Release Date: Apr 7, 2015
Record label: Relapse Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal, Doom Metal, Stoner Metal, Sludge Metal
When Royal Thunder's CVI was released in 2012, the hype machine framed the band as part of a wave of occult rock bands, bands that were seemingly lumped together because each happened to have a member of the "other" gender; but occult rock it was not. Rather, it was a gritty rock 'n' blues record with some '90s grunge influences, anchored by the rich, stentorian wail of bassist Mlny Parsonz.Just three short years later, the band is back with their second full-length, Crooked Doors. Again, the focus is strange: so far, the Internet has been focusing on the "break up" aspect, as Parsonz and guitarist Josh Weaver divorced.
The sophomore studio outing from the Atlanta-based hard rock unit doubles down on the bluesy, psych-fueled classic rock vibe of its predecessor, 2012's excellent CVI, but there is an inescapable patina of melancholy that coats Crooked Doors. Breakup albums are nothing new, but outside of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, they rarely involve bandmembers who are trying to maintain a working musical relationship amidst the wreckage of their romantic foibles. Bassist/vocalist Mlny Parsonz and guitarist Josh Weaver work through their angst in different ways (Parsonz through her enigmatic lyrics and Weaver through his deft guitar work), but they both arrive at the same conclusion: Love Hurts.
The backstory of the Atlanta hard rock band Royal Thunder is Southern Gothic epic. Bassist and vocalist Mlny Parsonz left her home in New Jersey for the Peach State, where she linked up with guitarist/songwriter Josh Weaver, whom she eventually married (they have since split as a couple, but not as bandmates). Weaver belonged to a non-traditional church that appealed to some local artists and musicians, and when they introduced Parsonz, then an addict, to their religion, she saw a chance at redemption.
Atlanta’s Royal Thunder was a young band searching for a voice when it recorded its 2012 debut, CVI. Driven by the brilliant wail of vocalist Mlny Parsonz, the album was a heavy Southern trip, sounding a lot like the band’s fellow Georgians Baroness and Mastodon — maybe too much alike. Royal Thunder was reflexively pegged into the “Southern metal” scene, and with that came the mega-corporate festivals, metal touring circuits, and the expectations of being a big bad metal band signed to Relapse.
Royal Thunder Crooked Doors (Relapse) Royal Thunder commands a study in contrasts. On Crooked Doors, the Atlanta quartet's second LP, rumbling doom stomps gracefully as drummer Evan Diprima pounds and bassist Mlny Parsonz weaves. Guitarists Josh Weaver and Will Fiore lay down a blanket of riffs that cut cleanly, rather than fight dirty, for a psychedelic atmosphere that's more feel than form.