After two disappointing studio albums following the departure of singer extraordinaire D.C. Cooper, the Danish progressive-metal band Royal Hunt has made a record worthy of its glorious past. Eye Witness, a loosely structured concept album about the media's omnipresence, rocks with a vengeance, equally blending the keyboard class of Andre Andersen and the power-chord bravado of guitarist Jacob Kjaer.
Sound effects — babies crying, feet stepping, televisions blaring, jets soaring — precede many of the 10 tracks here, recalling another impressive concept album: Queensryche's Operation: Mindcrime. Singer John West, who up until this point has lacked both Cooper's range and charisma, sings more fervently than he has since the release of Royal Hunt's first post-Cooper album, 1999's Fear. His newfound strength and conviction sounds particularly powerful on "Hunted," "Burning the Sun," "Game of Fear" and the title track. On the latter two songs, he even belts out some screams worthy of Rob Halford in his prime. And "Edge of the World" and "Help Us God" both recapture the melodic power that characterized such earlier Royal Hunt albums as Paradox and Moving Target.
Royal Hunt may finally be getting its second wind. It's about time.