The newest album by Royal Thunder, Crooked Doors, due out for release next month, is already getting a lot of buzz in the metal world… and with good reason. Everything about this band screams at the listener for attention: the commanding name, the rollicking classic rock riffs, this album's awesome psych rock-inspired cover, and the commanding presence of Mlny Parsonz, the bassist and vocalist of the group.
I've been hearing a lot of comparison between this group and Mastodon or Baroness, and while there are certainly notable similarities, I don't completely hear it. Royal Thunder are more like straightforward classic rock, to my mind directly inspired by Steppenwolf, Canned Heat, etc. Because of this, I was a little skeptical of the hype. Sometimes the world of metal creates a vacuum in which something that is not metal but still good gets a ton of attention, simply because those appreciating it aren't aware of the other bands in the genre, much the way metal bands who cross over to the indie world, like Deafheaven, get a ton of attention from non-metal fans. But this record really does rock hard, although it does not quite fit in with the world of extreme metal.
This is the group's first record since 2012, and so far each song they have released to the public has been stellar. The record as a whole stands very well, although there are a few songs that fade into the background a bit when listening to the album all in one sitting. Some of the best-known and strongest tracks on the record are "Time Machine" and "Wake Up." Both songs are extremely layered and feature an amazing performance by Parsonz. The tracks "The Bear" Pt.s 1 and 2 are two of the strongest on the album, and in my opinion, two of the most underrated as well. The vocals have a decided Janis Joplin feel on these songs, and the riffs are killer.
The bottom line is, this record is great if you love classic rock, and Parsonz really is an incredible talent, not just because she has an awesome voice and I love to plug women in metal and hard rock, but also because of her solid bass skills and strong presence in the group. However, I would recommend this with the caveat that it is not really metal at all; just a a group that has been accepted by the metal world. Those who only like the heaviest and most brutal of metal probably won't enjoy this record as much as those who love groovy, psych-inspired rock n' roll.
Favorite Songs: "Wake Up," "The Bear" Pt.s 1 and 2