Royal Thunder - WickImpressive Atlanta rockers Royal Thunder have proven their credentials in the modern rock scene on the back of a couple of solid EP’s and great albums. Debut LP CVI blindsided me with its explosive rock hooks, dynamic songwriting, and bluesy southern swagger, flooring me in such a way that I admit to being apprehensive when they returned with sophomore album Crooked Doors in 2015. However, time has boosted my already strong feelings about the more measured, mature, and emotionally-charged Crooked Doors, an album conceived in turbulent circumstances after a relationship breakdown between two of the band’s prominent members. Frontwoman Miny Parsonz and co. channeled their hardship into a splendidly multi-faceted break-up album, recalling Fleetwood Mac’s timeless Rumours album. Wick represents the crucial next chapter in the band’s career, exorcising more personal demons and bearing the raw nerves and scars of heartache, tinged with a hint of optimism.

Shedding most of the metallic and sludgy elements that marked their early work, Royal Thunder expand their sound into more dynamic and hazy rock waters. Cherry picking rock elements from multiple decades, including ’60s and ’70s classic rock, nods to a hard to pinpoint ’80s influence, and ’90s alt-rock cues, Royal Thunder bundle their varied influences with clever pop hooks, shady psychedelia, and fiery modern rock sensibilities. In many ways sounding like the logical successor to Crooked Doors, Wick is a moody, emotional and musically diverse affair, continuing the impressive evolution of Royal Thunder’s gritty hard rock. Opener “Burning Tree” is indicative of a handful of slow burning songs on the album, with its elusive hooks proving rewarding on multiple listens. Whether they make their impact immediately or after several detailed spins, the choruses and addictive melodies on Wick bore into your brain and lodge there like stubborn ticks, making a strong case for replay value. Wick’s measured pace doesn’t indicate a softening of the band’s emotive hard rock, rather a detailed refinement and coloring of their rock palette, resulting in songwriting rich in diversity and dynamically executed.

“April Showers” boasts a simmering tension, haunting melodies and a loose, expressive groove that sounds like a more compact spiritual cousin of the sublime “Time Machine” from Crooked Doors, setting a strong standard early on. The bright verses of “We Slipped” play-up the band’s poppier tendencies before changing gears into a raucously punchy chorus, eventually winding down with a gentle and beautifully adorned climax. Musical variety is Wick’s strong point, which would mean little if the compositions were a mess. Thankfully the writing remains consistently strong and while arguably the least rocking album of Royal Thunder’s career thus far, Wick still has plenty of guts and emotional impact. When they do choose to unleash the hard rocking beast, songs like “The Sinking Chair” and “Turnaround” deliver in spades, the former in particular is an absolute spitfire, its seething tone reminiscent of “The Line.” The sparse and bluesy waltz of “Plans” is injected with a gutsy vocal performance, sounding like an ideal song for a darkened dive bar soundtrack, and I mean that in the best possible way. “Push” offers another brooding example of Royal Thunder’s masterful rock dynamics and heart twisting emotion. It’s a lush and hypnotic song that pulls on the heartstrings, showcasing Parsonz’s more delicate vocal range. I would like to hear Parsonz explore her wider range more often, as her restrained and melodic singing voice is a joy to behold.

Royal Thunder 2017

Overall, only a couple of songs dip below the album’s high standards but are solid nonetheless. It remains hard to look past Parsonz as the band’s focal point, as she steals the show regularly, standing out as an excellent rock vocalist and solid bassist to boot, sporting a deceptive range beyond her trademark rough-edged singing style. However, the rest of the band are no slouches, creating a tight and imaginative platform. The textured and finely detailed playing of guitarists Josh Weaver and Will Fiore features their own distinctive flair to compliment broad rock influences, peppered with progressive and psychedelic touches. The production fits the music well, sounding modern and organic while allowing the instrumental subtleties to shine through and wisely emphasizing the stunning vocal work of Parsonz.

Crooked Doors may have been a difficult act to follow, but Royal Thunder acquit themselves admirably on Wick, crafting a terrific rock album that stands toe-to-toe with their previous work. Wick confidently maintains the high-quality songwriting and consistency that has marked Royal Thunder’s career so far, resulting in a colorful and adventurous album that lives up to lofty expectations.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Spinefarm Records
Releases Worldwide: April 7th, 2017

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  • Monsterth Goatom

    Looking forward to this. Crooked Doors is such a powerful listen and quite cathartic, and Miny is one of my favourite singers.

    • She is awesome live. Just awesome. Saw them open up for Enslaved.

      • herrschobel

        oh yeah..saw them at a festival….they just bombed every other band that night ..

  • Sean Sky

    Added to my list. Completely unaware of this band before now so I’m gonna start from the beginning. Neat-o!

    • RDGEEK

      Crooked Doors is really the best place to start.

      • Sean Sky

        Already listening to the self-titled ?

        • I actually think Crooked Doors < CVI.

    • herrschobel

      yeah ! great Band

  • Shrümpelstiltskin

    Great band, weird band pic.

    • saillc

      Isn’t it way better than 5 people standing there looking “tough” with their arms crossed? I’m so sick of metal font, band photos, and all the bs that comes with it. This is refreshing to see some people being weird.

      • GardensTale

        Agreed! For instance I’ll always remember Katla for their dress rehearsal breakfast band pic if nothing else.

  • Jeremy Freeman

    I liked the album before this one a bit better. This one hmm is just a bit boring. But decent.

    • Luke_22

      Give it time, I found it to be a grower, now I’m hooked.

  • Eli Valcik

    I had no idea they were making another album, this is an awesome suprise. What’s next, another Mount Salem.

    • Oberon

      I think Mount Salem is supposed to drop an album this year. It was mentioned in a Jim Florentine podcast

      • Eli Valcik

        I was hoping someone would reply with something like this, thanks for giving me something to look forward to.

        • Oberon

          It is a damn fine album, but not too well known,

  • sir_c

    Ah nice surprise to hear something new of them! Thanks for the review

  • Chigo

    Seriously, what is this woman’s first name? I have seen it written as “Mlny” and assumed it was “Melany” with vowels removed (kind of like The Weeknd), but I’ve also seen it written as “Miny,” which I assume rhymes with “Tiny.” So maybe “Mlny” is a stylization, and the second letter is a capital I rather than a lowercase L? I’m totes confused.

    • Dr_Fisting

      It’s pronounced “Melanie.” This tripped me up at first too.

      • Chigo

        Got it, thank you.

  • Nathan

    This band is amazing, definitely going to check this

  • Excentric_13073

    I love band photos that are weird. It’s so much better than a bunch of brooding orange-juice loving dudes standing just outside each other’s space bubbles in a dimly lit room.

  • I love her vocals, but this song doesn’t really do anything for me, at least on first listen. I thought Time Machine was the only really good track on Crooked Doors, so I think I’ll pass for now.

    • LExpoZiod

      Yeah, my thoughts exactly. The music just doesn’t have the weight to back up such a powerful voice.

  • Eli Valcik

    I love Whispered World from their last album.

  • I think it sounds great, but I’m not sure I’m into the style of the band. For some reason, Christian Mistress is the only band of this type that really grabs me.

    • The Unicorn

      Love me some Christian Mistress, Lucifer, Death Penalty, Kroh etc…

  • The Unicorn

    Mlny, I wanna have your baby!!!

  • Shawn Cypher

    I have Crooked Doors, and it was good… but I didn’t find myself listening to it for longer than a week.

    That’s more my shortcomings than the band, though.

    This also sounds good, but I think I’ll pass just because I don’t see it clicking for me right now.

    My recent listens have been Thrawsunblat, WITTR, Pallbearer, and Duran Duran. There’s just no room!

  • herrschobel

    totally deserves the scoring…great Album …

  • Igor Alencar

    to be honest I didn´t like very much of Crooked Doors. I loved CVI, thought it was brilliant, but Crooked doors was a bit of a let down, felt a lack of power of theirs first album. It was so slow, and boring sometimes… Except for Time Machine, an masterpiece. But I am at the end of Wick, listening to Turnaroun now and I´am hooked! Loving it, great riffs, great vocals, catchy melodies, and finally, powerful tunes!!! I will just pretend that crooked doors never existed and listen to it as their true second album. So far, one of the best albums of the year

  • tool

    Definitely more hard rock ferocity than the previous album. Really growing on me. Doesn’t reach the epic heights of the first half of CVI, but nothing ever will ;)

  • Innit Bartender

    Chiming in late to say: I really like this! I couldn’t “get” Crooked Doors, as much as I wanted to, maybe it was at such a difficult point in my life that I didn’t possess the emphaty needed… But this new one is really growing on me. The vocals sometimes are a little bit too much but still, good one.

  • Joshua Deeds

    Odd one out, but I think Crooked Doors lacked a lot and Wick picked it back up.