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Royal Thunder - Rebuilding the Mountain (Spinefarm)

16 June 2023

It’s always seemed to be an intense thing for Royal Thunder to make music – the band’s albums practically glow with vivid emotion and acute conviction. Perhaps that’s why the Atlanta rock trio broke up for a while after 2017’s culminative LP Wick – it was all just too much, and they needed a break. Fortunately, that hiatus has now ended, and the band comes roaring back with fourth album Rebuilding the Mountain. Zero in on “The Knife,” the second track here, and it’s clear the refresh worked: the band reclaim their fierce power without sounding like they’re going back to the well. All of Royal Thunder’s assets remains: the post-70s guitar hooks, the seething anthemic arrangements, frontperson Mlny Parsonz’ soul power wail. Indeed, if anything, they’ve only gotten better – more cutting, more robust, more committed. The way guitarist Josh Weaver fills the air with colorful riffs and fills that still serve the song, complemented by drummer Evan Diprima’s splashy kit work, provides the perfect foundation for bassist Parsonz to exorcise her demons and assert her right to live as she pleases. “Fade,” “Twice,” and “Live to Live” persuasively argue that rock & roll is still a viable, vibrant form of self-expression that doesn‘t need anyone’s permission to remain relevant. Rebuilding the Mountain proves that not only is rock not dead or even on life support, it’s not even taking a nap.