It’s not even been a year since Brighton’s Royal Blood exploded onto the scene with rock behemoth Out Of the Black, which has made their rise to prominence far more exciting to see. Consisting of bassist/vocalist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher, they make what takes four men so long to achieve sound easy, with Kerr’s bass reportedly being fed through no less than 3 amplifiers to achieve its gritty tone. Next week, they release their debut self-titled record; read on to see what we thought of the album.
Opening with the familiar rattle and thump of Out Of the Black, it’s clear from the off that Royal Blood are taking no prisoners over this 10-song journey. Tense verses lead into a stadium-sized chorus which rivals the likes of fellow blues rock contemporaries Jack White & the Black Keys, as well as rock heavyweights Muse, whose imprints are left throughout the whole record. A chaotic bass solo leads the song to a crashing end, as it leads into Come on Over’s sprawling melody and pounding drums. Kerr’s bass tone in the chorus is unbelievably good, with many certainly mistaking it for a guitar with its high-pitched squeals and sharp jabs. Figure It Out goes on to demonstrate a dancier side of Royal Blood in its drum pattern and rhythmic bassline, before a full-on rock outro completely swallows up the song, as it spits out You Can Be So Cruel. It kicks off with a fuzzy blues intro, as Kerr goes onto to address a former lover with lyrics such as “killing me so gently, hands right round my throat” emphasizing the gloomier side to Royal Blood’s lyrics. The subject matter on their lyrics perfectly suits the dark feel of their songs, further demonstrated on the slow burning Blood Hands. The slower tempo of this one brings the high-octane energy of Royal Blood down a notch, yet it makes up for this with intense vocals which add drama to the track.
Halfway through and you can already sense that this is a great record, as Little Monster kicks off with its already memorable riff and catchy stadium-sized chorus. Although a lot of songs do follow the same, typically Royal Blood sounding formula, you do have to commend them for producing such a fantastic sound, especially considering that these are just two musicians with one instrument each. Loose Change’s scuzzy intro riff misleads you as the drums come in at a faster pace, changing the song from a slow-burning rocker to another danceable track a la Figure It Out. Smart, witty lyrics and a strong chorus make way for Careless which, with a majestic riff and larger-than-life chorus, is by far the highlight of the album so far. “I’m tired of kidding myself, another pill not good for my health” sings Kerr, as he wails over a pounding bassline/drums combo. The equally strong Ten Tonne Skeleton follows, with a whammy-pedal intro adding some nice groove to the song. “Cut me loose like an animal, fired out a cannonball” is just another example of great lyricism on the album, as Better Strangers brings the album to a premature end. Opening with a slow drum beat, this slower track has a strong element to it, yet just doesn’t quite live up to the epic standards raised by the 9 preceding songs. It would’ve been better to end the record on a high-octane thriller, yet just because one song doesn’t meet the mark doesn’t mean that Royal Blood haven’t made a great record from start to finish.
If 2 instruments alone can produce such a large sound, I’m pretty sure we’ll all want to see what Mike and Ben can do with more instruments, time and ideas at their disposal. Whatever they come up with will be a monster, and not a little one at that.