So what has made Royal Blood such a chart-storming success? And such a success despite the fact their début album barely crawls over the half-hour mark, and features four previously released singles?
The answer lies in the band’s unique configuration. We’ve seen numerous variants of the traditional drum, bass, guitar, vocals setup, but very rarely has there been just a drummer and a bassist. But with an array of effects and some proficient drumming the band create a rich and heavy sound that is quite unlike anything else out there at the moment.
Even before the band wrote a single note for this album, they already had a significant head-start; with a unique sound already established, all the band have to do is articulate a few half-decent tunes and success is guaranteed.
The opening of Royal Blood illustrates that the band can go one better than half-decent. Out Of The Black is a rock belter, with the opening a stop-start, snare-whacking affair that morphs into a powerful chorus. Kerr’s voice is venomously aggressive, but at the same time clear and pure. He refrains from screaming and this keeps the band grounded in a pop/rock aesthetic. Come On Over is filled with chunky riffs that would sound meek and pathetic on a guitar, but of course Kerr uses a powered-up bass so everything sounds immense.
Figure It Out illustrates the wonderful chemistry between the duo; with a bass as the only melody instrument there are going to be gaps to fill in, and Thatcher’s drumming fleshes out the sound expertly. His snare snaps and cymbal crashes do more than just keep rhythm, they inhale and exhale with the bass, darting forward to grab the listener’s attention with a fabulous fill before retreating into the background. This lends the album a vibrant energy that seems almost effortless.
Despite the undeniable quality of the opening tracks, they’ve already been released, and so it takes four tracks before we hear any new material. Fortunately the album tracks show no significant drop in standard, with Blood Hands featuring a more brooding, epic feel. Little Monster is yet another roof-raising belter that once more shows the stylish riffs that can be achieved with Kerr’s unorthodox instrumentation, and his massive vocals can equal the quality of his bass.
Better Strangers finishes off the album in a blaze of catchiness, without any loss in power or intensity. Perhaps a half an hour of material is enough for Royal Blood. The pace never slows for a moment over the course of the record and for all the praise heaped upon their unique style, the band never stray far away from what they know. The novelty of their unusual instrumentation may work a charm on ‘Royal Blood’, but they might want to try something slightly different on future releases if they want to avoid the ‘one-trick pony’ tag. For now though, ‘Royal Blood’ is an assured and fresh-sounding record.