Hard Reviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Royal Hunt – The Mission
(Century Media)

Whether by design, accident, bad taste or good taste, Royal Hunt have decorated a pretty perplexed corner of Camaro fuzzy dice metal for themselves. Andre's has honed his '80s keyboard and '80s drum sound to the point where you can't ignore its relentless buzz, or for that matter, its brave new wave datedness. And with John West vocalizing like a sword-wielding hero who has seen the rock wars (or Yngwie's revolving saloon door), Royal Hunt sound like a long-shelved Rainbow artifact cut with proficient no-names by a Ritchie momentarily obsessed by synthesizers. Or hard-tail Saga. But not exactly power metal, more like pomp rock from that genre's heyday ('78 to '83), gone for baroque, bristled with electricity and background activity. Lyrically, the album is based on Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles, but the themes are universal, pardon the pun. One complaint: without all the intros and non-songs (six of them), the album's pretty short. Full hails though for finding, amongst a large crowd, a way to sound both distinct and classically metal.
Rating 8

Glenn Hughes – Building The Machine

Three years ago I never would have given a damn. Would have made note of the complex history, had a brief pleasant visit, moved on. But here I sit playing – repeatedly playing, passionately so – a Glenn Hughes album and a Billy Sheehan album. Classic rock. Vibrant new classic rock. Part of my bubbling enthusiasm is the underground swell of things like Ringo's All Starrs, The Voices Of Classic Rock, what Bill Wyman is doing. Throw a bunch of low-mid to low-uppers together (maybe under the royal wing of a true upper) and watch it spin heavenly old-spuns. These people are coming to your casino, er, town. But sweet baby Jesus, Mr. Hughes. This man is singing his heart out, and he is swellegantly Kotzen funky within the context of pumping, boiling, roiling rock 'n' roll. Glenn has bridged the divide over the last few albums of his funk and his metal fans. And he is electric with activity all the time, more than a consummate vocalist, the elixir of youth. With style. Building The Machine... like I say, I might not have cared a while back. But after getting called a motherfucker repeatedly (as well as being ordered to do all sorts of crowd things, motherfuckers) by the Ozzfest bands both at the hell inferno that was the pavement-wrapped Toronto date, and then again this morning by the album, it's nice to feel some love. Glenn's a complex double helix of such joy, weaving personal philosophies, zero sum to infinite emotion, and formidable vocal prowess (spot the Terence Trent D'Arby tones all over the torrid 'Big Sky') throughout a batch of gorgeous songs (one being a sparkling, spunky remake of Stormbringer's 'Highball Shooter') that wiggle, hula and generally celebrate the uplifting potential of music. Some of it's heavy, some of it's not. Doesn't matter. Throw it all away and celebrate excellence. That's a cliché, mind you. Some people find it impossible to enjoy excellent black metal or free jazz. But I ask anyways. Because it's not just Glenn. He asks nothing less than bawling out loud pheromone giddiness from his band, within a very mainstream language, songs that are highly, highly Classic. The grooves, the elephant bray of the organ work, the backing vox... these are starry performances poured like molten gold into Motown metal molds. And back to our vacant vanilla cliche', I just feel that lovers of the idea of music should care. Snap to it, because that's what this record does relentlessly: it snaps.
Rating 10

Hard Reviews Page 3