Royal Thunder – Crooked Doors
Crooked Doors is not a flamboyant album, it isn’t overly technical, it isn’t exuberant and it doesn’t slap you across the chops with a big wad of meaty riffs. What it is however, is a stunning collection of songs where the song writing, the power, emotion, feel and soul of the bigger picture lures you in; these are siren songs destined to doom its followers with compositions of dangerous beauty. This is macro musicianship at its finest; strip each layer and you’ll see the simplistic but finely nuanced nature of each instrument simply doesn’t work without the complimentary input from every other member.
2012's CVI may have introduced the band with a demented bellowing of doom-laden guitar work, but the focus here is on the more lucid moments of their début. The lack of riffs may alienate some pre-existing fans, but allow their smog to seep into your lungs and you will fall hard for this album. It is most definitely an advancement of what this band is as a collective, playing to their strengths and sculpting their identity from the blueprints of CVI.
Time Machine is a sensational opener, oozing with feel and prickling with powerful sense of regret, Mlny Parsonz's lyrics whisk you deep into her reverie, the accompanying chordal guitar work, trudging bass and percussive drum work tinting their sound with a hypnotic pyschadelia. There's a common school of thought within the world's of rock and metal that many of our artists could sing circles around the auto-tuned figureheads that dominate mainstream music. Parsonz's is a blindingly bright example of that, but she could so easily fit into a soul or motown act too; the searing emotion which bubbles in her throat, the distress etched in her carefully penned words is inherent of a gift which just cannot be taught. She has that X Factor - the proper one - and the music that coils around it - which is by no means a mere after thought - couldn't be anymore suited. Crooked Doors takes your breath away.
A ghost haunts this record, its restless spirit ever present in the atmosphere. But at times it shows itself more vividly such as on the pained and impassioned Forgive Me, Karma and the horror spooked Ear On The Fool which evokes moments of Baroness and Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats at times. Again though, it is Parsonz who steals the show.
Elsewhere, there's a hint of The Kink's in the outwardly bright but inwardly dark and brooding flit of Floor, while Red Fang and The Cult bleed from Glow. Stripped and vulnerable The Bear I & II grates the soul like sandpaper, its nature so gorgeous it hurts. It closes an album that, while perhaps not offering the balls out romp people wanted, is an undiluted view into the slowly, painfully beating heart of a tremendous band.
Words: Phil Weller