There was a very short list of albums at the beginning of the year that I was waiting on patiently for their release dates. Possibly no other album was as highly anticipated for me as the new one by Atlanta's Royal Thunder. Much like their label mates, Horseback, not only was their album well worth the wait but it is instantly in the running for my personal choice for album of the year.
CVI (Roman numeral 106) is the first full-length album and second release for Relapse Records (after a stellar EP in 2010) for Royal Thunder. Here's part of what I wrote about this band in a Facebook post about six months after I discovered the EP: "It's the type of dark and eclectic record that grabs me immediately upon first listen and never really lets go. It's literally like Neurosis, St. Vitus, Mazzy Star, The Runaways, Kyuss, Blood Ceremony, and 70's German Kraut Rock got tossed into a blender and this band is the musical smoothie that came out the other side." Yeah, that about sums it up. Only I would add that this record is even better than the EP I loved so much.
I wasn't really sure if this band could get angrier, heavier or darker but they did. I pity the fool that ever crosses front woman Mlny Parsonz because the piss and vinegar contained in this album alone is enough to hex someone dumb enough to even try it. But unlike some bands in the metal realm these days that just stick a scantily clad woman front and center in their press photos in order to grab hold of the latest metal fad, this band is not just a pretty girl singing over top of heavy music. This band is an honest to goodness metal machine, churning out song after song of rifftastic metal glory (Josh Weaver can write killer, stomach-churning, goose bump-inducing riffs as well as anyone!). The songs wax and wane from epic crescendos to ethereal soundscapes, all the while, Parsonz' voice soars over them like a bird of prey on the hunt.
True story: I was at a BBQ yesterday and in a tree above me I watched a blue jay trap, torture, maim and finally kill another bird in what I can only imagine was a territorial dispute gone awry. It was awe-inspiring to watch something so beautiful become so vicious in an instant. Royal Thunder, and this album in particular, would have unquestionably been my choice of soundtrack for this display of raw and unabated Nature at its most shocking.