Photo by Dena Flows via Flickr (Under License Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0))
Royal Blood, the rock duo from Worthing released their fourth studio album Back to The Water Below on September 1st. Royal Blood are recently known for their Radio One Big Weekend controversy when the lead singer, Mike Kerr, stormed off the stage and called the crowd ‘pathetic’ after they lacked energy, and the album has caused further controversy amongst their fans due to its softer sound than their first two albums. Their self-titled album and their sophomore album, How Did We Get So Dark include the harder rock songs which became the cause of their success: ‘Little Monster,’ ‘Out Of The Black’ and ‘Figure It Out’ all being their most streamed songs on Spotify.
Their 20221 album, Typhoons, is admittedly different from their more successful hard-rock sound. It has a slower song, ‘All We Have is Now,’ where there is no bass guitar or drums, only piano as the main instrument. Back to The Water Below is an extension of this experimentation, having a more soft-rock sound with songs like ‘Waves’ and ‘There Goes My Cool.’
This has divided the rock duo's fanbase, deciding whether this album is a refreshing change from their usual sound, or if they are now too soft rock and have lost their originality in an attempt to cater to the masses.
Their most recent album is more akin to soft-rock and indie bands as they have introduced more instruments like the guitar and piano into their songs, unlike their previous releases which only used Mike Kerr on bass guitar and vocals, and Ben Thatcher’s drums. This two-man, two-instrument show was their unique selling point as it was something never seen before and welcomed intrigue; how can you have a rock band with only two members?
This begs the question: If they had used this album as their debut, would they have got the success and recognition that they have now? Or would they be just another mediocre rock band?
Despite these debates, it is undeniable that they are only gaining momentum as a band; opening for the Arctic Monkeys on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in June, and their new album going to number 1 in the UK official charts only over a week after its release. Royal Blood’s music is definitely music to be experienced live as their shows always are such high energy, despite their recent softer sounding songs.
They played Concorde Two in Brighton on September 5th, which I was lucky enough to attend, for a sold out album release show, adding a 5pm performance after their 8pm performance had sold out in record time. Fans were queuing around the corner for a spot close to the stage, the venue being only a small, intimate one. The crowd was packed and sweaty and only a few songs in, a mosh pit opened in the middle of it where old and young people, the youngest looking around twelve, began moshing. The drummer, Ben Thatcher, spent his interludes at the edge of the stage or barrier, standing with the fans, or even, in the Leeds album release show, in the middle of a mosh pit himself. By the time the performance ended with ‘Out Of The Black,’ everyone was dripping with sweat and ready to down seven gallons of water, but still not wanting it to be over.
So if you’re not sure about their newest album, go to a live show and hear them play some of the songs and it might just change your mind.
Edited by Lucy Blackmur, Music Editor