsavior started out when vocalist Göran Edman was working on the vocals for guitarist Benny Jansson's third solo album "Save the World" - producer on this thing was drummer Daniel Flores. After finishing the album for Benny they decided to stay in touch and called some old friends of Flores keyboard player Matt Norberg and Mathias Garnĺs on bass! 2 years later we have this masterpiece... "Caleidoscope".
The album is an ambitious mix of progressive elements, digestable wescoast, nice melodic tunes, jazzy spots and sheer power rock... I don't really know how to categorize it, and I suppose that is the whole idea of this orchestra - no limits and no boundries. All of this creative/exentric musicians can play and sing freely. This can be heard on a track like "Take me Home" which is a mix of Queen, Kansas and Eagles - imagine that! On this CD there are no "easy" tracks, all tracks are demanding (more or less, obviously) a lot of attention from the listener. Every note is a part of a well structured musical challenging universe made of world class musicians.
There are a lot of amazing tunes here - but to me the 3-song suite (Taj Mahal part 1,2 and 3) is THE experience on this record - amazing! The cover art work by Mathias Norén at Progart is outstanding as usual - not as dark as some of his work, but this music may be complex but light and friendly, though. So if you have some time to digest this one it is absolutely worth it - Xsavior is a blast!

StoneLake / Reincarnation / Stone 2


StoneLake - Swedish melodic heavy rock! Tracklisting:Reincarnation; You strike me with Love; Saint or evil; All i need; Mistreated Heart; Mason (The miracle Boy); Walk on the Rainbow; Only one Reason (album version); Call my Name; WonderLand; Tsunami (For the Victims in Asia).

StoneLake is a Swedish re-united band featuring the talents of Peter Grundström on vocals and Jan Ĺkesson on nearly everything else like guitars, keyboards, producing, mixing and engineering the whole thing - oh, besides the cover/labeldesign, too . Only additional musician is Jeremy Child on drums.
Jan & Peter know each other way back from 1984. Jan played the guitar in a band called Ravage and Peter was the singer in a band called Whitelight - Jan joined Peter in his band and stayed there for 3 years inspired by Van Halen, Toto and Dokken. Later Peter formed Kee Avenue and Jan wanted to be more "heavy" and established new bands like Perfect Stranger and Dr. Blue.
Like other Swedish bands they are very melodic - but these two guys has another way of being melodic - they also have included Jans addiction to the "dark side of the force" in mind so in fact they are a perfect mix of i.e. Dokken and Skid Row. Peters high pitched vocals goes very well with Jans raw and screaming guitars (a la Zakk Wylde - just listen to "Only one Reason") and it works very well on tracks like "Saint or evil", big opener "Reincarnation" and "Mistreated Heart", but also the more melodic sides is present on tracks like "All I need" - but my favorite track is "Walk on the Rainbow" with the thunderous drums included and a great way of handling the background vocals - great stuff!
If you want to support the independent scene of melodic heavy rock - StoneLake is definitely worth a listen. They have made an extraordinary record with great tracks, good production and excellent musicianship!

© Steen Peitersen 1999-2005