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ROYAL HUNT ‘Eyewitness’ Frontiers Records FRCD147 (2003)

The new album from the band who recently played a storming gig at this year’s Gods festival in the UK. Here the band tackles the subject of the world’s media and what they tell us. Main man Andre Andersen again composes all the songs along with his fantastic keyboard arrangements. The other secret weapon in Royal Hunt is vocalist John West, (who started of years ago as Ray Gillen’s replacement in Badlands if memory serves me right) who tackles the fast paced metal tracks with ease but can also pull off the mellower songs. This is something that other vocalists in similar bands tend to struggle at.

‘Hunted’ gets the album off at a brisk pace, plenty of fast paced drums and guitar, backed up by Andre Andersen’s keyboard runs. The political ‘Can’t Let Go’ (dealing with other nations who impose their will on others) has a heavy riff you could grate cheese on! Guitarist Jacob Kjaer deserves credit as he lays down solid rhythm and very strong solos, but without taking anything away form the songs melody line. The church organ led ‘The Prayer’ is a very gentle number and adds some light relief after the pummelling openers! John West shows off his mellower side here backed by a harmony vocal choir. Other highlights include the all out rock of ‘Burning The Sun’ and the brutal instrumental ‘5th Element’, with all of the band just showing what great musicians they are.

Bizarre track has to be Royal Hunt do jazz/lounge music on ‘Wicked Lounge’, which features sax player Steve Daniels. It makes the album much more varied and interesting but hopefully doesn’t mark the direction in which the band plans to head! ‘Game Of Fear’ heads into Judas Priest circa ‘Painkiller’, with pounding drums (provided throughout the album by guest drummer Allan Tschicaja) and John West in screaming form. The title track slows things right down with cello and piano backing-up West’s vocal and then midway through just as you’re mellowing out the band crash in! A fitting end to a truly monumental album.

As a recent convert to the prog/melodic metal genre I can honestly say that this band are one of the few stars (along with Rhapsody, Power Quest and Stratovarius). They have the songs on here backed by sound musicianship and in between tracks there are plenty of special effects/sound samples to keep you entertained. How the band will beat this album for songs and musicianship in the future is an interesting question but for now just enjoy this!



Review by Jason Ritchie

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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