Royal Blood is a band that has been on my radar for quite some time, even before I’d heard a single note of their powerful, pounding rock music. The buzz around the Brighton duo had begun even before their debut single, Out of the Black, was released last fall, and has been growing exponentially ever since. Three more singles (two of which reached #1 in the U.K.) and dozens of gigs around both the U.S. and Europe (including a set at Glastonbury that drew a crowd of over 10,000) quickly followed. Now, all of it has finally led up to what I and so many other Royal Blood fans have been waiting for – the release of their self-titled debut album. Though it doesn’t officially drop until tomorrow, the 10-track album has been streaming online for the past week, and it certainly does not disappoint.
Royal Blood starts out with a bang, opening with the angry, pounding beat of Out of the Black, a song that’s likely familiar to many listeners. Starting the record off with their lead single was a smart decision – established fans start out in familiar territory, and new listeners get immediately drawn in by one of the strongest tracks on the album. Don’t worry, though – Royal Blood does not suffer from the unfortunate fate of so many other records before it, when the rest of the album pales in comparison to the already-released singles. The remaining six tracks stack up wonderfully against the singles that came before. In fact, some even surpass them.
Among the stand-out tracks is Blood Hands, the slowest song on the album, and perhaps the darkest as well. It features a very catchy chorus layered over an extra-beefy guitar riff (something of a staple in most Royal Blood songs), and was an instant favorite after my first listen. Ten Tonne Skeleton and Better Strangers close-out the 10-track album on a high note. The former features a killer hook and perhaps the biggest variation of tempo and dynamics of any track on the album (used to great effect, I might add). The latter features some of the album’s meatiest riffage (very air-guitar worthy!) and a powerful, pulsing beat that drives us forward to this brilliant debut’s conclusion.
My one criticism would be that I wish that the album had featured a bit more variety in tempo and tone. At times, the more up-beat tracks can feel somewhat repetitive, and almost formulaic in their structure and sound. But despite any faults, this was a solid debut that the Brighton boys should be extremely proud of. Drummer Ben Thatcher has created some delightfully complex and unique rhythms that add a new dimension to these tracks, and singer/bass guitarist Mike Kerr is nothing short of genius. No matter how many times I listen, I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that this is a band with no true “guitarist” – just a drum kit and a bass.
Royal Blood comes out August 25th (tomorrow!), and believe me when I say that you need to give it a listen (Or two. Or three… Or just play it on repeat like yours truly). The future is certainly bright for these rock n’ roll newcomers, and if their debut album is any indication, Royal Blood will undoubtedly leave their mark on the music industry and keep entertaining us with their monster riffs and punching beats for years to come.
My rating: 8.5/10
Must-hear tracks: Blood Hands, Little Monster, Ten Tonne Skeleton, Better Strangers
Out of the Black
Come On Over
Figure It Out
You Can Be So Cruel
Ten Tonne Skeleton