Royal Hunt - Eyewitness review
02. Cant Let Go
03. The Prayer
04. Edge Of The World
05. Burning The Sun
06. Wicked Lounge
07. 5th Element
08. Help Us God
09. Game Of Fear
11. Day Is Dawning [Japanese & Russian bonus]
12. Martial Arts [special edition] [European bonus]
13. Follow Me [Live Acoustic in Japan 2002] [European bonus]
After a couple of hit and miss affairs in the past, Denmark's Royal Hunt [who consist of vocalist John West, guitarist Jakob Kjaer, bassist Steen Mogensen, drummer Allan Tschicaja and group mastermind, keyboardist Andre Anderson] return with their most ambitious album date, Eyewitness. Royal Hunt's eighth album is a theme-based affair centred on the idea of media and it's control of what it chooses to let the public know. Regardless of what you make of the lyrical content on the album, there's plenty of heavy rock that will be sure to please their long standing fan base, and may even attract some new listeners.
With the opening babble of multiple news reporters, 'The Hunted' slowly winds its way through a grand introduction before the heavy melodic riffing of Kjaer breaks away. West is in strong form, while the back up vocals adds a solid bolster to the metal rocker. 'Can's Let Go' continues the bands new found heaviness with some memorable guitar work and striking keyboards, but it's West vocals that really stand out as being the real surprise. Unlike his previous work with Royal Hunt, he now seems to take the centre stage with the commanding role within his voice. Comparisons to Alice In Chains? 'Hate To Feel' riff in 'Edge Of The World' are evident, but it soon dissipates as West takes the song through its verses.
The stand out cut on Eyewitness is the classic epic 'Burning The Sun'. The keyboards are virtually dumped in favour of a huge guitar sound, and it works so well. The trademark huge chorus hasn's been forsaken, and West excels with the huge impact his voice commands.
Anderson allows himself a brief solo moment with the neo-classical instrumental '5th Element', while 'Game Of Fear' and 'Help Us God' [which has a slight classic Deep Purple sound about it] conclude the albums heavier moments.
As good as all this sounds, I?ve always found there are a few songs on a Royal Hunt album [and John West solo albums too for that matter] that are always out of context with the rest of the album. Sadly, Eyewitness is no exception.
The jazz experiment that is 'Wicked Lounge' isn's bad, but really doesn's fit with the rest of the album, while 'The Prayer' suffers the same fate with the church organ influenced backing track. The final number and title track is a slow building number [with a slight Latin influence?] that eventually ends up as a full on speed number, only to be marred when it ends suddenly to the sound of a scratched record.
Eyewitness is quite experimental and heavy for Royal Hunt, and that's a good thing. Aside from the couple of dubious tracks, this is their most consistent album in years. For classic traditional metal, with a slight neo-classical influence, this is one album worth checking out.
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