Review Summary: Glass Cloud's debut is both aggressive and consistent; that balance could make all the difference in today's scene.
Supergroups have been given a bad connotation as of late, mostly due to the fact that they can't quite seem to top the hype (ahem, Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows). The hype train can only ride for so long, though; at some point, it's up to the musicians to deliver. The Royal Thousand is an impressive debut, and a surprising one at that. Jerry Roush (ex-Sky Eats Airplane) takes the lead with his gritty vocals, and Joshua Travis (The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza) provides hard-hitting, dynamic riffs. When all of that is combined with two Berklee graduates, some low-tuned, eight string guitars, and intricate songwriting, you have Glass Cloud.
Lead single, "White Flag," demonstrates the sound Glass Cloud is going for. The verses are full of melody, oftentimes featuring guitar noodling, and the vocals are thunderous. Jerry Roush masterfully switches from his harsh vocals to smooth singing at a moments notice, mostly during verses. When Glass Cloud gets heavy, and the chugging begins, the songwriting takes an interesting turn. At first glance, Glass Cloud can be considered just another groove-metal (I refuse to use that godforsaken 'djent' word on this site) band, but they are truly at their best when they are rhythmically heavy. The palm-muted guitars create a layer of complexity to The Royal Thousand, pulled off with more expertise than your average metal band. The latter half of "White Flag" erupts into a skillful breakdown, laced together with great vocal delivery from Roush. The drumming all over this record is spot on, perfectly punctuating the guitar chugs, and setting the proper pace for the band at all times.
"Ivy and Wine" just might be the best song on the album, beginning with a lone guitar riff, and transitioning into an onslaught of catchy heaviness. However, The Royal Thousand delivers, not just because of the heaviness, but because of the diversity. Although they are not necessarily experimental, Glass Cloud offers nuances of diversity in their songwriting. The best example of this is "If He Dies, He Dies," which draws the listener in with a thirty second instrumental introduction, composed of a melodious, clean guitar line. Within a minute, the song has transformed into chaos, complete with a fast, sliding guitar riff. This kind of unpredictable songwriting stands out, and makes for an enjoyable listening experience. "Memorandum" begins with a minute-long instrumental section, and provides space for the song to build. Starting from a unique, but simple drum beat, the song takes interesting turns, reassuring listeners that Glass Cloud is not lacking in the songwriting department.
"All Along" has a different tone from the rest of the album, featuring a catchy verse riff, and well placed screams. Follow up track, "She Is Well and Nothing Can Be Ill," contains the best breakdown section of the album at the end, putting the rhythmic ability of the entire band on full display. Closer, "From May to Now," is the closest thing to a dud on the album, failing to match the pace of the previous nine tracks.
Metalcore may be a generic genre of music, but as previously stated, it is all a matter of consistency. The Royal Thousand will hold your attention, and that is due to talent, creativity, and enthusiastic songwriting. Glass Cloud hardly breaks the traditional metalcore mold, and if this album proves anything, it's that you don't necessarily have to. The Royal Thousand is sure to be slept on, perhaps even ignored. Although, upon listening, you just might surprise yourself with how fast you will find that replay button.