It’s hard to write an album that can truly be classified as timeless. Everything has to fall into place perfectly for a band to craft a collective piece of music that will endure the test of time: songwriting, musicianship, life circumstances and most of all, emotions. If the stars align and all of these elements are just right, only then does the album have the potential to be something special. These albums don’t come along very often, but when they do, they’re hard to miss. It’s as if the moment the very first note of music plays, you’re hit with an overwhelming sense of joy and you feel like you already know the whole thing by heart. This is exactly what it feels like listening to Crooked Doors, the sophomore album from Atlanta, Georgia’s Royal Thunder.
Bluesy, uplifting and downright unforgettable, Crooked Doors showcases everything that makes Royal Thunder such an adept and talented young band who, only two albums into their career, write songs that rival those of some of the greats and is led by one of the greatest vocalists in recent memory. Not to discredit the other members of Royal Thunder, who are extremely talented in their own right, but frontwoman Mlny Parsonzes is a special kind of musician, the kind that music journalists and historians will still be writing about and swooning over 50 years from now. Not only is she a killer bass player, she also brings a fiery passion and attitude to the table which separates her from other modern-day female rockers, and her voice…oh good God, her voice. It’ll make any man weak at the knees, and goosebumps rise at the sound of it.
The aptly titled “Time Machine” opens the album and serves as just that, harkening the listener back to the glory days of rock n’ roll when bands like Zeppelin ruled the world, but also acting as a window of sorts into the grunge movement of the ’90s. The darkly uplifting melodies played by guitarists Josh Weaver and Will Fiore carry the song and create a variety of different moods throughout it’s course, which are punctuated perfectly by Mlny’s staggering vocals. It’s followed by “Forget You,” which plods along with a subdued Sabbathian groove courtesy of drummer Evan Diprima and once again features a memorable vocal performance from Parsonz, complete with a totally badass sing-along moment when she repeatedly bellows “You better RUUUUUUUUN for your life” near the song’s end. Another real highlight of the album is “Glow,” which is easily the most upbeat and rockin’ cut from the album and features some its catchiest vocals.
Every song on Crooked Doors oozes with raw emotion, and how couldn’t it? After all, Crooked Doors is a chronicle of a lot of the emotional distress and turmoil Parsonz has been dealing with over the past several years, making this a deeply personal album. These sentiments can be felt in every note played and every lyric sung and it makes the album all the more powerful. It’s not even necessary to know what she’s talking about or get wrapped up in all of the gossip to know that this album was an outlet for Parsonz and the rest of the band, and provided a great deal of healing for them. Nowhere are these emotions more apparent than in the ballad “One Day.” This song is the culmination of the emotional weight of Crooked Doors as a whole and features a spacey, heart-tugging guitar solo as well as a heart-wrenching vocal performance by Parsonz, sung in a way only she could.
The bottom line is that Crooked Doors is a near-perfect album. The only misstep it makes lies in some of its weaker tracks like “Wake Up” and “Ear On the Fool,” but that’s only because all of the other songs are so good. The album closes on a contemplative note with “The Bear I & II,” a two-part suite that showcases the band’s softer side. It’d be a stretch to call Royal Thunder a metal band after releasing an album like Crooked Doors, but whatever they are, they’ve created a masterpiece that’s sure to endure the test of time and, like many other timeless classics, will be looked back upon with much reverence.
Royal Thunder’s Crooked Doors gets…