By Mike Delano
It’s always a satisfying feeling when a band delivers on the promise of their early output. For bands without a fully formed sound at the beginning of their lifespan, many of them fail to expand upon the interesting ideas of their debut on subsequent releases, whether due to business, personal, artistic, or a host of other reasons. I heard a ton of potential in Royal Thunder‘s self-titled EP last year, but it was unclear exactly where the Atlanta band would take their smoky, sexy take on Southern doom. All that potential has been fully realized on CVI. Bassist/vocalist Mlny Parsonz’s incredible voice was the highlight of the EP, and she gives a roaring performance on this album (if she doesn’t have you hooked by the end of “Parsonz Curse,” there’s no hope for you). Whether navigating the uneasy rhythms of epic doom track “Shake and Shift” or lightening the mood with the straightforward rock of “No Good,” she’s a mesmerizing presence on the record. The rest of the band steps into the spotlight as well, crafting amazing soundscapes like the swirling “Blue,” an expertly constructed Sonic Youth-style slow burner, and the riff-fueled “Whispering World.” The first half of CVI is so toweringly effective that it’s impossible for the second half – kicked off with a repeat song from their EP – to burn as bright, so the 60+ minute run time ends up being a little too much of a good thing. That’s a pretty desirable problem for any album to have, though, and Royal Thunder have definitely crafted one of the best albums of 2012.