Review Summary: In their debut EP, Royal Thunder are letting their bluesy heavy rock demons loose.
In the second mid of the 00’s, a 70’s heavy rock revival became increasingly noticeable with the ranks of the underground. This revival consisted of bands originating from the entire globe, with countries like Sweden leading the way, in terms of both quantity and quality. During the time that these lines are being written, some of them – Witchcraft, Graveyard and the veterans Pentagram to name a few – are (re-)emerging to the surface, signing with the major labels, as the latter estimated that the scene’s magnitude marginally increased beyond its critical mass. A significant portion of bands within this revival scheme shares two common characteristics. The one has to do with the lyrical content, related with the praise of the occult. The other has to do with the presence of a female apprentice of Lilith, fronting each band with her mesmerizing vocal performance. In terms of namedropping, bands like The Devil’s Blood, Blood Ceremony or Jex Thoth, file exactly under the previously mentioned characteristics. The debut/eponymous EP from Royal Thunder, although it is quite different as a release altogether, builds further on the portion of the 70’s occult heavy rock revival, that is related to the two aforementioned characteristics. Released in 2009, the EP went heavily unnoticed at first, until the mighty Relapse Records label discovered the band and re-issued its work at the dusk of 2010.
Royal Thunder come as a power trio. That means by default that the band is tight as hell, while the song arrangements obey the “less is more” rule. The guitars of Josh Weaver attain the required substance needed to make things interesting, strictly within the relatively fair diversity of the genre. They move in between mid-paced doom rock within the vein of the Black Sabbath/Pentagram dipole, decorated with slow and gloomy psych/garage/blues melodies. The intensity of the rhythm section fluctuates correspondingly within superbly drummed heavy rock raids and mid or slow paced rhythms. The haunting vocals of bassist Mlny Parsonz reign above all instruments. Parzonz’s vocals further enrich the great tradition of contemporary 70’s heavy/doom rock bands, like The Devil’s Blood or Blood Ceremony. Her singing is influenced directly from the blues, with dependable but fully tamed vibrato capabilities. In the choruses, her voice remains female but becomes attractively rough and strong, somewhat reminding of Bonnie Tyler. In addition, she crafts mesmerizing lead vocal interludes and places them either on the chorus or at the end of certain songs, making them ever more memorable. As a whole, her vocals give the impression that she has just recovered from last night’s booze and smoke just to sing for tonight’s show.
The sound production is subdued to the corresponding guidelines of the genre the band is serving. All instruments are audible, while the sound feels as organic as possible. The overall attitude of the band, while it adds merely nothing new to heavy rock, as it was conceived in the 70’s, is proficient with respect to the work of icon bands like Girlschool, Black Sabbath or Pentagram. All songs are memorable, while they feel like they could be easily
be featured in a Quentin Tarantino movie soundtrack like Death Proof, for example.
Closing up, the eponymous EP from Royal Thunder is a worthy addition in the contemporary 70’s rock revival. Its sole flaw rests in that it doesn’t have more songs to further strengthen the band’s convictions. However, Royal Thunder have a bright future ahead of them, especially now that they lie under the wings of Relapse Records. A future full-length release from them is strongly anticipated.