Royal Hunt - The Watchers

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Frontiers
Catalog Number: FRCD107
Format: CD
Total Time: 51:55:00

Before their last studio outing, The Mission, Royal Hunt released a Japanese only EP entitled Intervention. This new release, The Watchers, is an extension of that EP, which is broken up into 3 sections - one new LONG song, some live material, as well as newly re-recorded songs. For those who don't know much about Royal Hunt, they are a symphonic, keyboard driven melodic metal band with progressive tendencies. A type of laid back Stratovarius without the pace or the loudness, but with one hell of keyboardist in Andre Andersen and a vocalist in the vein of John West (Artension). In fact, it is John West! :-)

Let's kick it off with the new song first. "Intervention" (the full version with Parts I and II) is the centrepiece for the album, clocking in at just over 14 minutes. Half of this track is instrumental, clearly fuelled by Andre Andersen desire to amaze you with his fantastical keyboard acrobatics. With his finely crafted keyboard work, the song is in stature featuring a plethora of samples, female choirs, experimental keyboards, and clear and metallic production - basically everything that is usually thrown into a Royal Hunt track. The song is a welcome addition (as a prequel or a sequel?) to The Mission which was a welcome return to form after a less than exciting (dare I say it, horrifying) Fear.

Moving onto the live section, where we finally have the pleasure to hear John West belting out live RH tunes - albeit 4 tracks only. Two of these appeared on the Intervention EP - "Lies" and "Flight". "Lies" almost touches the 10 minute mark and is wonderfully performed by John. I think everyone is over the fact that DC Cooper is no longer in the band and John performs more than adequately in Royal Hunt. His smooth, rhythmic voice adds a different dimension to previous RH vocalists and he has more rock rhythms that show a different side to the band. On The Watchers, RH cover both Henrik Brockmann ("Epilogue" from Clown In The Mirror) and the so-called sacred DC Cooper sung track "Message To God" from Paradox. And yep, the backing vocalists are still present. All-in-all, an outstanding live performance.

The final part of the album consists of re-recorded Royal Hunt tracks with the current line-up. Tracks such as "One By One" and "Day In Day Out" from Land Of Broken Hearts, as well as the addition of "Clown In The Mirror" and "Legion Of The Damned" from Clown In The Mirror. Considering that the older RH material lacked significantly sound wise, these new versions sound terrific and John's interpretation are perfectly sound. A couple of the numbers have a minute or so added to them due to the extended outros and there are minor changes to song-tempo and the orchestral (keyboards) components are even more prominent in these new recordings. The album concludes with a radio edit of "Intervention" cut down to 6 minutes.

So, I hope you buy this album because it showcases Royal Hunt's multi-dimensional sounds and the album demonstrates all the facets of RH's recent transformations - new material, live material, and re-recorded material. This is a highly enjoyable and highly polished symphonic melodic progressive metal release.

[This review originally appeared November 2002 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]

Intervention / Lies (live) / Flight (live) / Message To God (live) / Epilogue (live) / One By One (new recording) / Clown In The Mirror (new recording) / Day In Day Out (new recording) / Legion Of The Damned (new recording) / Intervention (radio edit)

Andre Andersen - keyboards
Steen Mogensen - bass
John West - vocals
Jacob Kjaer - guitar

Additional Musicians:

Allan Serensen - drums
Maria McTurn - backing vocals
Kenny Lubcke - backing vocals

Land Of The Broken Hearts (1992)
Clown In The Mirror (1993)
The Maxi EP (1993)
Moving Target (1995)
Far Away (ep) (1995)
Live 1996 (1996)
Double Live In Japan (1996)
Paradox (1997)
Closing The Chapter (1998)
Fear (1999)
The Mission (2001)
The Watchers (2002)
Eyewitness (2003)
Paper Blood (2005)
Live 2006 (2006) Paradox II: Collision Course (2008)
X (2010)
Show Me How To Live (2011)
A Life To Die For (2013)
Devil's Dozen (2015)

Live 2006 (DVD) (2006)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin SE

Added: February 20th 2005
Reviewer: Gary Carson
Artist website:
Hits: 959
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]