Like many albums, I picked up Royal Thunder's CVI because I heard someone somewhere describe it as progressive metal. Like many of those albums, it turned out to have little to do with the genre. Unlike the majority of those albums, however, I wound up being impressed by this one anyway, and here's why:
Royal Thunder may just be the last true rock band out there. Listening to this album is like taking a leap back through time to the emerging heavy metal movement of the early 1970s. They have a huge blues rock influence on their music, drawing their sound heavily from Led Zeppelin and early Rush. You can definitely hear it in the juxtaposition of incredibly slow and fast rock tempos, heavily versechorus writing, and dirty production. To add a bit of confusion into the mix, lead vocalist MLny Parsonz's pipes evoke more of a 1990s alt rock sound, focusing on melodic but nastily delivered leads, complete with borderline screaming and ferocious attacks. You can just hear her tongue sticking out as she sings some of the harder sections, though she also has her more mellow moments, especially on the lumbering “South of Somewhere”.
Royal Thunder's own twist on these old rock formulae comes from their extension of the song format—the songs tend to run much longer than would be expected from an album of this style, averaging over six minutes each. This is used to their benefit, as evidenced by the multitude of ways in which Royal Thunder build upon their traditional rock roots, adding twists and flairs that could only be achieved from a modern perspective. Punk, grunge, southern rock, doom metal and more all get citations in Royal Thunder's treatment of early rock music, and the resulting sound is simultaneously nostalgic and fresh. The highlights on this album, including the abrasive rocker “No Good”, the contemplative epic balladesque “Drown”, the gripping album closer “Water Vision”, and the nine and a half minute centrepiece tour de force “Blue”, are all songs that I'll be listening to for years to come.
The only thing unpalatable on the album is the mixing, which isn't terribly great. The instruments have a tendency to become muddled and lost in each other. In addition, it's also unusually soft for a rock album, making it sound rather distant, sometimes compounding upon the previous issues to make the entire album an indecipherable aural mess. Granted, some of that does add to the nostalgic atmosphere, but there are some things about the past that I'm glad we've left there; unclear audio is one of them.
All in all, it's a pretty awesome rock album, fueled by a healthy dose of musical reminiscence tweaked by modern hindsight. The superb moments on this album far outnumber the average, and if you're looking for something to kick back to, you should definitely give Royal Thunder a try.
7.0 / 10
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