ROYAL HUNT – Eyewitness

ROYAL HUNT - Eyewitness


Frontiers Records
Release date: June 23, 2003

User Review
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For a release from a “group of musicians” that bear the name Royal Hunt, but have a revolving cast of players, you couldn’t get a more cohesive sounding CD from a band that has been together for 10 years. Eyewitness is Royal Hunt’s eighth studio album (and the fourth to be reviewed on Metal Express, ahem,) and if it’s not their best to date, it’s at least as good as their past few releases, which is saying a lot. Plus, on the song “Wicked Lounge,” they offer the insight, “write a check, or cash, it’s just as easy as scratching your ass.” You can’t get that kind of knowledge just anywhere.

The Royal Hunt machine is operated by Andre Andersen, who plays keyboards and also wrote all of the songs on Eyewitness. John West, formerly of bands like Artension and Badlands, provides the voice here. They’ve had different vocalists before, probably most namely DC Cooper, but West is phenomenal. In fact, you might as well use that word for Steen Morgensen on bass, Jacob Kjaer and drummer Allan Tschicaja; the musicianship is that good.

The first song “Hunted,” begins with voices from TV journalists, media dolts and the dreaded paparazzi. This CD is a concept album of sorts, based on the idea “What is the media feeding us today?” The intro to the song, keyboards, melodic and precise guitars, leads you into a song about being, well, “hunted” down and being unable to escape. In this case, they mean the media.

On the lyrics to “Can’t Let Go,” you’ll hear a little more political sounding tale. “Every inch of their country, we’re proclaiming is free, until the last of the natives, have no places to be. Educating with fire, liberating with steel …” Strong stuff. You’ll hear an almost Dokken-ish edge to West’s voice here, but it’s the ‘80s Dokken, not the 2000 version. In other words, it rules.

If you had to pick a best track on here, the safe bet is on “Burning the Sun.” This song has everything: a deep chugging bass line, atmospheric keyboards, sharp riffing, riotous drumming and a scream. What else is there? Plus, the guitar solo here is probably the best one on the whole CD. And the drumming. And the keyboards. And the vocals. You get the idea.

“Wicked Lounge,” is something akin to Extreme’s “When I First Kissed You.” It’s a lounge act, a completely hilarious song that doesn’t really fit the CD musically, but definitely fits thematically. You’ll hear West sing quite a bit differently here, but his words of wisdom will make you chortle. In fact, you might wonder if they are being serious, until you hear him sing, “and everyone’s such a son of a bitch.” And at the end, when he sings, “the point is the world is too thick,” you’ll get a gist of what the CD is about.

Other stand out tracks are “Edge of the World,” “5th Element” for its keyboards and frenetic pace, and “Eyewitness,” a soft, almost sultry ballad that turns into a screamer.

Eyewitness just does everything right. If you don’t have it by now, quit scratching your ass, pay check or cash and pick it up.

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