Royal Blood - Royal Blood (Warner Bros)

Royal Blood – Royal Blood (Warner Bros)

royalbloodroyalblood ‘ROYAL BLOOD ARE HERE TO SAVE ROCK MUSIC IN 2014!’ extol increasingly feverish, desperate publications, while Gaza burns, Nato chows down in a militarized zone of Cardiff,  and the music industry collapses from within. But are they the saviours like The Vaccines were the saviours? Or how about Kasabian; are they like them? The Datsuns? Or maybe Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong? You know the SAVIOURS?! And just who does Rock need saving from? Is it in mortal peril? Or quite happily chewing over its ever more reheated remains?

From the sound of heavy-handed Brighton-based drums and bass duo Royal Blood, it needs saving from posh pub bands, pumped up on over production and big bluesy riffs. No amount of which can disguise the fact that these songs are under written, lightweight and utterly mundane. Being a two-piece rock band isn’t new and certainly isn’t original and this the kind of hoary old nonsense that we thought we’d seen the back of in the late 1980s. How come this particular pub band has been plucked from obscurity and given a platform?

“I made this huge bass sound and we kind of laughed at first and thought, ‘What if we could do this? What if we could be a two-piece and sound like a four-piece and be a rock band?’” singer/bassist Mike Kerr said of the band’s early beginnings. “I kinda feel like rock’s really the only thing I’ve done,” Kerr added. “Every time I’ve gone to write a song, it’s just always come out that way.” And boy, does it sound like it.

Royal Blood have one gear and it’s straight ahead, moronic, riff-rock with all the subtlety of Alex Salmond. Take recent single ‘Figure It Out’: for all its ‘pile driving’ drumming, bass berating and guitar posturing, it’s the sound of the White Stripes in a stupor. Whilst babbling vocals claim the affirmation of success, no spit-and-shine production job can mask the lack of individuality and subtlety that makes Royal Blood one trick ponies at best. Second track ‘Come on Over’ might be emblazoned with an explicit swearing warning but it’s about as threatening and offensive as Peppa Pig: an unremarkable chugger laced with the agnostic lyrics ‘there’s no God and I don’t really care’ that threatens menace but falls flat on its face. That is the choking sound of a neutered Nirvana tribute act. ‘Little Monster’ is quite frankly Muse by numbers; supine Matt Bellamy-esque verses giving way to Thatcher’s tumbling drums and strangled riffs, it’s pedestrian at best and a parody at worst.  The plodding kick drum sound of ‘Loose Change’ is the work of a band trying desperately to be metal with all the relevant clichés present and correct – the AC/DC riff, the nursery rhyme vocals – but it’s all rather lacking in the required ampage, guts and well experience to truly get heads moshing. Only the mild fury of the Kyuss-aping kiss off ‘Out of the Black’ offers any kind of hope that there’s more to Royal Blood than this.

Retromania speaks of culture’s fascination with the past, an inability to evolve, to move forward. Royal Blood are yet another example of a group thrust into the mainstream that lack the ability to see beyond their record collections (containing Status Quo, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin et al, no doubt). A band who claim that they were born to rock and have a good time and create simple meat-and-potato songs that they hope will make them pop. But each one comes off as contrived and cynical, like all the best parts of the Queens of the Stone Age or Death from Above with all the edges smoothed off and the bollocks removed and the dirt scrubbed from under their finger nails they actually sound like two young blokes from any pub on any Friday evening hammering out pub rock bollocks with a big production budget.

They may have acted all bashful when this new record ‘stormed’ to number one in the album charts last week, but the truth is that privileged duo Royal Blood are an act carefully crafted and designed by a target market (with the helping hand of their label) for mass consumption and hyped up way beyond their station, while hundreds of artists who have eminently more worth scrabble around for their next meal, their next lift to a gig, their next recording session. That’s what’s so heartbreaking about the success of Royal Blood and their kind, they simply aren’t worthy of any of this. Utterly moribund. Royally shite.

Royal Blood’s eponymous début album was released on 25th August 2014 through Warner Bros Records

  1. hehe, bad tempered backlash, in fact assisting their publicity machine (Royal Blood PR man: ‘oh well, Pitchfork and GIITTV hate anything successful, so we must be doing something right’ blah blah etc). Loved the piece

  2. Parker, you acted like a complete prick on here a few months ago so just fuck off. Good or bad, no-one cares what you fucking think. I repeat in case your addiction to attention is affecting your comprehension: Just. Fuck. Off.

    Good piece, Bill.

  3. Well this popped up in my feed and I have to say this is an awful review Bill, not so much a review as outright musical snobbery tbh, much like your Courteeners review was. Such a shame this site tries to be a poor mans Pitchfork as there are some talented reviewers present

    1. Snobbery?Or I just didn’t like an album by a band. They are a watered down, regressive version of much better bands, hyped up by ‘real music’ types. It’s my opinion I am no snob, I don’t judge things by genre, but music on its merits and offer my subjective opinion. If you are upset by negative reviews then I suggest Q magazine.

      1. Funny how people only criticise writing when they disagree with it. Just because you disagree with a review doesn’t mean it’s badly written. For the record I think it’s a great review because Bill’s frothing rage at how a band as shit as this can get so much coverage just leaps out of the screen. Baffles me how personally some people take bad reviews.

  4. Bill, if you knew the first thing about musical composition then you would know how amazing a sound that band gets with just 2 people, all your obvious and somewhat lazy reference points like Quo, Zep and Sabbath had 4 or 5 people in the band, and none of these bands sound like Royal Blood, for me its a snobbish review, if Royal Blood played to 3 people down the dog and arsehole like most the shite this site praises you would have give it 4/5. I’m no major fan of this band btw, but I am a fan of educated perspective, of which you have none

    1. Thanks for calling me an arsehole because I didn’t like a band. As for not knowing about musical composition who is the snob now?And is musical enjoyment solely based on technical composition?

      Also you entirely missed the point, Royal Blood are utterly unremarkable yet were hailed as rock n roll saviours in 2014. It matters not the level of the venues they play or the records they sell. I’ve seen much better bands in pubs actually in tiny venues the question was. ‘How come this particular pub band has been plucked from obscurity and given a platform?’ Because all I hear is over produced lunkheaded rawknroll at its most clichéd. But you are entitled to disagree.

  5. They aren’t a pub band your entire review misses the point spectacularly, the only band to ever make a sound like that with 2 people are the White Stripes and Jack White is a genius musician, Royal Blood are as far removed from a pub band as its possible to be. You might fancy yourself as a Lester Bangs, Everett True or even me, Bill. But at end of the day you are writing for a 2 bit website too tight to pay its writers so its hardly educated perspective you offer, Q magazine is far more informed BTW, you’ll be telling me you prefer 6 music to Radio X next, ah that reminds me…

    1. There are plenty of duos who make more interesting sounds than RB. Comparisons are about how the music sounds not how many members are in a band. I’m sure if you read that corporate organ they use plenty. They can sound like a pub band because they are utterly undisguishable from one, there are good pub bands but they aren’t one or special enough to warrant being the saviours of anything. Anyway have a good day I’m sure we can agree to disagree without getting personal, well at least I can.

      PS don’t write for this two bit website I founded it.

  6. Yes’ I’m aware you own it. Sorry if you think I’m getting personal I’m just stating the truth as I see it, nobody is beyond criticism, nobody is always correct
    Yes there are bands like Royal Blood, Slaves for example, but they are bloody awful, its just tubthumping and shouting, at least Royal Blood have songs you can hear the melody and song structure him, admittedly their second album doesn’t build on the first or do anything different, but the debut deserves far more than 1/5 Bill for the musicianship alone. Pub bands are the likes of Dr Feel good and Eddie And The Hotrods, I’ve yet to see a band who can make a noise like Royal Blood with 2 people, it must be some pub you frequent

  7. I realise this is 5 years after the fact


    Death From Above 1979

    Literally a drums and bass 2 piece making sexually charged rock music over a decade BEFORE Royal Blood.

    Lightning Bolt

    Also a drums and bass 2 piece making very loud noise rock using Octave pedals and bi amping over a decade BEFORE Royal Blood.

    Oh, and Jack White “borrowed” the Detroit Blues 2 piece thing from The Flat Duo Jets. Always freely admitted it too… so before you call out someone for a lack of knowledge make sure you’re not on shaky ground.

    RB Always struck me as a poor imitation of QOTSA’s more mainstream work anyway, the woahs, the structures and even the vocal affectation in places.

    They are not original, or dangerous or anything like that, they were a well funded, privileged couple of white guys with connections who’s arrogance and poor attitude has now come to light

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God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.