Crooked Doors (Relapse Records) by Royal Thunder

Crooked Doors (Relapse Records) by Royal Thunder

Record review

“Crooked Doors (Relapse Records)” by Royal Thunder

Review written by Thomas Pizzola


Royal Thunder Crooked Doors

Royal Thunder Crooked Doors

It has been three years since Royal Thunder’s auspicious full-length “CVI” album came out, heralding the arrival of a major new talent in loud rock. Since that time, the band has logged countless miles on the road, having opened for everyone from Valient Thorr to the Dillinger Escape Plan, amongst others.  They’ve added and subtracted a few members and have found time to record a follow up to their full-length debut. “CVI” took a lot of people by surprise with its memorable combination of doom, psyche, classic and punk rock, topped off by the powerhouse vocals of bassist Mlny Parsonz. A self-titled EP released in 2011 only hinted at great things to come. “CVI” put the band on a lot more people’s radars, which means this time around the expectations are a lot higher.

If there was any extra pressure on the band, it doesn’t show on this confident and focused release. “Crooked Doors” expands upon their sound, taking interesting sonic twists and turns. The band lets its contrast between brooding psychedelic rock and crunchy hard rock come into the forefront on many of the songs. They aren’t afraid to think outside the box and add a few touches that take them and their listeners out of their comfort zone. They end the album with a piano ballad that has more in common with Tori Amos than Black Sabbath.  More on that later.

In addition, Parsonz really comes into her own on this recording. Her vocals are powerful, emotive and full of passion. She delivers a bravura performance that easily catapults her into the upper echelons of loud rock vocalists. Additionally, guitarist Josh Weaver’s riffs and solos are more cutting and emotive. He ups his game, too.

“Time Machine” opens the album with ringing psychedelic chords that build to a loud, cathartic chorus. “Forget You” splits the difference between doom, psyche and plugged-in Neil Young to great effect. “The Line” begins with a menacing bass line, explodes into crunchy hard rock, goes mellow and then goes loud again, bolstered by some expressive solos from Weaver. “Glow” adds a bit of electric blues to the mix, while “Ear On The Fool” explores more expansive sonic territories.

Royal Thunder take their biggest chance on the two-song cycle that ends the album; “The Bear I” and “The Bear II”. The first part, sets a somber tone with sparse instrumentation and Parsonz’s regret-filled vocals. The second part introduces a piano and is the most emotionally naked part of the album. It is heavy, but not in terms of sonic density, and ends the album in a pleasantly surprising way. You would expect them to go out, guns blazing, but instead they take it in another direction. It’s audacious and it works.

“Crooked Doors” succeeds magnificently in pushing Royal Thunder’s sound forward. There is no sophomore slump to be heard on this record. It is a worthy successor to their debut, even one-upping that album in a few instances. You’re not going to get a more emotionally honest album all year.



Thomas Pizzola is a freelance writer based out of Hartford County. His lengthy resume includes stints with the now defunct Hartford and New Haven Advocates, the Hartford Courant, CT Indie, Verbicide, Alternative Control and New Noise magazine. In his too little free time, he likes to go to movies, read and obsess way too much over professional wrestling for somebody his age. In addition, he is slowly becoming a craft beer snob. He is also quite handsome.


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