Royal Thunder perform at the Rock and Roll Hotel

Royal Thunder, sludge metal rockers from Atlanta, play at the Rock and Roll Hotel in Washington DC.

WASHINGTON, October 4, 2012 —There may not be a more perfect marriage of venue and band anywhere than the one we witnessed recently between the Rock and Roll Hotel and Royal Thunder. It’s obvious to anyone who’s been in the Rock and Roll Hotel before that it exhibits the kind of seedy side to it that’s been frequently glorified throughout the history of rock ‘n’ roll. No surprise. This is exactly the kind of atmosphere the venue strives for, and it is personified in a band like Royal Thunder.

Royal Thunder hails from Atlanta, Georgia, a city that seems to be producing some of the more interesting rock acts around today. “Southern Rock” seems almost a mandatory requirement for any band that comes from that far down south. Bands from that part of the country that don’t want to feel trapped by these expectations have been adept at incorporating other styles into their own while still retaining that distinctly southern edge.

This is the type of band Royal Thunder is. They have natural grit associated with Southern Rock. But they’re able to come across as dark and foreboding as a ‘70s metal act, while performing in the twisting and winding style of a stoner rock band. When looked from a distance, it’s easy to see how these various styles could fit together. But Royal Thunder the work of bringing out each of them distinctly even as they blend the two together.

During each of their songs, the band finds itself going further and further down the rabbit hole.  Their set isn’t necessarily for the weak of heart or anyone with a short attention span. As each song progresses – and the songs have a tendency to unusually lengthy – they become darker and more complex. This kind of music can suck the audience in to the point where it’s easy to get lost within the song. That is, until the band decides pull their audience out again and finish the song.

It’s understandable that some listeners think this approach is monotonous and just want an attack  that’s quick and to the point. Others might ultimately interpret this approach as the band seeking to expand the duration of each song with endless, needless riffing.

That’s all just surface glaze, though, for Royal Thunder’s sonic attack. Their songs actually express an intentional expansiveness. Instead of just superfluous riffing, everything about Royal Thunder has a purpose in that it always builds towards a specific musical point.

In general Royal Thunder’s songs start out in relative quiet, with the band emphasizing the lighter side of Mlny Parsonz’s vocals before they begin to pick up the pace. In the process, they commence shredding their way through the sonic landscape, building to an inevitable, massive  conclusion during which they put a capstone on the song by kicking the audience in the teeth with fist pumping force to the point of risking a mass coronary event. During all of this, Parsonz’s voice grows exponentially from a near-whisper to a shrieking wail worthy of the gigantic momentum the band has created behind him.

That encapsulates most of Royal Thunder’s show. True, they offer some sharper and more-to-the-point songs in their bag of tricks. But they really show their true nature and pull out all the stops when they’re twisting and winding their way down the dark and dangerous path they chart in their longer numbers. Eventually, that’s what really makes a Royal Thunder live show a real experience, making theirs the type of show the Rock and Roll Hotel wishes it could book all the time.


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Stephen Bradley

Stephen Bradley is an avid music listener and an occasional writer.  He grew up in the Washington DC area and has been embedded in the local music scene for years.  Currently he lives in Vienna, VA.   He enjoys bands that have been broken up for at least a decade.

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