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  • Writer's pictureAmber Chow

ALBUM REVIEW: Royal Blood - Back To The Water Below

Since Royal Blood's self-titled debut album, featuring memorable breakthrough tracks like 'Figure it out' and 'Little Monster', some sections of their fanbase have felt that their subsequent records 'How Did We Get So Dark' and 'Typhoons' haven't quite lived up their potential. Some have argued that the Rock duo of Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher have began leaning towards the mainstream, losing their raw, exciting edge.

It certainly didn’t help their reputation after their BBC Radio 1 Big Weekend on stage outburst, where Kerr stuck two middle fingers up at their underwhelming reaction from the audience and said “We’re called Royal Blood and this is rock music. Who likes rock music? Nine people, brilliant.”

However, their dedication to songwriting has never wained and their successes have been the result of self-determination, relentless effort and powerful live performances,. This sense of self-reliance carries forward on 'Back To The Water Below' where they undertook the task of self-producing an entire album for the very first time, an impressive feat! This creative journey eliminated the distractions of external influences and provided them the flexibility to compose in their own Brighton-based studio whenever inspiration struck.

The band spoke to NME and said that the album was everything they wanted it to be:“writing songs is like trying to hit the bulls eye of what you want to make, this one feels the closest as to who we are as a band, and what we want our sound to be.” During their songwriting process, they tried to experiment on songs like 'Firing Line' but realised that trying to force a song to be something backlashed, instead they had to adopt the approach that “Our songs tell us what they’re supposed to do”.

The album kicks off on a heavy note with 'Mountains At Midnight' as Royal Blood appear to remain firmly rooted in their classic Rock sound throughout. 'Tell Me When It's Too Late' evokes a similar feeling to Muse's 'Super Massive Black Hole' but you can't help but think that Muse's 2006 album 'Black Holes and Revelations' exhibited more musical experimentation.

Upon listening to the album, regrettably, the majority of track appear to be a rehash of their previous work. There is the occasional introduction of piano or electronic elements but these additions don't carry enough weight. The thunderous riffs and Ben Thatcher's versatile drumming, that often ventures across different genres, do provide some thrills yet they seem to be treading cautiously with concise lyrics and pitch-shifted bass lines resulting in many of the songs coming across as polished and mainstream in their heaviness.


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