|John West Long Time...No Sing||Frontiers Records|
The voice of Royal Hunt returns with his forth solo album and second for Frontiers. This album signals a definite and noticeable change of direction for the hard rock singer, both stylistically and also in the way West delivers his vocals. |
This record turned my head for all the wrong reasons to start with. I wasn't sure I liked it at all and it has taken a dozen spins to get a handle on it and slowly it is growing on me. But there is definitely some areas I'm still not sold on.
Gone is the progressive melodic metal feel and gone is the powerhouse vocals that were responsible for making West one of my favourite metal singers. In its place is a more contemporary sounding record – a more modern production style with an updated guitar sound and a simpler somewhat stripped back song structure, with almost no progressive elements present.
While it can be said that this is a more melodic CD, it is not in the traditional sense of the word. Some of the songs are very melodic, but in a more restrained way. The choruses are not immediate at all and require a lot of listening to appreciate.
West's voice is also rather different. It's far bluesier and has a more soulful edge, but in doing that, some of the edge has been removed and I find myself thinking I am listening to Richie Kotzen rather than the voice of Royal Hunt.
I have very mixed feelings about this CD. While it isn't in a style that I prefer, you cannot deny that everything West does is done with class. The sound quality here is amazing - the production is slick and in your face and the musicianship within is the best it could possibly be.
And it's almost unexplainable, but the record has a certain intensity that draws you in. Once you get to know the tracks, there are some definite highlights.
Best of the album for me is the dark and heavy opening track Fade, the similarly dark Over My Head and the soulful Falling Down. The mid-tempo commercial rocker Set Me Free is good also, with Lonnie Park's keyboard parts really giving the song depth.
Give Me A Sign is another twist, drawing on a 70s classic rock vibe.
As the CD progresses the songs become more laid back and the choruses appear even less obvious, so you really must give this album time to develop. The star performer on this record is really the guitar playing rather than the vocals. I found myself on several occasions really getting into the musical base, before warming to the vocal style.
At times there is a definite lack of John's big booming voice, but it is replaced here by a more laid back, soulful and almost alternative style vocal.
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