Royal Blood

Royal Blood

Warner Bros., 2014

REVIEW BY: Melanie Love


I hear a lot that hear that rock ‘n’ roll is dead. I’ll agree that it’s hard to find anything on the radio with a guitar solo instead of electronic overdubs. But sometimes, the radio comes through, as was the case with my local alternative rock section when I caught a listen of the gritty, propulsive lead single “Out Of The Black” by Royal Blood off their self-titled debut. Funnily enough, this British rock duo doesn’t have a guitar either. Yes, you read that right; the Brighton-based pair with a massive, almost otherworldly hard rock/garage sound consists just of bassist/singer Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher. Incredibly, between the two of them, they’ve managed to create the sound of an entire four-piece band, all crunching drums, melodic vocals, and vigorous “guitar lines.” (Interestingly, what’s responsible for that sound is the use of multiple amps that Kerr uses with his bass while playing, coalescing into a wall of sound out of one instrument).my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

If I had to compare these guys to someone, I’d classify Royal Blood as a mash-up of the powerful riffage of Queens Of The Stone Age with an early period Muse, infused with the bluesy yet clean White Stripes sound. But they manage to put their own spin on their amalgamation of rock’s heavy hitters.

They launch out with just that sort of pounding riff on “Out Of The Black,” which is prime single material: their dark, muscular instrumentation paired with the confident swagger of Kerr’s vocals are immediately attention-grabbing. “I’ve got a gun for a mouth and a bullet with your name on it / But a trigger for a heart beating blood from an empty pocket,” Kerr sings in an ever-rising, throaty wail above a thunderous cascade of drums and the devilishly full guitar sound. The duo has a perfect blend of blisteringly heavy blues rock with a melodic catchiness that almost makes me think glam in parts.

On this one-two punch of a debut that clocks in just over a half hour, Royal Blood understands the impact of short but powerful song. It makes it so that they’re able to keep up the apoplectic energy throughout each cut – for instance, the roiling, Matt Bellamy-esque guitar soloing and slow-burning vocals on “Come On Over” and “Figure It Out” or “You Can Be So Cruel,” which sounds like Black Keys at their best.

The whole disc flows by in a thundering crash, but some standouts include the Biblical barrage of “Blood On My Hands” (“But I’ll kiss the ground where you kneel / Til I grow my hair to my heels,” Kerr wails on the soaring chorus), the sultry intro of “Loose Change” in which Kerr’s falsetto get tricked out with handclaps and shimmering drum syncopation, and penultimate cut “Ten Tonne Skeleton,” a hammering clatter of squealing guitars and lovelorn lyrics.

Altogether, Royal Blood represents the arrival on the rock ‘n’ roll scene from a duo that demands to be heard. You’ll enjoy the listen.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2014 Melanie Love and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Warner Bros., and is used for informational purposes only.