Royal Bloodby Royal Blood
Listening to the radio is usually an audio wallpaper experience; music wafts in and out without registering any interest whatsoever.
Every so often though, one track can tap your ear drums into submission, causing you to pay attention. This is exactly what happened to us when we heard 'Out of the Black' for the first time from Brighton duo Royal Blood.
Since then we've been nervously waiting for the debut album. It's been an odd twilight period, riddled with anxiety that the album just won't be able to live up to the majesty of this single. We needn't have worried.
There's something deliciously dirty about the intro to 'Out of the Black' that doesn't disappoint. It's aggressive and struts about with an abundance of energy throughout. It's a cocky little shit, but you can't help but admire it. If you could have a man crush on any song, it would be this one.
With all guitars blazing, there's very little opportunity to catch your breath with 'Come on Over'. It just pounds brutally away, drums smacking you around the chops whilst guitars swirl defiantly above you, waiting to attack without notice.
'Figure it Out' is the first track that moves away from a traditional rock sound, giving off a vibe remarkably reminiscent of Jack White. But so what if it does; Mike Carr and Ben Thatcher wouldn't be the first rockers to wear their influences ever so loudly on their sleeves and still manage to walk away with very much their own identity.
Much has been made of the Jack White comparisons, but listening to 'You can be so Cruel' sees them knocking on Josh Homme's door, with a bag full of Queens of the Stone Age albums (vinyl, naturally) under their sweaty pits. It's a wall of disturbing noise that you just want to constantly throw yourself at.
'Blood Hands' has an arrogant swagger that it's clearly unapologetic about. It's loud, proud and really doesn't give a shit if you like it or not. Quite right too. It has quiet moments that lull you into a false sense of security before it gets the big guns out and simply blows you away.
And then there's ‘Little Monster'; a single that certainly brought their sound alive during their recent festival gigs. It's already a classic that will rule the airwaves for years to come. If it were a God it would be Thor, swinging its hammer round and round, causing an incredible amount of destruction, just because it could. A heavyweight joy.
Carr's guitar on 'Loose Change' teases its malicious intentions before letting rip about halfway through. Not to feel left out, Thatcher gives his drums a thorough hiding, before the track disappears into thin air like Dynamo.
There's no reprieve from this wall of noise with 'Careless'; imagine a Labrador bounding towards you, with profound energy that jumps up and licks your face off. That's 'Careless' for you.
'Ten Tonne Skeleton' has a weighty presence, straight out of the blocks, that's nothing short of intimidating. It has a number of one-two combo punches, but then toys with you a while, knowing it could land a killer blow whenever it felt like it. All you can do is sit there, punch-drunk, and wait for it to end. But at the same time, secretly hoping that it doesn't any time soon.
Just as it feels like the album is hitting its stride, the final track rocks up, literally. 'Better Strangers' belts out more guitar and drums, with a slight blues lilt, as it blasts out a noise big enough for its ego to follow. And then some git pulls the plug and the show's over, folks.
Lasting just over thirty minutes, it's easy to feel a little short changed by this album. But there's no harm in the band leaving you wanting more. And let's face it, it's not as if they've slouched at all. This is one of the most impressive debuts in years. This rock duo have poured a hefty amount of themselves into this effort and it shows. What's more, they've done it on their own terms too.
What you hear is what you get with Royal Blood. Anyone who has had the pleasure of hearing them play live will appreciate that the noise you hear comes from just the two of them. They are the musical equivalent of Pacific Rim; the pair together create a huge sound that takes on a brutal life of its own, able to pound its foes into submission.
It's so loud and aggressive that it will no doubt be banned by the EU as its bound to be illegal for only two guys to make a noise that sounds like it's made by a hundred or more.
Sure you can hear their influences, but if you happen to also be a fan of jack White and QOTSA, sprinkled with early Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana, it's all good. All so gloriously good.
At a time when the music industry is a homogenous goo, Royal Blood offer an injection of adrenaline directly into the veins. In short, this debut rocks. If the band were to break up now and never record again, it wouldn't be the end of the world, as this offering would be a timeless gift that just keeps on giving.
The fact is though, we're already eager to hear the 'difficult' second album.
But until then, we can all be happy just listening to this bold and striking debut on repeat.