Release Date: Aug 25, 2014
Record label: Warner Bros.
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
It's reached Number One in the Official UK Charts and with good reason. Here's what we made of Royal Blood's cracking self-titled debut Royal Blood’s blueprint is simple: hack Led Zeppelin back to their thunderous rhythm section, chuck in Prince’s ear for a hit, add riffs by the truckload and play every bass thump and snare strike like it’s your last on earth. But if it was that bloody easy, everyone would be doing it.
The bludgeoning opener to Royal Blood's self-titled debut, "Out of the Black" is a riff-fueled onslaught that belies their two-piece status; with just a heavily processed bass guitar and a drum set between them, they make some four-piece rock bands look inconsequential. Their bustling career started just 24 hours after drummer Ben Thatcher picked up vocalist/bassist Mike Kerr after he touched down from a trip to Australia with a show in their hometown in Brighton, and they didn't look back. In roughly a year together Royal Blood have learned quickly, and tour dates and the early support of Arctic Monkeys -- who themselves were thrust quickly into the limelight -- influenced tracks such as "Blood Hands," which has all the cocksure swagger of the Sheffield outfit.
Eleven is one louder than ten, so said Nigel Tufnel. The more the number goes up, the more extreme the volume. Common sense, right? So how exactly do we explain Royal Blood? The two piece may be svelte in terms of number, but when it comes to noise they’re surfing a soundwave straight out of the hellmouth. Yet where a bit of a good old fashioned racket usually means an underground rather than mainstream concern, over the past twelve months Royal Blood have exploded.
It’s all in the details. There’s a moment about halfway through Royal Blood’s self-titled debut towards the end of the creepy ‘Blood Hands’ when, rather than his usual skin-pounding assault, drummer Ben Thatcher reverts to a surprisingly hushed tap-tap-tap to accompany Mike Kerr’s drawl and low-slung riff. Much of what has been written and said so far about this Brighton duo focuses on the noise and guts of their two-pronged assault and the idea that it amounts to far more than a two-piece should be capable of.
Ahead of this year's Mercury prize, DiS in partnership with Naim Audio's new wireless music system, mu-so, will help you GoDeeper into this year's nominated albums. To kick off, we are focussing your attention on the chart-topping debut album by brash-rock duo Royal Blood. Here is Christian's review of the record, originally published back in August before the album topped the charts.
There’s a real sense of familiarity when it comes to Britain’s Royal Blood. First of all, there’s the name in what’s becoming a crowded field. There’s a Royal Wood, a Royal Canoe, a Royal Forest, and so on and so forth. Then there’s the band’s sound. Comprised of singer/bassist Mike ….
Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher, often referred to as a "power duo" – a phrase that brings to mind dual-cleaning bog bleach as opposed to saviours of rock – were the only guitar group featured on BBC's Sound of 2014 list. The pressure is on, and not only because they've topped the US rock chart and share management with Arctic Monkeys – which is certainly reflected in their music, their debut recalling the Sheffield act in their desert-rock, post-social-satirical phase. Peel back the early 00s rock (the Vines, Death from Above, riffs that lurch like Jack White drunk at a saloon bar) and there are quavering vocals that add texture to their stodgy sound, too.
In January, Brighton duo Royal Blood seemed like a tokenistic entry on the BBC's Sound of 2014. The two twenty-nothing friends might have looked a little like a bearded Disclosure dipped in black Dylon, but they sounded like a riff factory, one cast adrift in a sea of more bankable singer-songwriters. Sure, Matt Helders, Arctic Monkeys' drummer, was an early advocate.
In the year 2014, the only thing more tired and predictable than mainstream rock is the perpetual reports of its demise. But then, the gatekeepers of tradition need us to believe rock is dying in order to keep selling us a new resurrection narrative, like any consumer product in the mature phase of its life cycle and in need of a good marketing hook. But the audience for rock music never disappeared, it merely pluralized.
OK, let’s get this out of the way: Royal Blood sound like The White Stripes. They do. Do all rock duos sound like the White Stripes? Absolutely not. Does this one? Of course. Sometimes it’s the vocal melody, sometimes it’s the instrumentation, but it’s usually there. Anyway, when Mike Kerr ….