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Released: 2002, InsideOut Music
I’m telling ya right off the bat I changed the grade on this CD 3 times. At first it was an automatic “4”, because I’m a big Royal Hunt fan, not huge/diehard but big. But then I thought, well don’t get all fanboyish, It’s just an extended EP, not a new studio CD so I cranked it down to a “3” based on that it would be for serious fans only. But after seriously analyzing this puppy I put it back up to a perhaps generous 4, then back to a 3.5. Here’s why.
THE WATCHERS is a 10 track EP, and I use the term EP, lightly. Royal Hunt has always suffered from a very confusing discography with numerous EP’s, Live CD’s international licensing deals, bonus discs, Japan only stuff…it is an ugly discography from a historical point of view! This one just adds to the mix. It clocks in at a very generous 69 minutes, which is not surprising because RH have always provided very good value. The band has always been very prolific. There are 10 tracks. 4 live cuts, 4 re-recorded versions with new vocalist John West and the full 14 minute version of “Intervention” as well as a 6 minute radio friendly edit. Cool! Lots of unreleased material!
The live tracks kick ass they really are heavier live, and I was pleased to see my favorite track from FEAR, the song “Lies” done live. The new versions are very cool, but I’m torn. I like D.C. Cooper and I like John West, they are both great singer and each brings a little flair to the song. I supposed you would have to really sit down quietly and listen to each track back-to-back (original version then new version) to really pick out the subtle nuances. I’m guessing only the most die-hard fans who know the original versions off by heart note for note will be able to instantly tell the difference. To be honest, I wasn’t able to but going back and comparing is half the fun. Musically the whole thing is a little heavier than the last studio CD because of the older material being the bulk of this comp. The center-price being the aforementioned “Intervention” is progressive metal extraordinaire and helps solidify RH’s reputation as a leader in the field.
The band is lookin’ a bit freaky on the back, kinda Manson’d out, with makeup and all but don’t worry the music is the classic stuff you have come to expect. The cover is a bit weak I thought, one of those super smooth computer-generated dudes with virtually no surface features. The title makes me think of the big, bald outer-space dude from Marvel comics in the 80’s who was also called The Watcher. Those are minor points, it’s the music that counts!
Overall…die-hards, get it. People curious about the band; get it. Everyone else I might recommend picking up one of the full length studio CD’s instead.
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