Royal Blood — Album review

A review of the Brighton rock duo’s eponymous debut album which came out towards the end of their amazing first year together.

Side A

It’s fair to say not many people had heard of Royal Blood prior to 2014. They only formed a year earlier and the first time I became aware of them was when Arctic Monkey’s drummer Matt Helders wore one of their merch t-shirts at Glastonbury 2013.

Once that happened, things just started to snowball for them. First, they were announced as support for Arctic Monkeys at their huge Finsbury Park shows.

They were nominated for BBC Sound of 2014, eventually losing out to Sam Smith. After supporting Arctic Monkeys, they announced a tour of their own and they put on an absolutely phenomenal show when I went to see them in Liverpool (which you can read about here).

In 2015, the band won ‘Best Group’ at the BRIT Awards and this album was nominated for ‘Best Album’ at the same awards, as well as the coveted Mercury Prize. After listening to it an absolute multitude of times, it’s not hard to see why.

The first song of theirs I ever heard, ‘Out of the Black’, opens the album. When I was listening to the band prior to Finsbury Park. Originally, I’m ashamed to say, I wrote them off as being too heavy for my tastes. However when I found out that it was just too people, I was absolutely intrigued and wanted to learn and listen to more.

Ben Thatcher and Mike Kerr are such a talented duo, with Kerr’s bass playing in particular being absolutely outrageous. ‘Come On Over’ follows and this is the song that actually got me liking the band. I was out in Manchester, as is usually the case, in a little club called 42's and this song came on.

Wow.

I was completely taken aback by how BIG it sounded and it was firmly stuck in my head after that.

Side B

One thing about the album is it goes past in such a chaotic yet brilliant blur that I struggle to analyse songs one by one as I normally do.

In places they channel early Muse, in others it’s more Jack White but it’s almost always brilliant.

Side B opens with ‘Little Monster’ which has become a firm festival favourite over the past couple of years.

One of my favourite songs off this side is ‘Loose Change’ just because when I saw them live, it absolutely went off.

All of the bass riffs on the record are absolutely massive and each song could be a hit in its own right, I remember watching an action montage on TV a while ago and it used about six separate bass hooks from the record in the space of about two minutes, proving just how consistent they are.

If I had to pick a weakest song from the album it would probably be the closer, ‘Better Strangers’ due to it dragging on a little too long for my liking but even that I can quite happily sit through.

As a debut album, this is a statement of intent. And it hasn’t gone unnoticed in the music world. Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page is a big fan and across the Atlantic they’ve caught the attention of Howard Stern. Not to mention, earlier this year, they opened for Foo Fighters on their UK tour.

If they can follow up with an album anywhere near as exciting as this then I can honestly see them headlining festivals in the immediate future.

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