Royal Thunder – Wick (Released April 7, 2017 – Universal Music LLC)
Damn, nearly two weeks without a post… I has been slacking and probably will continue to slack… anyway onto the content!
Essentially a vocal album, Mlny Parsonz takes full control and lays down a vocal performance that is as unmatched as it is bloated. Royal Thunder have continued their move away from the sludgy/doomy vibe of CVI but still maintain a semblance of stoner rock as Wick marks a transition to nearly soul territory. Mlny is centre stage and while the instruments provide subdued flairs they are no match for her power. Wick softly undulates, never too high, never too low, just moving enough to pique emotion.
Burning Tree is a great album opener as it combines Mlny’s vocals and the instruments but, it gives false hope as the marriage of the two is rocky throughout. The hundred little flairs beneath the vocals of April Showers are a lesson in dynamics and although subdued, when allowed to come forth, the instruments provide great depth to Wick. Burning with an opening passionate rage Tied is dissonant and confusing as its opening emotion clashes with the bouncy, groovy vibe of back half of the track. We Slipped is pure lounging chill and a mark of the over saturation of Mlny’s voice on the album. Too much of a good thing is a true lesson as the vocals, although delivered expertly throughout, begin to feel overdone as the album progresses. The titular track opens to a serene forest and the base line that enters part way through causes the very air to reverberate. Push is forlorn, a piano and violin weep together, and, as the track closes, it feels as though the opening weeping was for the listeners as the closing guitar run is essentially a fingering exercise pulled from a beginner’s tutorial. But, pulling away from the fingering exercise is the best guitar work on the album with the intro to Turnaround. The guitar sections on Turnaround are pure bliss and make me wish the instrumentalists were given more reign on Wick. We Never Fell Asleep closes the album with a minute of harmonizing vocals and just as the vocals became a burden near the middle of the album the closing harmony is one step too far and I cannot enjoy it.
The best tracks on the album; Burning Tree, Sinking Chair, and Turnaround, combine the instrumentation and vocals to perfection but, too often the album is just not what I wanted from Royal Thunder. The instrumentalists in the band have amazing chops but, feel neutered as they provide loungey backing music instead of the power found on previous releases. The sounds of this album do make sense taken in context with Royal Thunder’s evolution as they have shed any metal label and are now more indie than anything else. Aptly titled Wick burns brightly but, eventually burns itself out as over repetition causes the album to lose the power it could have held.