Figuring out Royal Blood

Original artwork for the cover of "Royal Blood" by Dan Hillier
Original artwork for the cover of “Royal Blood” by Dan Hillier

The song “Little Monster” by Royal Blood has been on my Shazam list for quite a long time. I have no idea how it got there, I must have heard it somewhere and it must have peaked my interest.

late to the party

Today I started listening to their first album titled “Royal Blood”. I know, I’m late to the party, but none the less it kept peaking my interest with every song. I also discovered I had heard a few other tracks of the album here and there but never connected the dots. Which is strange as the songs on the album form a very cohesive collection. Without every song sounding the same that is.

just the two of us

Which is quite a feat considering that this UK band is comprised of just two people:

Mike Kerr who takes care of the vocals, bass, guitar, keyboards, piano and Ben Thatcher who does drums, percussion, and piano as well. The band never sounds like a two piece. Every instrument has its own personality so the album sounds like a collective of players that understand their individual instruments.

studio trickery

Production wise the album is augmented by some studio trickery that never gets in the way of the music, it adds to it. The studio is as much an instrument as the guitar or bass is. And as an ex-studio tech I love that. But even without the inside baseball knowledge, the tricks used really enhance the experience.

Sound wise the album sounds tight and heavy. But it never loses definition. Every instrument and every sound has its own place in the sound stage.

roots

The music has roots in many of the heavier genres but it never comes across as a rip off. The songs may remind you of another band for just a split second but then it goes off on its own journey. The band proves that there is nothing wrong with roots as long as you combine them to do something unique. The songs are very much Royal Blood and nothing else.

highlight

I enjoyed this album a lot and am looking forward to listening to their second album. And I hope they keep them coming and manage to take us on a journey of discovery to new and exciting places. But whatever the future holds for this duo, their debut album can firmly stand as a musical highlight well worth your time.

 

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Superunknown – Soundgarden

superunknown

I never really got into Soundgarden. This was mainly due to a live appearance I once saw on some TV programme. The gig was very uninspiring and the band clearly was just cashing a check. This put me off as I am rather sensitive to this kind of thing.

Audioslave

But then a couple of years ago I started listening to Audioslave. And that did grab me. So I knew about Chris Cornell.

The sad passing of Chris Cornell brought Soundgarden back on my radar. And boy was I wrong back then. Any band capable of bringing out an album like Superunknown, is worthy of a spot in my personal hall of fame.

second run

I started listening to this album this morning and I am now on my second run. And songs like Fell on Black Days, Black Hole Sun, and Spoonman, touch me right to my musical spine.

The other songs are consistently grabbing me by the throat and shake any misgivings I may have had about Soundgarden out of my system.
The sound of this album is full of grunt and weight and rawness. And yet there are many production cherries that make the cake complete. Some hark back to the Beatles, but used in a different context, like in the song Head Down. The voice of Chris Cornell is one of the best I’ve heard on any rock or grunge album.

rediscovery

Nicely hidden complexity make it an album that I will return to in the knowledge I will discover a new melodic element, a new rhythmic phrase or a lyrical line I had previously missed. Glad I went on this tour of rediscovery.

This text is an edited version of one previously published on instagram.

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