Come the inevitable tussle for a spot on the 2012 end of year metal lists, you can expect to find Atlanta, Georgia’s Royal Thunder riding high. The band’s self-titled debut EP, rereleased by label Relapse in 2010, was a stormy Southern romp that simmered with potential. However, its first full-length, CVI, shows an astonishing progression in songwriting.
Gone is the lean doom of the EP, replaced by a gutsy topography of gothic charm, bayou mysticism and epic ’70s bluesy metal. Guitarist Josh Weaver, drummer Lee Smith and bassist Josh Coleman work through a series of absorbing and dynamic tracks. “Drown”, “Blue” and “Shake and Shift” fuse vintage, Zeppelin-esque riffs with a psychedelic thrum, while “Parsonz Curse” and “Whispering World” tear it up with greasy, bombastic stoner rock stompers.
Instrumentally, it’s all fantastic heaving churns and delicate, nuanced songcraft. But Royal Thunder’s greatest strength lies in the vocals of MIny Parsonz. Her phenomenal voice mines the depths of anguish, howls at the blood-red moon, spits razor-sharp tacks, and stops off at every evocative point in between.
CVI is soaked in the elixir of resonant, home-spun, rock and roll truths — a grand artistic vision distilled to its most expressive essence.