Reviews from December/99


Royal Hunt / Fear / SPV 085-21572


Royal Hunt - Fear For a couple of years ago Royal Hunt was "Prügelknabe" in danish newspapers - no one thought that this band with the very non-scandinavian attitude in both personal and musical direction would have a chance in foreign countries. They had skipped their original danish singer in favour of D.C. Cooper with the very very very american attitude, and many saw this as an absolute crime of passion. But after records like "Moving Target" ('95), "Paradox" ('97) and succes in Japan I guess the doubt of Royal Hunt as a serious act is vanished.
Now they are back after the sacking of D.C. Cooper and no one less than John West (Badlands, Artension, Malmsteen)  could fill out his shoes. What D.C. had in showmanship Mr. West has in singing - I was absolutely blown away by his powerfull and strong voice. It really suits the bombastic, dramatic and high tensed arrangements of keyboard-virtuos André Andersen - just like Ian Gillan suits Deep Purple or Robert Plant suits Led Zeppelin.
This time the bands main-man André has taken fully control and have produces this 50 minutes long epic effort with a little help from Lars Overgaard (D.A.D) and Jan Eliasson (Skagarack, Aces High) in the mixing and mastering. "Fear" allows the musical ideas to breath, and espescially guitarist Jacob Kjær get some air, and there is are slow passages as well as straight-forward heavy on this release, all genres played with authority and style - and not splashed by keyboards on every occasion.
Outstanding tracks are: The over 9 minutes long titletrack, "Lies" with the straight forward attitude of the mid 80's and the very beautiful "Follow me".
For those who once doubted the qualities of this Danish-american outfit, they may now speak or forever hold their tonques!!


Jaded Heart / IV / MTM 0681-04


Jaded Heart - IV Jaded Heart is at one time very German - and then again, they are very international. On this their fourth effort vocalist Michael Bormann and Co. is a step further than their previous works. The album starts off with a very pompy symphonic track "Live and let die" with a very large children-choir intro - a very catchy tune too!! Jaded once won a cover-contest on the German TV-station RTL with a version of Bon Jovi's "Wanted dead or alive" and on this one they have two covers included. First one is a very powerful edition of the Rainbow classic "Stonecold" - and from time to time Michael Bormann reminds me of a young Joe Lynn Turner - good choice. No wonder that he replaced Claus Lessmann in Bonfire for a short while.
The other cover is a bit more strange - because I never would have thought that a hardrock band could cover Phil Collins! But never the less Jaded Heart kickstarts "Easy lover" into a a very cool track.
The album lasts over 60 minutes and covers a large spectre of genres and moods - from pomp to ballads "Way back Home", and from emotion to plain and "simple" hardrock, but all track are very well played by competent players Michael Müller (bass), Axel Kruse (drums), Chris Ivo (keyboards) and Barish Kepic (guitars) and very good produced by Axe-frontman Bobby Barth in the NEH studios in Denver Colorado. And this gives this release a very international sound and gives it a bit more air than Partners in crime Axxis, Heavens Gate and other german bands in the same genre.
My favorite track is "When you hear the Thunder" - a very complex song that combines all the positive qualities in Jaded Heart, large production, a cathy guitar hook, exceptional vocals, outstanding guitarwork and an african/arabic influenced outro - one the best releases this year. I hope the band come a bit further in popularity this time, the Japs has already seen their qualities - now it's your turn.  



A.C.T / Today's Report / MTM 0681-02


A.C.T - Today's report Imagine a mix of Dream Theatre, Saga and Pendragon. If you can - you might like this young swedish outfit. They are young with all the + and - it gives. On the positive side they have a lot of ideas and joy by playing, you can actually hear that they like to do experiments and challenge all genres like jazz, salza, heavy and progressive. All tracks well produced an performed by A.C.T. At their best a track like "Personalities" with it's 7 sub-tracks could be compared with Pink Floyd - with a dominating keyboard, a high pitched voice and bass/drum-extravaganza.
On the negative side it's very difficult for me to cope all these ideas in so little space - a track like "Waltz with Mother Nature" is such a track - 1000 of musical ideas in less than 13 minutes.
I think the guys in Saga made a big mistake by letting these guys down - they were meant to be opening act for the Canadian masters on several concerts but..  Because I really think these 5 guys from Västerås in Sweden will get their act (laugh, laugh) together in the next couple of years, and then we can talk ....