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Review: Royal Thunder – ‘Wick’

‘Wick’ is the latest album from Atlanta natives Royal Thunder. It’s their first for Spinefarm Records, and I’ll bet my left nut that come December this year, it will be in every rock mags top five albums of the year. It deserves to be there, that’s for sure. While Mastodon will have every critic waxing lyrical about latest release ‘Emperor Of Sand’, they’d be advised to keep an eye on Royal Thunder sneaking up on the inside. ‘Wick’ is everything an album needs to be in 2017 to stick out from the crowd… it’s emotional, multilayered, intense, and above all, bloody good. No point in trying to tie the quartet down to one style or genre. Classic hard rock meets grunge meets psychedelic… a mouthy description, but it’s a start. The haunting vocals from Miny Parsonz are just one of the reasons that give Royal Thunder an edge. The dark, intense songs, and the ability to mix it up are a few more.

Instead of opting for the traditional full-pelt album opener, Royal Thunder go for the slow-burning, mystical, middle eastern vibe of ‘Burning Tree’. Parsonz’s vocals pierce through the hypnotic drum beat from Evan Diprima, and at some point, you will find yourself swaying back and forth, as you get into the groove. Sit back and soak it up as the band let fly around two minutes in, and the vocals build and build. Zeppelin-esque? In spirit, for sure, but this is not retro rock, this is something else. Likewise, when it bleeds straight into ‘April Showers’, the powerful, emotional vocals from Parsonz stop the listener in their tracks. Any comparisons to other vocalists are redundant, as she possesses a unique voice capable of raising the hairs on the back of the neck, then reducing you to a quivering mess. The pain in her voice has an unsettling effect on the listener. Sorrowful and unnerving, it truly is a towering performance. ‘Tied’ begins with a throbbing bass line from Parsonz that helps give the track a sense of underlying menace, like any minute it will break free. It does finally break free into a swing groove mid-song, until the guitars from Josh Weaver and Will Fiore take over. As far as opening 15 minutes go, these are right up there with the best.

‘We Slipped’ features some gorgeous arrangements (as does ‘Push’), as the song meanders to its climax in a total opposite direction from when it started. ‘The Sinking Chair’ is the first moment where the band up the ante, tempo wise. Again, it’s the drum work from Diprima that propels Royal Thunder forward, as Parsonz unleashes some almighty screams. The song fades out with a fleeting moment of wailing feedback… straight into ‘Plans’, an emotional tour de force from Parsonz, backed up with gentle strumming guitar and ghostly background vocals. The title track is incredible. Soft, Spanish guitar picking, pulsating bass and massive, massive riffs. I’ll wager that when performed live, this one will sound different each night. So many places throughout the five minutes for the band to stretch out. ‘The Well’ grows on me with each listen, as does closing track ‘We Never Fell Asleep’, the latter especially impresses, with its many twists and turns. The choir that kicks in as the song fades out is beautiful and totally unexpected.  

No bullshit, no cynical attempt to get a quote on an ad for the album, ‘Wick’ is spellbinding, and deserving of all the attention it will surely get come the end of the year.

Available now through Spinefarm Records

Review: Dave Stott



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