The news that DC Cooper had left ROYAL HUNT, were not at all a good one. Especially because to that point their albums grew to be among my favorites and it was almost impossible for me to imagine this band without the voice of DC Cooper, but if so, then not on the same level. But this album came to prove me wrong.
I have already known the new vocalist, John West, having heard him perform on the ARTENSION records, but I could (would) not imagine how the band would be like with him on the vocals. Then yet again I had the honor to do so. And we shall not forget that besides John West, there was a new face behind the drums as well: Allen Sorensen.
The opener “Fear” has already got me from the start and is still one of my favorite tracks from the album. Starts with a short spoken intro and after that it really begins, with John singing a few lines and then lets the instruments warm up. Which also allows us to register that there is no change whatsoever in the sound-department, everything is ok: the production is top notch, as we have been used to with ROYAL HUNT, just listen to that bass guitar, it captured me on the spot! Just like John’s voice already got me after the first track. After “Fear” all my fears have been hushed, fearing that the album won’t be that good. If this seamless transition is due to the fact that Andre Andersen is in charge of the music and the lyrics, not forgetting the magical keyboard tunes, doesn’t seem so important to me. What is important and matters is the fact that the band kept on playing on the same high level, as they did on the previous records.
With “Faces Of War” they deliver another ROYAL HUNT hammer, which is so typical for the band: heavy, ultra-melodic, with great and catchy choruses, inspired instrumentation, enclosing some really remarkable vocal lines from John. I don’t really think that there are too many affinities between the timbres of West and Cooper, one can really easily recognize one or the other. Just stating this, cause I remember having read the opposite somewhere. “Cold City Lights” is somewhat simpler knitted, but a great piece of melodic Metal, where – how could it be different - the acoustic design is being dominated by the keyboard. With “Lies” things get heavier and I really don’t know which musician I should praise, cause all of them are doing a great job indeed and that goes for the whole album. “Follow Me” offers you some calmer moments and this really nice ballad is the last test John had to pass. For me it was by then beyond all doubt that he would stand his ground with this band.
What else could be added? For me this album is among the best ROYAL HUNT have released. John West delivered a praiseworthy performance on his debut, which he would repeat both live and in the studio later on as well. I can only recommend it, the rest is up to you! Enjoy!
(Online December 15, 2006)