BlackRoyalComing out of Tampere, Finland, Black Royal are a touch different to the cavalcade of bands that are usually associated with this location. The emphasis is right royally peppered in bleak harsh stoner inspiration, with a splash of youthful angst, especially from the vocals. Having being recorded late last summer, this is the band’s first studio outing.

The first couple of tunes ‘Black Royal’ and ‘Destination: Threshold’ both scream late 90’s Cathedral groove with more angry vocals, in line with Kylesa and High on Fire rather than the sickening pure sludge of a typical NOLA type band. The pattern is simple, although I am not convinced that the angst ridden vocal style suits some of the arrangements, as they are a touch laid back and summer sun feeling, rather than pound your face into the dust as expressed by Riku’s fine style (there’s nothing wrong with this style, there are even some nice moments of vocal harmony included also!), it just may not gel perfectly. This kind of makes sense with the PR material highlighting the writing and recording as being spontaneous as there are many ideas collided at once upon one track or more over the entire release. When you get to the banjo intro to ‘Contagion Accident’ they gain my attention, there’s something oddball here, although it concludes to just be an intro and outro to the said track, the meat on the bones itself is another festering monster, which is something that’s rather comforting. Closing with ‘Reformation’ I feel the stressful drive to my destination complete with this accompanying soundtrack.

The juggernaut groove and chug varying between death n roll and stoner sludge is musically entertaining and works really well. Although, likeable as this is, as good as it is, I am not convinced the vocals go hand in hand with the music, but then plenty will feel differently I am sure as there are a few bands employing this tactic.

(7/10 Paul Maddison)