Monday, March 20, 2017

Royal Thunder : "WICK"

I really loved "Crooked Doors" I wore it out. This means the bar is held pretty high here. So I was uncertain of the slow droning riff that accompanies the more circular chant of the first song. They don't come out swinging like they did on the previous album. I went back and gave this song another listen after hearing the entire album, and it made a little more sense , but didn't really grab me. The snarl Parsonz summons on "April Showers" sounds almost like Blackie Lawless. This song snakes around but drones less than the opener and has more balls to it. She has a greater grit to her voice on this album for sure, but they have really backed off on the distorted when it comes to the guitars. Sure there is almost an "Amorica" like soul to "Tired". The only problem is they are not the Black Crowes. While she tries some interesting things with harmonies and less rock-centric melodies, it is not as focused as the previous albums. By the time we get "We Slipped" which is pretty uptempo, you might as well resign yourself that the metal trapping that gave intensity to other albums has been shed. The rock jangle is going to be hard pressed to grow on me in the same way the last album did.

 There is a more Led Zeppelin boogie to "the Sinking Chair". This is much closer to what I want from these guys. The distortion could have been more amped and taken the chugged section to a heavier place so this is production choice. She lets her voice go into more of harsher metal scream at some points, though this song is more of a mid seventies vision of metal that what metal is by today's standards. The very stripped down "Plans" marries a starker version of Janis Joplin to the Black Crowes. I like this one more than I thought I would when it started. Her soulful vocals really sell it. There is much more piano on this album than I remember them using in the past. I also have a much harder time envisioning how these songs would translate live than I do with their other work.

"Anchor" works for me right of the bat. It's not metal but has rambling moodiness that connects with me and feels more powerful. The vocals and guitar work together much seamlessly than what happens on some of the other songs. The atmosphere and the brooding that drives the title track both immediately work for me. It does kick into a harder rock direction. The shadows that color the mood are obviously of importance to me. There is a more stripped down intro to "Push" than what the song ambles into which feels more like a lost Jeff Buckley track. The vocal performance really sells this song. While it rocks more and moves pretty fluidly it seems like "Turnaround" is one of those songs that is going to need to grow on me.

The hypnotic winding western tinged riffs that these guys do so well are invoked on "the Well" . The doing go to the obvious big rock chorus off the back and build tension. There are metal influences under the surface but I would not say this is a metal album. By the album's third act it becomes obvious they have remembered who they are and what they should be doing. The album comes to a close with 'We Never Fell Asleep". There is a dagger like quality to how the lyrics are spit out on this one and they gain some punch as the song progresses.   Overall this one shows the band growing away from who they where and that takes some adjustment if you are invested in their old sound, but I'll around this one up to a 9.5.
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