When Royal Thunder's CVI was released in 2012, the hype machine framed the band as part of a wave of occult rock bands, bands that were seemingly lumped together because each happened to have a member of the "other" gender; but occult rock it was not. Rather, it was a gritty rock 'n' blues record with some '90s grunge influences, anchored by the rich, stentorian wail of bassist Mlny Parsonz.
Just three short years later, the band is back with their second full-length, Crooked Doors. Again, the focus is strange: so far, the Internet has been focusing on the "break up" aspect, as Parsonz and guitarist Josh Weaver divorced. How, asketh the wise and empathetic Internet, could you continue the band? Maybe it's because the desire to make meaningful art with someone who clicks with you artistically transcends pettiness or breakups or anything else.
Parsonz and Weaver are a powerful team, and on Crooked Doors, they've linked with their relatively new drummer and bassist to make an album that eclipses its predecessor. Whereas CVI was more straightforward and gritty, Crooked Doors trades minimalism for dynamism. Everything shifts audibly: the skilfully jazzy drumming that sometimes is at times subdued and tasteful, at others thunderous; Parsonz voice goes from breathy to huge; the guitars quietly meander and then build up to squealing solos; violin segments invoke sadness. On Crooked Doors, the music is given ample space to breathe, giving it a progressive edge. All told, it's a huge leap forward for Royal Thunder. (Relapse)