Released by: Warner Bros
Release Date: Out Now!
Genre: Indie \ Garage Rock
Links: Official Website
Mike Kerr – lead vocals, bass guitar
Ben Thatcher – drums
1. Out Of The Black
2. Come On Over
3. Figure It Out
4. You Can Be So Cruel
5. Blood Hands
6. Little Monster
7. Loose Change
9. Ten Tonne Skeleton
10. Better Strangers
Formed very recently in 2013, Royal Blood have managed to go from ‘upcoming band’ to one on the lips of a nation as they immediately top the UK album charts based on presales alone with this, their début release. Début single, ‘Out of the Black’ was released late in 2013 at which point it was confirmed that they would support the Arctic Monkeys for two London Finsbury Park shows in May 2014. In addition to those shows, the band were quickly booked for the summer festival circuit and have clearly hit upon a winning formula which taps into a vein of classic blues led tunes with distorted bass guitars.
So then, to the massively hyped début. Ten tracks including the aforementioned single as the album opener followed by the B-Side from that release as track two. The sound, not surprisingly feels immediately familiar. Comparisons to the White Stripes have been made, mostly due the two piece combo set up but they also have moments where they sound like classic Muse, Led Zeppelin and some of the licks could be found on Nirvana’s classic releases especially with ‘Come on Over‘ and ‘Better Strangers‘.
It’s no surprise that fans of the above mentioned bands have flocked to Royal Blood. The White Stripes have done very little in recent years, Jack White’s solo material doesn’t stand up against the band’s earlier output, Muse have headed away from rock towards a more epic Prog rock sound and QOTSA who also warrant a comparison in this review are not exactly turning albums around in rapid succession. Thus is stands to Royal Blood to pick up the baton and run with their take on a scene that will appeal to festival goers globally. It’s only going to be a matter of time before they are high up the bill on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury.
Taking some of the tracks apart, ‘Out of the Black’ sees Mike Kerr providing his best Matt Bellamy vocal impression and Ben Thatcher driving a pounding rhythm underneath it all to deliver a great opening to the album. Listening to the track and immediate follow up ‘Come On Over’ it’s easy to assume that although the listed instruments are just bass guitar and drums more instruments have been included in the recording process. Kerr has been quick to rebut this and a quote from Boon Magazine last last year states:
“Contrary to popular belief there’s actually no electric guitars on any of the recordings. We just filled a room with four or five amplifiers, all on full and all having a different sound, and at the other end was just one bass. It’s really important to us that that’s all you’re hearing. I think at most all we really did was add a shake of a tambourine.”
When you take this fact into consideration, the sound the duo create is all the more impressive. The riffs sound like they are being wrung out of a guitar rather than a bass and to be able to get those sounds with that sort of speed and precision clearly shows a talented player in the front man.
‘Figure It Out’ evokes classic White Stripes, blues led rock with a nod to a very catchy Jack White like vocal. The solo on it is a beautiful mess of distortion and it’s that distorted approach that ages the sound like a fine wine to the glorious heyday of classic rock music in the 1970s. It’s a similar approach to rock music that Dave Grohl has taken with the Foo Fighters. Strip everything back to basics and just deliver good music. There’s no polished vocals, over dubs or multiple layers of intricate instrumental add-ins, just solid rock music delivered in a way that will translate perfectly to the live arena without losing any power or changing the feel of the tracks. The Foo Fighters influence appears on ‘Blood Hands’ with the soft vocal intro and energised hook and chorus reminiscent of ‘All My Life’.
‘Little Monster‘ has a riff \ intro that would sit comfortably on a Black Sabbath release such is the power of the bass led sound that Kerr produces. The vocals again are very Muse like and the combination of the two bands sounds again make for a unique approach to this hard rock style. ‘Loose Change‘ with the immensely catchy line “Cause all that glitters is gold, Till the glitter gets sold and the money don’t fold, Yeah, your money don’t fold” sticks in the head and bounces around for a long time and it’s easy to find yourself humming and singing it as it pops up in your subconscious.
Special mention goes in my opinion to ‘Ten Tonne Skeleton’ which brings together all of the styles and influences mentioned above and delivers to my ears, the stand out track of the album. A contender for another single (although several other tracks also meet that criteria) it’s a track that warrants a significant amount of air play. It seems like the national stations in the UK are happy to support them with the initial two singles being added to multiple play lists.
The album won’t appeal to everyone. Rock and Metal fans are a fickle bunch and old school heavy metal fans may find themselves at odds with this release as it will definitely appeal to the indie \ alternative rock scene frequented by many of the bands mentioned above. I think the band will find more fans and a better home at the Glastonbury \ Reading \ V \ Isle of White festivals than they might at say Download or Sonisphere in the UK but it’s a minor point as the beauty of rock is the diversity artists can bring to the genre and Royal Blood bring diversity, originality and talent in spades to this album. An excellent debut
REVIEWED BY ADRIAN