Two years after Atlanta rockers ROYAL THUNDER released their heart-crushing 2015 sophomore album Crooked Doors, the group have added an enigmatic spark with their third album Wick (out now, Spinefarm Records). Listening to the fresh record as a whole, you tend to feel a dark and powerful emotion. An emotion that resonated from Crooked Doors or even off of their debut full-length CVI. However, this time around, the group refused to share the story behind Wick. Since music is left for everyone’s interpretation, the album’s mystery leaves doors wide open for our own imagination.
It’s difficult to describe ROYAL THUNDER as they tend to fluctuate between blues, psychedelic, progressive, and at times you hear a few CULT-like riffs. However, one thing is certain, their music surpasses a soulful sentiment revolving around the realities of human existence. Let’s face it, life is pain, we find sorrow within our own humanity; whether it’s love, family, or everyday hardships. With that said, Wick is no different. The record opens with the dark and gloomy churning melody of “Burning Tree.” It moves like a cryptic sedative with its haunting bluesy rhythm while hearing sadness within vocalist/bassist Mlny Parsonz’ plodding tone and concludes with an extended guitar riff fading out.
The slight up-tempo of “April Showers,” enhances Parsonz bass instrumentation along with providing a strong vocal delivery. The lyrics generate a few hidden dark gems such as “you were never really innocent,” and “never thought I would feel suicide.” “Tied,” speaks like an emotional break-up ride with lyrics kicking it off, “When will you learn that the things that you want won’t always be there for you? And when will you see that the world spinning around doesn’t spin for the sake of you? Please try to hear me while I’m speaking clearly, I’m saying goodbye, for good.” While Parsonz painfully describes heartbreak, the melody moves along with her veering remorse including a melodic breakdown followed by a coarse-like electronic conclusion.
The album picks up with “We Slipped” reminding us of a B-side Crooked Doors track. The song moves with a heavier groove, however, the overall shattering grief tale sparks a different energy when Parsonz introduces the theme of time emphasizing, “sands of time.” What this “sands of time” means is left for the listener’s observation. Moving along to another lively tune with “The Sinking Chair,” reminding us of the ROYAL THUNDER we fell in love with from their last two albums while complementing the instrumentation with crushing guitar riffs and captivating hooks.
The saddest song of 2017 thus far goes to “Plans.” It is hands down the best track, and the least complex. It’s a straightforward bluesey slow melody and you can hear an incredible amount of Janis Joplin in Parsonz’s vocals. As simple as the song structure and lyrics are, it’s the execution that makes it magnetically powerful. You will find yourself in tears hearing this on the album or even live when Parsonz cries out, “come back!” Then “Anchor” provides a hard rock and bluesy-chill vibe. For some out-of-this-world reason, the beginning of the title track “Wick” reminds me of the opening to the theme song from the X-Files. However, the alien-esque riff doesn’t last too long but the unsolved mystery lingers with more atmospheric elements and smoke-like vocals.
The revolving heartache theme continues with “Push” There’s a dramatic keyboard and acoustic introduction with an instrumental breakdown halfway through making it one of the heaviest melodies on the entire album. There’s a differentiation of pace and style, yet it ends how it began with a slow acoustic fadeout. Keeping up with experimentations, “Turnaround” opens up with a single guitar riff. It’s another heavier tune and if you listen to it carefully, you can hear a bit of THE CULT influence on the instrumentation. As the album nears a close, “The Well” climbs in next with a slower melody. However, as the song escalates, Parsonz generates one of her best vocal performances as her voice continues to amaze us with her impeccable capabilities.
The album concludes with “We Never Fell Asleep” and it’s reminiscent of older ROYAL THUNDER tunes. It ends with a mystery, looping to the fact that the meaning behind this entire album remains the band’s secret. However, they continues to experiment and evolve in ways that are incomparable to other acts and that’s what makes ROYAL THUNDER remarkable.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Plans”, “We Never Fell Asleep”, “Push”, “Tied”