Night is Young
I've been toying with reviewing this album for a while, and I decided to bite the bullet and just do it because of the hate that I've seen directed at this young band. I don't feel that it's deserved, and Royal Jester is one of a wave of the new generation of power metal bands that seem to be excelling right out of the gate with their first release. That said, Royal Jester is the sort of band that I feel a certain guilt while enjoying. Similar to bands like Freedom Call and their ilk, Royal Jester plays supremely cheesy and melodic power metal that is unabashedly corny (whether this is intentional or a result of poor songwriting or interpretation remains to be seen) but incredibly memorable.
I think that Night is Young is probably as inaccessible to black metal fans as something like Burzum is to myself. This most definitely embodies everything that most people will complain about in a “flower metal” album: it's happy, fast-paced, the lyrics are sometimes mindless, and they've swathed themselves in so many influences that some might not be able to detect any hint of originality or creativity. In some ways, I can even agree with this. There's definitely nothing novel about the concept or the execution of Royal Jester's debut whatsoever. If you consider this total and unforgivable twaddle, you don't need to read any further.
Now that I have the attention of the faithful, listen to what I have to say: you will like this album. It's a bit rough on the English pronunciation, but that's easily forgiven for the band's expert command of striking melodies and supremely confident and proficient guitar work. I myself haven't been able to extricate the title track from my head for a couple of weeks, and the maddening hooks don't end there. Songs like “Enter the Mist”, “Wings of Tomorrow”, and “Royal Jester” are all bound to have the same effect. While they've done very little to set themselves apart, Royal Jester has this shiny quality to their music (I have no other way to explain it) that defies confusion with other artists. For an example of what I mean, I suggest a listen or two to the eponymous “Royal Jester”.
A couple of notes on the band's performance: the singer should avoid delving too deeply into his vocal range. He's clearly a tenor and should stay that way, as his voice begins to sound strange and perhaps a bit strangled when he swings too low. Additionally, whoever writes the guitar leads and licks should bloody well keep doing it, because they're some of the best little features of this album period. The rollicking post-chorus line from “Night is Young” is exemplary of what you can expect from the band in general. Overall, the band exudes speed and energy, as well as what is obviously a great passion for their music. This is harmless, fun, and totally listenable.
Because of the obvious immaturity of the band, and the vocal imperfections evident in some places on this album, I can't rate it extremely highly. Royal Jester is to be commended on their spirit and effort however, and I'll be looking sharply for what the Jester has to offer the next time around.
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The Protagonist's Rating: 7.75 out of 10