I’m not sure what it is about Tampere in Finland right now, maybe it’s something in the water, who knows.Maybe it’s been laced with some super strong, metal infused rum, or possibly some form of digestible napalm, but one thing is for sure, it’s putting out some real kick ass bands at this point in time, heavy as you like, and face meltingto boot.
Alongside the likes of new boys on the block Rückwater, who’ve recently released a killer debut, and now steam rolling their way into your lives, get ready for Black Royal, the gargantuan riff monsters, heading your way with their second album Firebride.
If you were to write down a check list for what you want from your old school heavy metal bands, I’m sure it would be likely to include pounding drums, driving bass, insane guitar work, and hate filled, guttural vocals. Well, with Black Royal, you can consider all those bases checked, as they’ve covered all of them in the best way possible.
Black Royal are a four-piece, old school metal band, comprising of all the required elements to fulfill all of your wildest dreams. Jukka and Pete provide the backline, in drums and bass respectively, while Toni provides ample riffage to keep you satisfied long beyond the end of the album. Add to that Riku on vocal duty, and you have just exactly everything you need for the perfect sludgy doom fest to assault your eardrums with.
Firebride is the quartets second full length outing, it is the follow up to the debut opus Lightbringer, and it feels more like a stripped back version of themselves then we heard previously.
To anyone unaware of the band, it wouldn’t be far off to compare them with early Entombed, pre Wolverine Blues, the Left Hand Path and Clandestine days, when they had a more death metal leaning. You could even draw comparison with My Dying Bride somewhat, but more with the fast paced side, and less with the slow doomy side.
That being said, there are also elements of Mastodon here, Leviathan era, especially on tracks like Gods Of War. Black Royal capture expertly that heavy, persistent throat punching feeling, but it’s the far dirtier vocal that sets them apart, and for the whole album, this treatment remains. It doesn’t really ever drop in intensity, except for track five, 313, which is the only respite on the whole album. It’s one minute twenty six seconds of acoustic instrumental, which gives us a chance to recompose ourselves, before Gods Of War kicks in, literally, like a size ten to the chest.
Gods Of War kicks in, literally, like a size ten to the chest…
Title track, and one of my favourites, Firebride, is as crushing as anything Sepultura could hit us with, and at times I could swear its Derrick Green on vocals. With its driving bass, right from the offset, and brutal breakneck drumming, it’s like an old school thrash onslaught, which also has a doom flavour, to produce a bastard offspring suitable for Satan himself.
At times it feels a bit grind core too, and Heartwork era Carcass definitely springs to mind, especially on The Reverend, but again it’s far more evolved, even if it does cover that whole old school vibe.We talk about ‘old school’, and it makes it sound like it’s dated, and usually a bit naff compared with today’s standards, but with this I firmly believe that its soul is firmly rooted In that classic style. It does the band no harm, they still feel current, and Black Royal can definitely hold their own amongst the best of the new crop of bands emerging.
My other personal highlight, All Them Witches, really grabs me, for in amongst all of the pounding soundtrack, and guttural growls, I can’t help but feel likeI’m listening to some early The Gathering, or even At the Gates. As a massive The Gathering fan, I never make this comparison lightly, and if I didn’t feel it was worthy, I wouldn’t drop my favourites into the discussion at all.
All in all, it’s the whole old school feel that grabs me with this album, the nineteen-year-old me would have played this every day, for hours on end, annoying the neighbours by the sheer volume I would have pumped it out at. I have to say, the angry young man in me would have championed Black Royal as the next big thing, and tried to impress them on anyone who I would have come in to contact with, which I guess is what I’m doing here.
Ultimately Firebride is an all-out aural assault, in the best way possible, its dark, and its doomy, it mentions Satan plenty of times throughout to be as antisocial as it can be, and for something to blast out to blow the cobwebs away, you could do a lot worse than invest in this album. It isn’t for the faint hearted, and if you long for something deep and ambient, you probably need to avoid this monster at all costs, because it’s not going to stop until it has destroyed you completely.
Scribed by: Lee Beamish