They’re back, the Brighton duo consisting of Mike Kerr (vocals, bass) and Ben Thatcher (drums) with their hard/blues/garage rock sound have just released their second album ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’. This record has been highly anticipated, following their self-titled debut album in 2014 which won them numerous awards as well as being well received by critics, this band has shifted the sound spectrum of rock. Influenced with a mix of Queens of The Stone Age and Muse, the duo is back bigger and heavier than ever.
The monstrous noise these two produce is incredible, between Thatcher’s rumbling drums that always change direction, leaving everyone on their toes and Kerr’s screaming, thumping and amped-up bass, their rise to stardom is no shock. Within a week, their debut album had sold 66,000 copies, they’ve taken part in festivals such as SXSW, Glastonbury, Coachella, Reading Festival and many more whilst supporting acts such as Arctic Monkeys, Foo Fighters as well as Queens of The Stone Age this fall. Even Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, after seeing them in New York in 2014 said: “Their album has taken the genre up a serious few notches. It’s so refreshing to hear, because they play with the spirit of the things that have preceded them, but you can hear they’re going to take rock into a new realm – if they’re not already doing that. Its music of tremendous quality.”
It must be crazy for these guys to think that, knowing how their first album exceeded every expectation, they’ve now got to produce another album with a hungry crowd waiting to sink their teeth into more material. Kerr has expressed that with this album, they’ve decided to refine and sharpen their tools, whilst making sure to stay true to their sound and who they are. We start off with “How Did We Get So Dark?” which has like the title suggest, a dark theme of losing someone you use to love, the break-down of a relationship with pain behind the melody. It’s packed with everything we love about this band in terms of its instrumental accord, the second half of the song only putting it on display, reminding us that this is fucking Royal Blood.
“Lights Out” is one of my favorite tracks on the record, the fresh rhythmic part of the bass, the background vocals giving more depth and the explosive chorus and outro only leads to uncontrollable head-banging. The drums are nuts, Thatcher’s synchronization with the melody and dynamics makes you wonder how he even has time to do the fill-in he does.
“I Only Lie When I Love You” is full of swagger, the empty spaces left by the duo only accentuates the boldness of their instruments, giving us some cowbell in the mix, this track shows their abilities to control their sound to maximum effect.
“She’s Creeping” has a twisted melody through its verses, the vocals and sharp bass notes overlapping to show unease before the chorus reveals resolution in the harmony which can especially be seen in the lead to the third chorus. “Look Like You Know” talks of an ending relationship where she feels things have run its course, a feeling she’s hiding but pretending isn’t there. The song has little parts of eruption through the verses, a chorus which again shows pain and plays a beautiful melody alongside the situation.
“Where Are You Now?” another favorite track has first, fucking mad rumbling drums, marching alongside a sharp bass riff before the chorus changes the rhythm up to another head-banger which sees the drum and bass dance alongside each other into oblivion. The band said they wanted to make a song that made your hairs on the back of your neck stand up, or made you want to dance or kick someone’s ass – they’ve done just that. “Don’t Tell” slows things down, bringing that swagger back with Kerr’s light vocals, talking of a secret fling between him and a girl and with this tempo, there is room for the bass and drum to play around.
“Hook, Line & Sinker” gets us back to business with a thunderous bass riff, which nicely accompanies the vocals throughout the song, talking of a girl which has the devil on one shoulder but no angel on the other and has him tied up, deceived and tricked, hence the title.
“Hole In Your Heart” introduces a dark organ and mystical mood, before the drums roll in with the bass for the chorus that only reaches new heights half way through the song and the vocals providing a definite sing-along moment. “Sleep” is the longest track on the record, providing us with this nightmare-ish melody whilst Kerr serenades of not wanting to sleep. To close off their record, the duo lay out a well-crafted structure, demonized bass riffs that finishes off in a cooling-down matter, bringing you back to reality after these 10-tracks.
Royal Blood have delivered an album that’s heavier, more controlled and sharpened than before, all whilst sticking to their sound as well as proving they’re only getting better. We’ve been introduced to 10 new characters, the album being intense from start to finish with Kerr introducing swagger and sexiness to the tracks where romance takes center stage. You can look forward to them touring around the world, for what is a very successful second album that will only bring them to new heights which they rightly deserve – rock has been led to a new place by this monstrous duo who produce volumes like no other.