In 2012, two guys, one drummer, and one bassist/vocalist paired up to create some rock music. Fast forward two years to August 2014, and these two guys who call themselves Royal Blood, have been included in BBC’s Sound of 2014 list, are about to release their self-titled debut album and have gained a 10,000 strong crowd at Reading Festival. If that’s not the beginning of a major success story, then I don’t know what is. I guess it all comes down to how good this much talked about debut is however.
Royal Blood is just shy of 33 minutes long, which could look like quite the risk for a debut record, however, the two lads from Brighton manage to fit everything their music is about into this bite-size package. There is no filler on this record; it’s direct and confident. The record is brilliantly noisy, and as you will read in most reviews elsewhere, this is a great feat for just two guys. Mike Kerr’s skills on the bass guitar paired with Ben Thatcher’s insane mastery of the drum kit mean they’re already set to play to huge crowds and induce multiple mosh pits. The simplicity of this album is what makes it great. There are no frills or trickery despite the unusual sounds that come out of Kerr’s bass guitar, he reassures us that it is simply a series of top-secret pedals and amps that create such tantalising riffs.
The relentless energy of the record keeps you on your toes. It is dark and brooding, with the moments of calm making just as much noise as the blaring riffs. When you think Royal Blood are already at face-melting heights, they up the tempo; take the end of lead single ‘Figure It Out’ for example – by doubling the time signature, the song builds momentum up to dizzying heights that are fit to cause circle pits on the Main Stage at Reading Festival in the near future. If this year’s performance at the festival is anything to go by, it won’t be long at all. Playing on the Radio One/NME stage on Saturday 23rd August, they blew the crowd away with the record. Smashing from one banger to the next there isn’t a bad egg in their basket, they go from strength to strength reaching ultimate highs on tracks such as ‘Little Monster’ and ‘Loose Change’.
Their success has been aided by the consistent backing of Radio One, however, they have the talent to back this up. They aren’t just another act to come out of the Radio One machine, they are seriously deserving of the attention the station give them. It’s endearing to see celebrity fans such as presenter Greg James show a real enthusiasm towards sharing their music, you only have to see the bromance between the lads on Twitter to know that it’s for real.
What Royal Blood have done is not new by any means, but no-one else is doing it as well as them in the present day. When listening to the record you will find it hard not to draw comparisons to the likes of Metallica and Muse; the stunning guitar riffs could easily fit onto The Black Album and the record is full of anthems that could one day put them on the same level as stadium fillers Muse. But perhaps the most obvious nod is to Josh Homme and Queens of the Stone Age. ‘You Can Be So Cruel’ borrows both the circular riff and distinct vocals from Homme, but still retains some Royal Blood authenticity.
The debut marks the beginning of a very exciting journey for the two lads from Brighton, and I for one anticipate their future with baited breath.
There have been many great musical duos that have appeared over the years: The White Stripes, The Black Keys, Tenacious D and Simon and Garfunkel. With the release of their eponymous debut album, Royal Blood are about to join the list.Forming in 2012, Royal Blood is made up of singer/bassist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher. In such a short time, and even before the release of a debut album the duo have played festivals such as Glastonbury, Download, Radio 1’s Big Weekend and supported the Arctic Monkeys.
Their self-titled record has been compared to the likes of The White Stripes and Queens of the Stone Age, and at points through this 10 track album I would agree; but Royal Blood have succeeded in putting their own stamp on this ultimately powerful rock album. With stadium-sized drum beats and unique riffs produced by a secret series of pedals and a bass strung with guitar strings, this debut album, just over 30 minutes long leaves a deep impression, long after it has finished.
Opening track and debut single ‘Out Of the Black’ couples juddery choruses with mellow verses, brewing up an angry storm which carries through the rest of the album. Singles ‘Come on Over’, ‘Figure It Out’ and ‘Little Monster’ provide some of the most punchy and iconic riffs and drum work of the album.
The album switches its sound with groove influenced songs such as ‘Loose Change’ and ‘Better Strangers’ showing the versatility and staying power of the record. The last two tracks of the album ‘Ten Tonne Skeleton’ and ‘Better Strangers’ are relatively slow paced compared to the rest of the offerings on the album, but still exude the gloomy lyrics and eerie bass line that has been created by the preceding tracks. It’s a different side to Royal Blood, but not a negative one, showing promise of versatility of the duo.
The only negative that comes from the album is in the mixing. It’s not a bad job as the blend of rumbling bass and trashing drums are spot on. However, the lyrics just float on top of every track. This does however give the album its own unique stamp and creates an eerie feeling that is carried through the record effortlessly. The pair seem to have the length of the songs well timed; each track is barely three minutes long but rolls quickly into the next, so no individual track seems too long or short.
What is clear from this album is you don’t need a full band to create an impressive sound and energy and purchasing this album will be £6.99 well spent. This first offering from the duo is a very strong start and it remains exciting to see in which direction they will head next.