A couple of years past one of our readers suggested I give a listen to C.V.I. by Royal Thunder and pretty much right after the first spin I was absolutely in love with it. It is unlike anything I had heard. It encompasses the attitude of metal, the psychedelic tendencies of prog, the soul of blues rock, and the heart of Americana folk. Yet, if one were to pin it to one or a mix of those genres, it just wouldn’t fit in too well. It just sits there on its own doing its own thing. Now the Georgian quartet are here with a sophomore release to one of my favorite modern records and it does not disappoint. In fact, it quite surpasses any expectations I had.
As with C.V.I., a big driving force throughout the entirety of Crooked Doors lies within the singular voice of Mlny Parsonz. Exuding soul, emotion, and gravitas on every single note her bluesy vocals float effortlessly through whatever color or mood her band mates throw at her. Whether the personifying that snarl of grunge on ‘Time Machine’ or channeling her inner-Billie Holiday on ‘The Bear’ Americana suite, she will find a way tug at your heartstrings in some shape or form. And her lyrics just amplify the passion put into the singing.
Royal Thunder is a band and not the Mlny Parsonz show however, and with such a notable voice like hers, you better believe the rest of the crew are no slouches. There’s no superfluous solos, crushing rhythms, or show stealing riffs going on the record. What the real talent here is how all four member work together to lift the other up and create interesting and concise songs. On ‘Ear on the Fool’ a bright sounding ominous riff weaves through a serpentine rhythm creating this delightfully dizzying effect while the vocals keep the twisty turbulence in check. On ‘Forget You’ the doom metal riffing feels right at home with rock and roll vocals and on ‘The Line’ the fuzzy guitar tone melds perfectly with the Mars Volta-like passages of proggy psychedelia. There’s even a rather unique take on the ballad with ‘The Line’ delivering a grungy/country concoction. The record is filled with endless moments of one complimenting the other, and not only is it engaging but also makes repeat listens that much more enjoyable. This is a band that really feeds off of each other and it’s a pleasure to listen to.
Starting with a bang and ending on a solemn and uplifting note, Crooked Doors is a complete package. Whether you’re a fan of metal, rock, blues, prog, folktechbabbledethsludge-coorz, if you dig on simply damn great music this is a must listen. Not wanting depreciate their outstanding debut, this album is the outcome of hard work and honing a craft. There wasn’t a single moment I found my attention meandering from the music which is a testament to the strong songwriting and performances throughout its hour-long run time. The highest of recommendations. Peace love and metal!!! 5/5
The explosion of female fronted doom/occult metal/rock bands over the past couple of years has been nothing but a breath of air directly taken from the peaks of the Rocky Mountains. If anything, having a female presence in band that is not bleating her faux-operatic vocals over saccharine symphonic power metal has created a bit of parity and diversity in the metal world. To me it seems that the selling point is no longer ‘listen to us because we got this hot chick in our band’, but rather ‘listen to us because we’re creating new and interesting dynamics in our band’. The opening track on today’s album under review sums this up perfectly.
It’s common knowledge that all the wonderful rock and metal music you hear today is based off the roots of the blues. And while many artists acknowledge that, finding a cover paying homage to the oldschool delta bluesmen seems to be quite a rare commodity. Well, leave it up to Clutch, who are no stranger to incorporating the delta blues into their unique style, to be ones to buck the trend and drop a cover of one of those old timey blues jams. And being Clutch, they just couldn’t do a straight cover of the song, but went ahead and added a wealth of electricity to the song changing Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “Gravel Road Blues” from a chugging steam locomotive into a speeding Maglev. Clutch also added a few more lines to the song not heard in the original, but they still carry on its spirit and feel. Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!
Original Mississippi Fred McDowell Version (note: not the real original but the closest I could find on Youtube)
Americana blues rockers Clutch passed around a multi-camera recording of one of their live shows from 1996 on their Facebook today. It has great sound and video quality (a little blurry from the VHS recording, but it equals some of the better bootlegs that were being passed around at the time. Remember that, actually passing around a VHS tape from friend to friend and all taking turns making copies by hooking up 2 VCRs together, or was it just me?). The setlist is composed of songs from their earlier E.P.s such as Impetus up to their now classic self-titled album, which was released around the time this recording was taken.
It’s cool to see how far Clutch have come since their earlier days. Their heavier sound, a beardless Neil Fallon, and all the members looking all young like. It’s cool that this is the line-up the band has stuck with over their long and still going career, you can tell these guys really have chemistry together. Watching these guys live is always awesome. Along with playing their current album’s material they veer off onto metal/blues jams and just have fun on stage. I like how in this video you can see/hear how some of their jams that eventually turned into full on album songs. They also never play the same setlist at a show twice, Neil Fallon had said that before every show they “pretty much pick their setlists songs out of a hat.” Anyways, got some time to kill, check out this awesome set and revel in the awesomeness of Clutch. Peace Love and Metal!!!