Rebuilding the Mountain

rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Drag Me
02. The Knife
03. Now Here-No Where
04. Twice
05. Pull
06. Live To Live
07. My Ten
08. Fade
09. The King
10. Dead Star

ROYAL THUNDER are back with their first album in six years, "Rebuilding the Mountain", and they sound as cohesive and tight as ever. After taking an extended hiatus, or perhaps breakup is a more accurate term, the group is back with vocalist/bassist Mlny Parsonz, guitarist Josh Weaver and drummer Evan Diprima. It's an extra special time for Diprima, who returned to ROYAL THUNDER after leaving the band in 2018.

"Rebuilding the Mountain" kicks off with the longest song of the set, the 5-plus minute "Drag Me". Parsonz's low-key vocals sound beautifully vulnerable in the song's intro, drawing the listener in. "Drag Me" is a somber-sounding tale, with dark chords and slow rhythms. Even though it picks up along the way, the song retains its delicate nature.

One thing that makes Parsonz such a talented vocalist is her versatility. If you compare "Drag Me" to the following track, "The Knife", that trait really shows. The latter sees Parsonz letting lose and raging with powerful, swinging vocal lines, a 180 from the opening track. "The Knife" has a real Janis Joplin or even THE DOORS vibe with its pure psychedelic rock.

As the album progresses, the songs get bigger and more intense. "Now Here-No Where" sets off with Parsonz's loud, angsty vocals and then kicks into a deep groove with noise-rock guitars and pounding rhythms. The chorus plays almost like a chant, with Parsonz's choppy, shout-y vocal delivery.

ROYAL THUNDER may be best known for their loud, big hard rock, but what's really refreshing is how "Rebuilding the Mountain" highlights Parsonz's vulnerable side. It's very endearing. For example, the introduction to "Live to Live" is one of the strongest passages on the set. Parsonz's clear, glistening soprano hugs demure guitars, and it's simply stunning.

"Fade" is another standout, and it's obvious why they made it a single. Here, Parsonz croons about being in a relationship with someone who is manipulative and abusive and the emotional and physical toll it can take. When the relationship is over, she finds herself depleted and feels as if the other person took something from her.

"Rebuilding the Mountain" represents a new phase for ROYAL THUNDER, one that has the band writing some of the strongest material of their careers. Maybe the break was a necessary evil. Maybe it made them realize what they were missing in each other. Regardless, "Rebuilding the Mountain" makes a statement that ROYAL THUNDER are back for the long haul.

Author: Anne Erickson
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