SHOW REVIEW: IN PRAISE OF ROYAL THUNDER
Pallbearer/Royal Thunder/Morne at T.T. the Bear’s, Boston, MA, September 8, 2012
T.T. the Bear’s might be one of my favorite dumpy Boston/Cambridge venues. It’s small, it’s dark, its bathrooms (both men’s and women’s) require extreme courage, and the liquor is cheap. Ish. I mean, $7.50 for a shot of Jack is a bit steep but you’ll be fine if you stick to beer. It’s the perfect little dim corner for an evening of doom-y metal. And the incense at Royal Thunder’s merch table added that extra special something.
I had heard of local Boston band, Morne, but have never actually listened to their music prior to this show. If you check out their Facebook page, they’re described as a whole mess of genres, but they’re mostly of the p-persuasion — as in prog and post-metal. There are shades of all the other elements in there as well (crust, doom, even hardcore), but their strength lies in their meandering, almost classical solos, in part because said solos come without vocals, which, I’m afraid, are the weakest part of the band. However, there was a funny moment when my buddy recognized the bassist as Captain Max from Turbojugend Boston (Does that still exist? Can I join already?), so, uh, party on (apocalypse) dudes.
Pallbearer has been raved about, lauded, and blown within an inch of their musical lives, so I don’t really want to dwell on them. They were good, they had some technical difficulties, but they did their thing.
I do want to focus on Royal Thunder. Royal Thunder has garnered several mentions on MetalSucks, and quite a few of them complimentary. But I think they deserve more attention. Why? Because they are amazing, and because CVI is one the best album.
The Atlanta natives make the most melodic, occult-y, trippy, dark, almost-glam, classic southern rock. It’s beautiful. I do not take that word lightly. I do not call music beautiful without meaning it. It is beautiful. Lead singer Mlny Parsonz’s voice is both throaty and clear, like a sultry Janis Joplin. She’s Joan Jett badass, but without the bad attitude. While The Devil’s Blood might corner the market in witchy-woman psychedelia, Royal Thunder can match them and still sound like T. Rex as covered by Black Sabbath… and yet, still somehow original. I love to watch drummers during shows, and Lee Smith is kind of hypnotizing. He commands the band despite being situated behind its other members, and does almost lazily during the slower parts of the music, before revving up into a full-on sensory and auditory attack, accompanied by guitarists Josh Weaver and Josh Coleman. Their entire show is a soulful-yet-electrifying experience. They were the band I really came to see that night, and holy shit, I was not disappointed.
And on a final note, please allow me to indulge my artwork geek and compliment Royal Thunder on their merch designs. Best ones I’ve seen in a while.