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|ROYAL THUNDER - CROOKED DOORS (2015) ALBUM REVIEW|| |
ROYAL THUNDER - CROOKED DOORS (2015)
RELAPSE RECORDS -- RUNNING TIME - 59:14
Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia is four-piece rock band, Royal Thunder. Formed in 2004 by guitarist Josh Weaver, the band went through several line-up changes whilst releasing two EP’s [2010’s “Royal Thunder” and 2013’s “CVI-A”] and a debut album [2012’s “CVI”].
The band has now settled with the current line-up of Mlny Parsonz [Vocals/Bass], Will Fiore [Guitar], and Evan Diprima [Drums] joining Josh and playing what has been described as “timeless elements of heavy classic rock, 90’s grunge, and forward thinking progressive rock” [Relapse Records].
In April 2015 Royal Thunder released highly anticipated second album “Crooked Doors”. The album was released via Relapse Records and has been recommended for fans of Baroness, Mastodon, Monster Magnet, Red Fang, and Torche.
I must admit that, having liked debut album “CVI”, it was an honour to be asked to write a review of “Crooked Doors” as my debut piece for Brutiful Entertainment. So, without further hesitation, I shall begin …
The album runs for 59 minutes and 14 seconds, which is divided between 11 tracks. Album opener, “Time Machine”, is a monster, clocking in at 7 minutes and 8 seconds. It begins with a nice rhythm and guitar-play before Mlny’s vocals come in around 33 seconds. Her vocals are beautiful to say the least. Her talents are immediately obvious as she grabs your attention and keeps you hooked. The musicianship is superb, with the band playing confidently and consistently. Each member keeps to a main rhythm throughout, yet drift into varying styles/tempos/pace as well. The guitar-play of Josh and Will is excellent, with some great solos between 5:06-5:56. I find myself closing my eyes and drifting to another place as the music reverberates through my ears … Yet, with further listens, I’m also finding myself gazing at the cover artwork for endless amounts of time, my imagination running wild. It’s fair to say that I absolutely love this track … What a brilliant way to open this album!
Equally good guitar-play, drumming, and bass lines from Josh, Will, Evan, and Mlny respectively introduces you to “Forget You” before settling into a nice chugging rhythm that urges you to nod your head. After 41 seconds those rather mesmerizing vocals of Mlny come in, acting as the catalyst for terrific riffs to start hammering in your ears … Oh man do I like this! It’s slow paced, but immediately gets you nodding harder, putting a strain on your neck. Again, the musicianship is first-class, with good rhythm and consistency. The high vocal ranges reached by Mlny are spine-tingling. It’s another awesome track, and I’m loving every second of it. I hope this excellence continues.
I’m not disappointed as lovely melodic vocals from Mlny and equally melodic guitar-play from Josh and Will launch you into the opening sequences of “Wake Up”. Together with the tight rhythm section of Mlny and Evan, the band play through this track’s 3:51 length of rhythmic beauty with a slight progressive rock feel before another change signals the beginning of “Floor” with its brilliant, foot-tapping beat and rhythm. That impressive rhythm section drives this number forward with everything working like a well-oiled machine. It’s catchy and melodic, with a brilliant guitar solo during the second half. This track has an ability to remain in your mind for some time afterwards and, once again, Mlny’s vocals are wonderful.
Fuzzy/static noise opens “The Line” before Mlny’s impressive bass-play starts. After 23 seconds she follows with her vocals and is joined by Evan’s drums and riffs from Josh and Will, thus kicking things off “proper”. This track has a great pace throughout, with excellently placed time/tempo changes. Royal Thunder keep you hooked and those guitar solos are awesome. Following this is “Forgive Me, Karma” with its catchy, rhythmic main riffs, yet with a slower/ballad-type feel to it. Again, it consists of that signature guitar sound that remains in your head for days afterwards.
Terrific rhythm and grooves launch you straight into “Glow”, which gets even better when Mlny’s vocals join in after 34 seconds and the band settle into a brilliant rocking rhythm. The pace throughout is superb, keeping you hooked with such excellent musicianship. Things build to a crescendo towards the end before coming to a calming stop. I await during this section with my breath held, before releasing and relaxing at the point when the music playing calms down … I let out a gratifying breath and await to see what lies in store for me next.
I’m not disappointed as “Ear On The Fool” begins with some really catchy drum playing and guitars. This track has a rhythm that is quick paced with a nice melody to it. Mlny’s vocals are exactly what I’ve come to expect from such a talented singer … Excellent! For some reason, the nature of Evan’s drum playing really stands out for me throughout this track as well … Great stuff! The truly epic “One Day” comes next with its rather folky beginning before Evan’s drums announce themselves after 38 seconds. Everything you hear throughout this track is amazing, beautiful, and mesmerizing – with the high-pitched vocals during the second half sending shivers down your spine.
Penultimate track on this fine album is “The Bear” with its slow moving, soulful blues feel. It’s not heavy at all, but shows a completely different side to this talented foursome. After 2 minutes and 19 seconds, some keyboards introduce “The Bear II”, instantly getting your attention. After 45 seconds, Mlny’s vocals enter as the band work through this slow moving, yet gripping number. It’s a very ballad-type track that is both spine-tingling and beautiful. Honestly, I don’t have enough words in my vocabulary to describe what I’m listening to. The song fades out towards the end, leaving you breathless, but for different reasons.
I have to admit that, at first listen, I didn’t know where to start or how I felt about this album. Some might say that I suffered a little writer’s block. Yet, with each listen thereafter, it became apparent just how good this album is and how talented the musicians who made it are. Subsequently, the words began to flow. I grew more excited to hear the music again and again … It isn’t just an album of eleven tracks … It’s a wonderful piece of art.
Alongside Royal Thunder’s signature sound there are elements of Classic Rock, Psychedelia, Folk, Blues, and Progressive Rock. All mixed together to make an absolute gem of an album. I’m a metalhead at heart, but I absolutely love the music this band make. There isn’t a dull moment on this album.
With “Crooked Doors”, Royal Thunder have made an album that is an essential purchase for any music lover. Whether you’re into Heavy Metal or not, you need this album in your collection.
Review written exclusively for Brutiful Entertainment by Chris Palmer:
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