Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Royal Blood Extends Reign Over Rock

Royal Blood
After the wildly successful 4-track Out Of The Black EP last March, Royal Blood was already primed for a sensational self-titled debut. But now, even better than being primed, the band lets it all loose.

The self-titled album Royal Blood adds seven more tracks to the original outing of four, with only the primitive and bluesy track Hole left out. Now the two-piece band from Brighton fires up a sound that is greater than the sum of its parts. 

Michael (Mike) Kerr and Ben Thatcher rip away with heavy riffs, gritty grooves, and tenacious drum work. And no, it doesn't hurt that Kerr can wake up the neighborhood by playing bass like it's a six string.

Royal Blood is the real deal from Brighton.

Signature tracks like the big and meaty Out Of The Black, an unrequited love story tucked inside Little Monster, and grit and dirt of Come On Over remain standouts on the album. But along with all three of these beastly numbers, Royal Blood manages to bang out several more. 

Figure It Out takes on a much more classic rock sound. More than any other track on the album, it makes a convincing case that the Royal Blood is one part Jack White and one part Joshua Homme, with a splash of The Black Keys. It's a perfect libation for anyone who likes sweaty and relentless rock. 

Figure It Out easily takes its place along the EP rockers, except it breaks from the heart just a bit and aims a little higher. The explosive song can be easily be considered a coming of age track, hard lessons learned and then reluctant acceptance. Sure, it's still tied to relationships, but there could also be a broader meaning here. 

As for the rest of the album, the White-Homme-Keys comparisons don't hold up nearly as much. The balance of the tracks add more whomp and soul to their blues-rock than the bands to which they are most often compared. There is something originally massive about the band, which is why some reviewers see them at the forefront of a Brit rock revival. 

For every classic rocker like You Can Be So Cruel, Royal Blood couples it with something more beat-driven and soulful like Loose Change. It's harder to like the latter, but the overall theme is still intact. These long-time friends have a knack for new sounds without overdubs and studio polish. 

Some of the real winners being heard for the first time on this album include the deliciously mournful Blood Hands and the chug-friendly complainer Better Strangers. But even on tracks like Ten Tonne Skeleton and Careless that don't capitalize on the winning instrumental drone of Kerr and Thatcher, Royal Blood used those numbers to bust up any predicability on the album. Both songs also (Careless especially) have sections within that soar over an already high bar.

The Self-Titled Debut By Royal Blood Blisters 8.1 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

Although Royal Blood originally came together in 2012, their debut still marks them as one to watch. Hands down, they are one of the best breakout bands this year. And if you aren't sure why at first, give some of the strongest tracks a listen again for what can only be described a smoky ruthlessness. 

Royal Blood can be found on Amazon. The self-titled album can be downloaded from iTunes. The vinyl edition of Royal Blood is available at Barnes & Noble. For touring information, check them out on Facebook. On the quick, they are currently completing a tour in the United States before crossing into Canada in October. By November, the band will be booked up in France before taking on the rest of Europe.
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