Royal Hunt - The Mission


Not blessed, or merciful
Apr 11, 2001
Sarf Lundin, Innit
Royal Hunt - The Mission
Century Media - 2001
By Rodrigo


After D.C. Cooper left Royal Hunt I basically stopped following them and was not at all interested in their last album Fear. That was the first album with vocalist John West and I remember thinking that I was not impressed with this decision. I had heard his work with Artension and I just thought he was an average singer. Luckily for me a copy of Royal Hunt’s new album The Mission recently arrived in the mail and I must say that this is the year’s biggest surprise! With virtually no expectation of what it was going to sound like I had no idea what to expect. Be prepared to be blown away by The Mission because it is one of the year’s best releases and maybe tops Paradox as the best Royal Hunt album.

The Mission is based on Ray Bradbury’s classic science fiction novel The Martian Chronicles. Not only has Royal Hunt able to recreate the stories from that novel but the music makes you feel like you are not on Earth, you are on another planet and that planet is Mars. Everything about this album screams perfection. John West’s amazing singing (this the best I have ever heard him sing), Andre Andersen’s atmospheric and impressive keyboard playing, Jacob Kjaer’s heavy and melodic guitars and Steen Mogensen’s excellent bass playing makes The Mission a superb feat of talent and musicianship. About the only complaint I have is that the drums credited to Kenneth Olsen and Kim Johanneson, while not bad at all, lack some of that "magic" that the other members have. About the first thing you will notice is that this is Royal Hunt’sheaviest album to date (at least of those that I have heard). The guitars are crunchy, heavy and could right well belong on a power metal album.

Just check out the best song "World Wide War" and tell me that The Mission is not a heavy album. This song with its fast pace, heavy guitars, memorable chorus and the album’s best guitar solo is representative of everything that is great about this album. But none of the melody that we have come accustomed to hear in a Royal Hunt album is missing. With "Surrender" the band goes to show that it hasn’t lost touch with their roots. The beginning is characterized by excellent melodic guitar and keyboards trade-offs and a terrific bass line. As soon as John starts singing, the song speeds up and everything flows so well. "The Mission" is another excellent song. It is also fast paced, heavy and melodic, John‘s vocals are awesome (especially the hushed parts of the verses) and the instrumental part has a very cool piano part.

Not everything of The Mission is fast paced either. The two power ballads "Judgement Day" and "Days of No Trust" are beautiful pieces that capture perfectly the feeling one gets from reading the stories these two songs are based on from The Martian Chronicles. John’s singing is really heartfelt and emotional and the music just adds to the strong themes of the lyrics.

Another aspect of The Mission that I really enjoy is the segues in between the main songs. Most of them are instrumentals with the exception of "Clean Sweep" and they all to the story line with its music. "Metamorphosis" is a piano driven piece, "Dreamline" has atmospheric and beautiful keyboards with great guitar melodies in the background, and "Fourth Dimension" is a fast paced song with plenty of guitar and keyboard trade-offs to satisfy fans of both instruments. While one might complain that these segues take away from the flow of the album, I think it totally enhances and makes The Mission the excellent album that it is.

This album will probably appeal to more progressive metal fans but I urge every fan of heavy metal to seriously check this album out. This is one of those essential albums that every collection should have. The Mission is excellent!