Album review: Royal Thunder – Rebuilding The Mountain

Six years on, a man down and one rebirth later, psych-dipped Atlanta rockers Royal Thunder rebuild themselves on fourth album…

Album review: Royal Thunder – Rebuilding The Mountain
Nick Ruskell

Someone once described Royal Thunder as being like Janis Joplin fronting Led Zeppelin. Throw in a bit of Queen Of The Stone Age-y psych, and a grungy residue, and you’re pretty on the money. Their last album, 2017’s 5/5-rated Wick, was a work of brilliance that hit card and caressed lovingly.

That it’s taken six years for this follow-up to emerge is less down to artistic knots, and more the band almost collapsing and destroying itself as, according to guitarist Josh Weaver, “toxic behaviour became a priority over the music, addiction being the number one factor for things falling apart.” From the outside, it appeared Royal Thunder were done – quite something considering their 2015 album Crooked Doors referenced in its lyrics the breakdown of Josh and bassist/singer Mlny Parsonz’ marriage.

This, however, as well as the pandemic, was a chance to regrow and rethink. Now a trio, having reconnected with drummer Evan Diprima and lost guitarist Will Fiore, Rebuilding The Mountain is aptly named. It finds Royal Thunder recording live in the studio for the first time, adding extra bite to the fuzzy Now Here-No Where, or Twice’s mid-way time change. The subtle, organ-kissed opener Drag Me opens things gently, at the more indie end of the band’s toolbox, but as ever, Rebuilding The Mountain is a journey through moods and music. Sometimes it fuzzes heavily (the start of Fade), at others (Pull), it’s more measured. Always, Mlny sounds immense, a huge range rooted in a dusky, bluesy rawness.

Everyone loves a redemption story, and Rebuilding The Mountain is a cracker. Not just a welcome return from a band who looked finished, but an example of why such a good outfit are worth working to keep going.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Queens Of The Stone Age, Soundgarden, Baroness

Rebuilding The Mountain is released on June 16 via Spinefarm

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