|Royal Hunt Eye Witness||Frontiers Records|
Another solid album from one of Europe's favourite hard rock acts. No surprise really, as these guys know what they are doing, know what their fans like and know their way around the studio.|
Studio album number 8 (if you don't include the material on The Watchers) sees the band covering the subject matter of media and what it is "feeding us with". So it's a loosely based concept album.
The music of Eye Witness is not radically different from anything else the band has done with second singer John West. The album is not as intense as its predecessor, the very excellent Mission album, but it still rocks with the perfected attitude that will keep loyal fans happy. The fact that each song can be individually removed from the album and appreciated on its own, makes the album more accessible and therefore increases it's chances of appealing to new listeners. This album more than the last couple has that chance.
While I prefer the intensity of The Mission and the quality of the songwriting on that album, this album is by no means a weaker album – just a little different in its approach. In fact, the production quality on Eye Witness is a little thicker and sonically heavier than previously. The sound is crisp and clear and very well mixed.
As far as the performance, these guys are consummate professionals and as expected sound on top of their game - made even better by that really clean mix. And vocalist John West just keeps getting better and better.
As far as the songs themselves go, there are no weak tracks. The running time of between 3 and 6 minutes offers some good variety and the fact there is only 10 tracks means there are no fillers.
The crunchy rocker Can't Let Go rolls along at a great pace; the keyboard/vocal ballad The Prayer is quite intense; Burning The Sun employs that much loved double kick-drum pace; and the title track Eye Witness is the most epic of the album, running from a atmospheric instrumental intro to flat out hard rocker when it hits the three minute mark. And don't forget the required instrumental - that's track 7, 5th Element.
Wicked Lounge is the one track that sticks out as the obviously experimental number of the album. This jazzy blues number features horns and a bar room swagger that will raise some eyebrows. But it works well.
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