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Released: 1999, Rondel Records
Ok. I know this is a 1999 release but I just got my hands on it. Progressive metal has never been my cup of tea outside of some Dream Theater but lately I have been getting a bit more interested in the genre. I happened across a copy of Royal Hunt’s last CD entitled "Paradox". It was a good album so I figured I would give "Fear" a chance. In the time between the last CD and Fear Royal Hunt have changed vocalists. Out is D.C. Cooper, who has went on to release a solo CD and is currently the voice of "Silent Force" and in is former Artesion/Cozy Powell/Badlands vocalist John West. Besides the aforementioned bands West has also released 2 solo CDs and appeared on numerous other discs. Being a fan of D.C. Cooper I was kind of apprehensive of how West would interact with the band. I should have known better. West is a great vocalist and fits the band perfectly. Its hard to tell that Cooper is even gone. The main man behind Royal Hunt is keyboard player Andre Andersen. Not only did he write all the songs on the disc but he also produced it. The rest of the band is rounded out by Allan Sorensen on drums, Steen Mogensen : bass and Jacob Kjaer on guitar.
Fear comprises 7 songs which clock in at just under 50 minutes. Only 7 songs and not one is less than 5 minutes with the average being around 7 minutes. The CD kicks off with the almost 10 minute title track. This track contains many intricate keyboard passages and stays mid tempo and below throughout the whole song. On this track West shows that he can easily step into Cooper’s shoes. "Faces of War" is up next. This is a keyboard and double bass drum laden track which clocks in at around the 7 minute mark. One of the better songs on the disc is "Cold City Nights". This is a more up tempo track with a great chorus. It is also on of the shortest songs on the Cd at 5:23. Kjaer adds a great solo to this song while West shows a more bluesy side as well as hitting the high notes. Andersen’s keyboards are always complimentary to the song even though they are up front on every tune. The semi ballad "Follow Me" again showcases the vocal abilities of West and the great songwriting of Andersen. The CD finishes with the dramatic "Sea of Time" which highlights the keyboard playing of Andersen.
Royal Hunt’s music just drips with melody. Andre Andersen weaves his keyboards amongst each tune and makes it the perfect compliment to the other instruments. The arrangements take advantage of all the instruments to create catchy tunes that retain their progressive tag without becoming overbearing with instrumental gymnastics. A few of the songs could be a wee bit shorter but they never become tedious and often seem like only 4 minute songs. Fear is a great CD. Lets just hope that Andre Andersen can hang onto John West.
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