Royal Thunder – CVI

By Sean Palmerston

Wow, just where the hell did this come from? Talk about a surprise, the debut full length by
Georgia’s Royal Thunder has got to be the sleeper hit of the summer, and one of the most unexpected, surprising albums so far this year.

Together just about five years now, Royal Thunder had an EP re-released by Relapse in late 2010 that was decent, but it didn’t really fully demonstrate the potential the band has. A pleasing enough debut that sat well with the current stoner metal scene in the USA, it only hinted at what this band was capable of, and ultimately has achieved with CVI.

The thing that really stands out about Royal Thunder on CVI are the vocals of MIny Parsonz. The band’s album bio hints at the fact that this is the first band she has sung for and that the first time she stepped up to the mic her band mates were blown away. If this is indeed the case then I am sure they were completely flabbergasted. Parsonz has an absolute powerhouse of a voice. A little bit on the raspy side but with more than enough oomph to get her point across, her voice is the icing on the cake for the group. It’s like a perfect mixture of Johnette Napolitano (Concrete Blonde) and Corin Tucker of Sleater Kinney, although singing over a heavy, psychedelic metal band and not an indie or pop band. If she can sing like this each and every show they play then Royal Thunder will be winning over new fans left and right.

Which isn’t to take away from the rest of the band. In fact, CVI proves that his Atlanta unit has quickly become an excellent, in-sync outfit that has crafted an outstanding album as a cohesive unit. The drumming of Lee Smith is spot on, nicely propelling the songs forward and locking in well with Parsonz’ bass lines. Epic songs like the nine-and-a-half minute “Shake and Shift” never seem to drag. Instead, the band ties things together surprisingly well.

In fact, epic would be a good one word description for what the group has accomplished on CVI. Six of the album’s ten tracks clock in at over six minutes in length but at no time does it seem to overstay its welcome. The second half of the album is spacier and more psychedelic than the first half is, but they never lose their way. It seems to work even better if you have it on vinyl too as I do, with the album wisely split over two records. The first is more uptempo, the second more spacey and psychedelic but both are excellent. Check out late album cut “Drown” for an example of how they can play more mellow but then turn on a dime into snare driven Zepplinesque splendor.

An excellent debut full length, I feel very confident CVI will finish near the top of my best of 2012 year end list as something that stands out on its own.

(Relapse)

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.