Royal Blood, Royal Blood
Oh, damn. I very nearly let this one slip by — we do get a crapload of releases sent our way, you know, and a large percentage of ’em suck — but now I’m so, so glad I didn’t. Why? Well, because I’m pretty sure I’ve just heard my New Favorite Rock Band, at least for this year, and you need to, too.
Royal Blood are from Brighton, on the southern coast of England, but on their self-titled debut album, you wouldn’t know it; they sound, instead, like the love child of The Black Keys’ Midwest-bred garage-blues-stomp and Rage Against The Machine’s mechanistic aggro-rock, with maybe a bit of OK Go bombast thrown on top. It’s thunderously heavy and low-end, stomping like a goddamned titanic engine of rock awesomeness, like what we’d all hoped Wolfmother (and maybe Audioslave, to boot) would actually turn out to be.
These two guys — bassist/singer Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher — finally make good on the promise, roaring on up to the heady heights of people like Queens of the Stone Age or “Seven Nation Army”-era White Stripes, and trust me, it’s only a matter of time before you hear these songs blasting out over football stadium-sized crowds just like those two bands.
They kick off “Out Of The Black” with a loud, staccato, almost militant sound, with sharp-yet-thick shards of guitar crashing together over Thatcher’s hard-hitting, machinegun-sounding drums, and then blaze onwards into the chugging, crunching “Come On Over,” which has a main riff that Dave Grohl would be proud to call his own and which reminds me of fellow Brits Band of Skulls more than anything else. Maybe it’s the hammer-ons? Or maybe it’s Kerr’s boyish yelp/howl, reminiscent as it is of BoS’s Russell Marsden, or The Subways’ Billy Lunn, come to think of it? The latter makes a lot of sense, considering that Royal Blood is the best rock debut I’ve heard from a British band since The Subways’ Young For Eternity.
“Figure It Out” and closing track “Better Strangers,” for their part, are packed full of Jack White-esque swagger and snarl, meaty slabs of rawk goodness, while “You Can Be So Cruel” is all murky slink. “Bloody Hands,” with its start-stop rhythms and fiery delivery, makes me think of Dax Riggs (which is a compliment in itself), and then “Little Monster” marches in with a sound so crunching and loud it feels eight stories tall.
It’s about midway through “Bloody Hands,” by the way, when it hits me — wait, is that just the bass I’m hearing? And yes, yes, it is; Mike Kerr may be a bassist, but all that really means is that he’s playing it like he would a “real” guitar, and he does it awesomely fucking well, apparently through a battery of a half-dozen amps. Again: oh, damn. This is straight-up, distilled-by-the-gods rock that doesn’t give a damn what you think but is here only to explode, and all you have to do is sit back and gape in amazement.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go listen to “Out Of The Black” about a dozen more times; you can see yourself out, right?