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Thick Riffage & Heavy Drumming Propelled by Commercial Songwriting!
Royal Blood made a huge success with their eponymous debut. Number 1 in UK charts and 17 in US charts. Critics loved it and it had a ton of airplay. Also Josh Homme of the Queens Of The Stone Age approved its dance rock nature (a premise that he will bring upon QOTSA’s upcoming Villains record produced by Mark Ronson) and of course the almighty Jimmy Page find them refreshing! Oh and also how can someone forget about this? Lars Ulrich from Metallica, pounding the hell out of Thatcher’s kit with comfortable groove! (video)…
So if you take this increasing trajectory how do you create the follow up? The lads from Brighton took the safe option to play along the lines of their debut but they stepped up their songwriting game a bit more, thus creating a sound that has an instant connection to the previous one but with more solid rock structure instead of endless riffing.
How is the sound ?
The sound feels raw and organic but also has this modern feel to it, thanks to a guy named Tom Dalgety, who recently produced Ghost‘s Popestar EP and had already helmed the production of Royal Blood’s debut, along with other bands such as Opeth, Killing Joke, Therapy?, Pixies, Turbowolf, etc. His radio-friendly but also rich sound approach is omnipresent in How Did We Get So Dark?.
Another factor for this album is the killer work of Mike Kerr who plays the bass but through the bi-amp magic he also creates guitar sounds. This results in a heavy and thick sound that flows in unison. Also the structure of the riffs has this Jack White style where sometimes it gets pretty raw (check “Hook, Line & Sinker” & “Sleep“) or has that sexy swagger (in the case of “I Only Lie When I Love You”). Of course here you won’t see any weird patterns like progressive licks, thrashy stuff or doom slow melodies. Each song’s guitarwork is supported by the distinctive groovy sound of Ben Thatcher’s dynamite pounding which in terms of production again Dalgety managed to bring the best of Ben’s playing to the fore.
The sound of the band maybe gets the blame from elitists that it is has no solos or is too pop-y or radio friendly (it is but at the same time is no Arctic Monkeys), from mainstream fans that it’s way too heavy (it is), and from others that is just the same songs repeated over and over again or copying The White Stripes. The truth is that the bring a heavy resemblance to the early 00s garage rock revival style and indeed their first record has a certain continuation among its songs as well as they delve into the realm of mainstream music (they played this year’s Glastonbury Fest, and thumbs up to Ben for the moving tribute to Tom Searle with the Architects‘ shirt).
But i cannot see how all these can keep someone from experiencing the solid songwriting which is more prominent in this record, along the heavy banging anthems and the apparent oomph in vocals. Lyrically the album’s vast majority lyrics are –of course– about love (talking about pop sensibilities). Any further comparisons with other bands I ‘ve mentioned earlier will only help in terms of categorizing but the brightonian duo has a distinctive style, a fresh air and they manage to bring back excitement in the music we enjoy: just see any of their live appearances.
Fun fact: Royal Blood will be opening act to Queens Of The Stone Age “Villains 2017 Fall Tour” in US and it is interesting to see these two bands where their sound shares the releases of their most challenging LPs to date but more importantly, similarities in terms of balance between rock and mainstream.
Why is this album worth listening ?
- For its pretty heavy melodies- courtesy of Mr Kerr!
- Good rock songwriting
- To check how the heavy translates to a 2017 mainstream record!
In what situation you should listen to this album ?
Probably in a concert.
Something Particular To Note?
Well the guys partially covered Iron Man in Rock In Rio. Praise Iommi!
Hook, Line & Sinker
For Fans Of
White Stripes, Queens Of The Stone Age, Muse, Black Keys
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