Released on 25th August ‘Royal Blood’ is the self-titled debut album from Brighton rockers Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher.
Following in the footsteps of other great rock duos such as Black Keys, White Stripes and more recently White Miles the guys successfully manage to sound like an epic 3 or 4 piece rock band. This is no mean feat when you consider how difficult it is to make your guitar sound like both a bass and lead guitar at the same time.
Guitarist Mike Kerr must have spent many an hour in his bedroom developing this skill because he manages to pull it off with seemingly effortlessly ease, whilst belting out the lyrics at the same time. I bet he’s one of those guys who can pat his head with one hand whilst rubbing his tummy with the other.
Royal Blood have much to live up to after the hype surrounding this album. Travel on the London underground and you will see posters a plenty proclaiming: “The best rock album in years” – Q Magazine and “Louder than cannons” – NME. Unlike the good folk at NME I haven’t stood next to any artillery and whist this is certainly a loud album it’s not Motorhead. Here at makeit-loud we tend to be a bit more measured in our reviews, and although this is a very good album it’s not the best rock album.
Opening up proceedings is ‘Out Of The Black’ and here’s where the head scratching begins. There is a definite disconnect between the great sound coming from the instruments and Kerr’s thin tone of voice. Sure, he can belt out the notes but he needs to develop and ugliness to match the lyrical content of his songs. There’s no menace or character in here. Pop singers may sing in-tune and soul singers may sing with, well, soul but good rock singers have at their core an emotional power that connects them to their lyrics.
The second track is ‘Come On Over’. This has an amazing bass line that rasps like a meat grinder in need of a service. It’s bold, adrenalin pumping stuff and you can feel the circle pit forming around you.
Up next is ‘Figure It Out’ with its bouncy rhythm and catchy lyrics. The fourth track is the Muse sounding ‘You Can Be So Cruel’. Matt Bellamy himself would have been proud to have crafted such a song.
Midway through the album is ‘Little Monster’; the band’s best known number to date. This is a crowd pleasing, pace shifting, riff blasting, monolithic song that showcases all that is good about Royal Blood.
The album draws to a conclusion with ‘Ten Tonne Skeleton’ and finally ‘Better Strangers’ both of which handle pain and sweetness in the same measure.
I’m sure all 10 tracks will play well live, and British fans won’t have to wait long. Royal Blood tour the UK in October and November.
(Sept 2014 Edited January 2021)