Album Review: Royal Thunder – CVI [9.5 out of 10]

By Aniruddh “Andrew” Bansal

Based out of Atlanta, Georgia, Royal Thunder is a four-piece that plays blues-infused rock. They started out in 2007, released their self-titled debut EP on their own in 2010, and have been an actively touring band throughout the five years of their career so far. With the captivating style of music they showcased on the debut EP, it wasn’t long before they started garnering praise and admiration from all over the place. Subsequently, they signed to Relapse Records, and with some solid touring experience under their belts, they are now ready to release their debut full-length album “CVI”, which comes out on May 22nd and is already available for pre-order. Even though the self-titled EP created a great first impression and was an amazing piece of music in itself, I think “CVI” brings forth an even better effort from the band, and sees them take a giant leap in their musical journey.

The album includes only one track from the aforementioned EP, and besides that one tune “Sleeping Witch”, everything on here is brand new and previously unreleased. While I would broadly describe the music on the EP as bluesy doom metal with an early-Sabbathesque sound, I feel that the full-length sees the band expand their musical style quite a bit. Still retaining some of the doom tendencies that made the EP as great as it proved to be, “CVI” displays a much wider spectrum of musical styles and elements. The music definitely sounds richer and has a harder edge to it, but at the same time Mlny Parsonz’ incredible vocals give it a hazy, psychedelic and soulful touch.

Ranging from powerful melodies to haunting whispers, the frontwoman really does it all on this album. Her vocals gel perfectly not only with her own instrument i.e. the bass, but with her band mates as well. This is evident right from the get go, and as a result, the opening track “Parsonz Curse” drew me into listening to the entire album. The interplay between the vocals and guitar riffs is perhaps the most outstanding feature of the music on “CVI”, keeping the listener completely hooked. Besides, some terrific guitar solos on tunes like “Whispering World”, “Shake And Shift”, “Blue” among a few others give the music great depth and justify the 63-minute duration for this 10-track album.

Also justified is the inclusion of “Sleeping Witch”, as it links the band’s debut EP to this release, thus further putting their musical progress into perspective. But in addition to that, its position as track #6 also makes it the bridge between the album’s top and bottom halves, two markedly different sets of tunes. The last four tunes of the album, although interspersed with heavy riffs, largely show the softer, darker side of the band, both in terms of the vocals and the music itself. The band makes full use of the slowness of these tracks to express themselves with a plethora of diverse sounds that give this album a spectacular finish.

When I come across comparisons made between Royal Thunder and the likes of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath in press quotes, it’s not a surprise to me, and certainly not a glorified overstatement of the band’s prowess. When I listen to Zeppelin and Sabbath’s music, I enjoy it for the purity and emotion it puts forth, and I find the very same traits in Royal Thunder’s music. That’s only my opinion, and whether or not they are comparable to these legends is indeed arguable. But what’s perhaps not arguable is the fact that the band revisits the glory days of the 70s when it comes to their musical approach and songwriting style, a style that has resulted in the creation of the masterpiece that is “CVI”.

A few days ago, I called Philm’s “Harmonic” as the best debut album I’ve heard in a long time, and now I can safely put Royal Thunder’s “CVI” in the same category. A phenomenal effort from one of the most complete rock bands I’ve ever come across, this album is strongly recommended to all fans of hard rock and heavy metal.

Rating: 9.5/10
[Click here to order the album via Amazon]

Record Label: Relapse
Release Date: May 22nd 2012

Track Listing:
1.  Parsonz Curse
2.  Whispering World
3.  Shake and Shift
4.  No Good
5.  Blue
6.  Sleeping Witch
7.  South of Somewhere
8.  Drown
9.  Minus
10.  Black Water Vision