By Andrew Bansal
Based out of Atlanta, Georgia, Royal Thunder has been a band that has captivated listeners with every release of theirs, and in their relatively young 12-year career thus far, have only gone from strength to strength, all the while broadening their creative horizons. Their 2010 self-titled debut EP came across as straight-up doom metal with bluesy tendencies, the first LP ‘CVI’ (2012) was decidedly more classic hard rock inspired, and the 2014 follow-up ‘Crooked Doors’ explored the band’s melodic elements. In 2017, they have released ‘Wick’, a blend of all the above and much more.
It can be said with certainty that Royal Thunder never stagnates in its collective songwriting and so far has not written the same record twice. That progression continues with ‘Wick’. For this record, the band has seemingly delved deep into their sensibilities and channeled their inner struggles, both musical and personal, to create this dark, brooding, intense 54-minute, 12-track offering that envelopes you like a thick cloud of fog that never quite dissipates. Guitarist Josh Weaver is the originator of the creative force that is Royal Thunder, and his powerful riffs and melodies form the core of every song. He has come up with some beautiful ideas and arrangements for this album, as evident straightaway from the opening track ‘Burning Tree’. The distinct, instantly recognizable singing voice of vocalist/bassist Mlny Parsonz is the other striking feature of this band, and she decorates Weaver’s guitar work in a manner only she can. As the vocals kick in on this opening track, you are pulled rapidly into an abyss where you remain for the rest of the album.
After the masterful opening tune, the second track ‘April Showers’ is a slow, tense creation that builds up its intensity all the time and has a push-pull/call-response approach that keeps you on edge. ‘Tied’ is an absolute gem of a song that engages and compels right from its outset as a richly layered combination of vocals and all instruments hits you strong, and the song takes on a life of its own past its mid-point transition, the guitar breathing fully with a splendid assortment of melodies and solos. ‘We Slipped’ is truly one of the finest offerings presented on ‘Wick’, with an extremely catchy verses and chorus that will surely occupy minds for all eternity. But this album only gets better as it moves along, which only validates and vindicates the order in which these tracks have been presented for consumption.
‘The Sinking Chair’ is a song on which Josh Weaver’s guitar work shines the most, but the role of Will Fiore on the second guitar, Evan Diprima on drums, and Parsonz herself on bass cannot be undermined, throughout the album but particularly on this track. Even though other songs were chosen as “singles” to represent and promote the album pre-release, ‘The Sinking Chair’ has it all to become a favorite among listeners, a song that by itself has the power to convert first-timers into fans.
Ballad-like tendencies take over on ‘Plans’, and this is where Parsonz showcases her vocal abilities which really do put her on a pedestal far above and beyond most other contemporary rock and metal vocalists. Her singing is at a level that can be admired and recognized by music listeners of all tastes, not just heavy music, and this is also one of the main qualities that set Royal Thunder apart from the rest.
This album excels in quantity as well as quality, as ‘Anchor’ is a spine-chillingly brilliant and powerful composition through which this band fully expresses itself, whereas the title track is another intense, introspective number built on a captivating push-and-pull structure. ‘Push’ is possibly the darkest, most melancholic track on offer here, and perhaps unlike the previous two full-length releases which slightly fell away as they drew to their close, ‘Wick’ ends as strong as it begins, with the final three tunes ‘Turnaround’, ‘The Well’ and ‘We Never Fell Asleep’ maintaining the creative quality benchmark set by all the preceding tracks.
Sonically, ‘Wick’ comes across exactly as it should, rich and crystal clear in all layers, which speaks volumes (literally) for the excellence of the production and mixing. Creatively, Royal Thunder has struck gold with ‘Wick’. Whatever they went through in their personal lives before or during the songwriting phase, it has led them to this masterpiece, an album that they themselves may never be able (or want) to repeat. Each member’s performance in the recording studio also justifiably captures and portrays the expression behind every one of these songs.
It is debatable whether or not Royal Thunder is a metal band, and if Metal Archives is anything to go by, they’re not, but their expansion into non-metal elements has not (yet) alienated them from fans of metal, as Royal Thunder is still a metal band at heart and it is evident in their newest creation. ‘Wick’ is, in every sense, a fantastic slab of dark, heavy musical expression that only gets more powerful with every repeat listen, and has it all to compel and fascinate metalheads and non-metalheads alike.
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Record Label: Spinefarm
Release Date: April 7th 2017
01. Burning Tree (5:04)
02. April Showers (5:12)
03. Tied (4:00)
04. We Slipped (5:01)
05. The Sinking Chair (3:54)
06. Plans (3:53)
07. Anchor (4:38)
08. Wick (5:07)
09. Push (4:38)
10. Turnaround (3:21)
11. The Well (4:32)
12. We Never Fell Asleep (5:10)
Total Duration: 54:30