British rock two-piece Royal Blood has on its hands what is now one of this critic’s favorite new EPs of 2014 and potentially the best new EP of the year. The four-track disc is the duo’s—Michael Kerr (bass/vocals) and Ben Thatcher (drums)—first ever EP and second overall release. Most American audiences likely haven’t heard this duo’s work yet. Although, it has broken out in a big way on MTV Europe thanks to its new EP. And it’s about to break out here stateside, too thanks to the record in question. The EP opens in grand fashion with its bombastic title track. From there, the duo ups the ante on ‘Little Monster.’ As if the EP’s first two tracks weren’t enough, Kerr and Thatcher amp things up even more on the EP’s third song, ‘Come on Over’ before pulling back a little bit at best on ‘Hole,’ the EP’s closer. Listeners that are new to Royal Blood will agree in hearing this new EP that Kerr and Thatcher have hit on something special. The duo has crafted in Out of the Black an EP that is one of the best new EPs of 2014 if not the best of the year. It leaves listeners wanting more in the best possible way. And with any lucky, Royal Blood will in fact release its next full length album this year after having released such an impressive work on this record. Regardless, it is one more of those records that any rock purist should hear at least once before 2014 winds down.
Royal Blood’s new EP Out of the Black is without a doubt one of the best new EPs of 2014 if not the single best new EP of the year. The duo makes its case for that title right from the EP’s outset. The EP’s opener/title track is a bombastic first impression from Kerr and Thatcher. The massive wall of sound generated by the pair instantly conjures thoughts of Clutch, Queens of the Stone Age, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and others of that ilk. Kerr’s vocals are just as much a powerhouse as the music crafted by himself and Thatcher as he sings in the song’s chorus, “You made a fool out of me/You took the skin off my back running/So don’t breath when I talk/Cause you have been spoken to/I got a gun for a mouth/And a bullet with your name on it/But a trigger full of heartbeat/I’m pulling from an empty pocket.” The video for this song is actually available now online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_3mNCaJgNM. So audiences can check out the song’s pure immensity in the combination of its music and vocals.
The title track to Out of the Black makes quite the first impression for Royal Blood on this release. But Kerr and Thatcher don’t rest easily on their laurels. The pair steps things up even more as it transitions into the EP’s second song, ‘Little Monster.’ This song is another impressive addition to OOTB not just because of the song’s power and energy, but also because it has a certain swagger mixed into the song’s overall feel. That swagger works just as well with the song’s overall sludge rock feel as it does with the song’s lyrics. Audiences will be able to hear that as Kerr sings, “I got love on my fingers/Lust on my tongue/You say you got nothing/So come out and get some/Heartache to heartache/I’m your wolf/I’m your man/I say run little monster/Before you know who I am.” Even more interesting in this song is the New Jack Swing beat of sorts played by Thatcher against the harder edged sound of Kerr’s playing. Somehow, the two parts meld together although one wouldn’t generally think that they would. As with the EP’s opener, this song also has a companion video that can be viewed online now. So audiences can hear the song and hear that massive sound for themselves when they check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ere2Mstl8ww.
As if the seemingly untamed energy generated by ‘Out of the Black’ and ‘Little Monster’ wasn’t enough for audiences, Kerr and Thatcher keep things moving on the EP’s third song, ‘Come on Over.’ This song is another full on piece that is sure to impress listeners. Kerr sings on this song, “Let’s run away/Get out of here/I got no money/And I don’t care/This ain’t my house/This ain’t your home/Not when I’m feeling this alone.” This is an interesting chorus, lyrically speaking. It seems to reflect a certain negative energy felt by perhaps a broken home of sorts. One wonders even more about this as Kerr sings later in the song, “I’m on a train going nowhere/I ran away to make you care/This ain’t my house/This ain’t your home/Not when I’m feeling this alone.” If this is one of those standard songs of self-denial and doubt, the musical side of the song doesn’t reflect that vibe. Hearing lyrics like those noted here, one would expect a musical side from the likes of Breaking Benjamin, Staind or others. But instead , the song’s musical side presents more of a self-determined vibe. It makes for quite the contradiction. And that contradiction makes the song all the more interesting. Audiences can check out an in-studio performance of this song online now at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlSAjp-XaTo. So as with the previously noted songs, audiences can hear this song for themselves and heard that musical contradiction of moods that makes it yet another welcome addition to OOTB.
‘Hole’ the final piece on Royal Blood’s new EP bears much the same contradiction as ‘Come on Over.’ Yet what’s truly interesting about this piece is not so much the contradiction of the music and lyrics, but the musicianship of Kerr and Thatcher. Kerr’s ability to take a bass guitar and make it sound just like a standard guitar is incredible. Typically when one thinks of a bass player, one thinks of a figure slightly out of the limelight that essentially keeps time with the drummer. Kerr has broken that mold here. The things that he does with his instrument are simply incredible. Thatcher adds even more power to the song with his ability to mix some tough polyrhythmic patterns with straight forward time keeping all while balancing the two makes the song even better. Listeners can hear this musicianship for themselves when they check out an in-studio performance of this one online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkhQmzJ_qnk.
Whether it be for ‘Hole’, ‘Come On Over’ ‘Little Monster’ or Out of the Black’s title track, or even for all four of the songs, this EP is far more than deserving of being called one of the year’s best new EPs if not the best new EP of 2014. Audiences will agree with that sentiment when they order the duo’s new EP for themselves and after hearing the songs online. Out of the Black can be downloaded now via iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/out-of-the-black-ep/id834515548?wmgref=http%3A%2F%2Fl.facebook.com%2Fl.php%3Fu%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fsmarturl.it%252FiRoyalBlood%26h%3D2AQHetLsO%26s%3D1&ign-mpt=uo%3D4. Fans in Bourges, France will be able to hear Royal Blood’s new music live when it performs at Printemps this Thursday, April 24th. From there, the duo will play a handful of dates before coming to the U.S. for three dates before heading back to Europe to finish off its Summer tour. Fans can keep up with Royal Blood’s most current tour dates and news online at http://www.facebook.com/RoyalBloodUK.
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