Royal Thunder ‘Crooked Doors’ Review: rocky breakup = hard rock bliss.
I don’t why some songs can induce the chills. All I can say is that it’s a rare occurrence, but when it happens you know you’ve heard something special.
That was my visceral reaction to Time Machine, the powerful opening track to Royal Thunder’s new album Crooked Doors.
Starting with a gothic chiming riff, vocalist Mlny Parsonz ponders the futility of regret: Keep looking for a time machine, but I can not go back and change one single thing.
It’s a powerful slab of heartache, and a showcase for her wailing pipes; earthy, rich and emotive, and the song’s dark ebb and flow never feels over-indulgent even when it hits the 7-minute mark.
The Atlanta, GA four-piece keep the momentum going over the album’s 11 tracks, with a sound veering from arena rock to psychedelia and grunge-worthy sludge. Forget You is a prime example of the latter, with Josh Weaver’s sonorous guitar work colliding beautifully with Parsonz’s soaring vocals.
Crooked Doors mines despair and catharsis in equal measure, ruminating on love gone toxic. This is a breakup album of epic and poignant proportions.
There’s a beautiful volatility on Wake Up, with Parsonz’ refusing to accept defeat, pushing against emotional inertia: Wake up, I need to wake up, I’m just wasting my time.
Ear of the Fool proves the most adventurous track, with a Mastodon-worthy tentacled riff that mirrors the disorienting lyrics: I’m in over my head. Hamilton and new guitarist Will Fiore’s chops are on full display, with sinewy riffing that recalls the rain-soaked swagger of Alice in Chains.
Another sonic highlight comes with One Day, a lighter hoisting-worthy anthem of love-gone-bad with lyrics-so-right and a gut busting chorus: Life set me free and cut me down the middle / I’m stuck in between it / Don’t put me back together.
Royal Thunder fill a much-needed void: hard rock has been rather underrepresented in the 21st century, and they offer a refreshing take on the genre, recalling groups like The Cult and Concrete Blonde, but concocting a sound unmistakably their own. Heavy, yet tuneful, vulnerable yet defiant, Crooked Doors is a work of ragged beauty.
Want to own Crooked Doors on iTunes or Amazon? You can pre-order via the links below. And you can preview the album in full via NPR before it’s April 7th release date on Relapse Records.
[amazon_image id=”B00T5ZTXSQ” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Crooked Doors (Deluxe Version)[/amazon_image]