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  • Writer's pictureNikki Smash

Royal Blood drop emphatic new record "Back To The Water Below" Is it their best record? If so why?

Brighton riff rock duo Royal Blood have released their highly anticipated new record 'Back To The Water Below' and we at Riff Yard Media not only think it's a return to form but could it be their best record yet?

Royal Blood are a band that have a very distinct sound from the drums, bass tones, Mike's vocal and songwriting style. So what's the story so far? Being a duo you're pretty limited in what you can recreate live without a large abundance of technology helping you out (absolutely nothing wrong with that btw and yes, I'm looking at the ageing rockers like Sebastian Bach).

The first record was such a sonic assault on the radio. For me, it felt like a small movement "Rock is back!!" (well you can't kill rock and it doesn't ever go away.... more on that one a bit later featuring in our YouTube & Rumble channel!). Rock was back in the mainstream which in the UK means the overlords at Radio1 actually played something other than Beyonce or Lady Gaga during the day, super rad. The impact it had globally was something amazing to witness, especially as at the time when I was living where Mike & Ben were from and having mutual friends in Graces Collide's bassist Jurgan (who Mike actually cites as an influence interestingly enough) and #bassbrosforlife, a band who wasn't a singer-songwriter or indie band breaking through from the south coast and flying the flag properly from Brighton. The question on everyone's lips with 'How Did We Get So Dark' was could this back up their astonishing debut album? Man, they smashed it out the park. Bigger songs, incredible production, dark-brooding videos - it was brilliant and they did it without losing their core sound which is amazing as it was incredibly refreshing to hear genuine progression without a record company bastardising an artist into the ground. So enter the third record 'Typhoons'. Now I'm always wanting to hear artists push themselves; grow and explore, being brave and fearless in writing, trying something different. Some artists manage to pull it off and others just don't for whatever reason. Foo Fighters have seemingly lost their way in the last few years and have got stuck down a rabbit hole with a few 4 chord songs that if a band started out playing them in a club no-one would bat an eyelid. Royal Blood tried something different but in my humble opinion changed too much in a wrong direction with the overproduced pop-rock-disco thing and it felt rushed and compromised. Was it a pressure thing? Record label intervention? Either way it just wasn't a good record at all, however I'll always commend an artist for trying and even more so when they kind of admit it didn't work and go back to the riffing board.

Here we are today, nearly a decade on from the first record, and we have their next offering 'Back To The Water Below' and let me tell you something, this is their best record by a mile and that is saying something! Mike & Ben have levelled up in a way I didn't know they would have the balls to do and the outcome is a tenacious, ferocity of a journey. They've broken the shackles of being a dynamic duo and have incorporated fabulous instrumentation along with more great playing individually. Lyrically I can hear that intent, that venom from Mike again and the nailed on production to match their ideas behind the songs and it's culminated into their best record to date. Mike and Ben sound creatively and musically free which is something I love. Many think they already do but they can't because it's extremely hard to let yourself go especially on the level of Royal Blood.

There are influences from the likes of Queens of the Stone Age to The Beatles, I hear some Supergrass in the vocals in places and Radiohead in the brave songwriting especially with the use of guitars and effects, piano and strings.

Highlights include 'Pull Me Through', 'The Firing Line', 'Waves', & 'Tell Me When It's Too Late'. Well, just treat yourself and listen to whole record from start to finish; it's only 31mins long and every song is telling a chapter of the story!

'Back To The Water Below' has cemented Royal Blood as one of the world's best rock acts. Mike is a premier songwriter and where others have failed and fallen, Royal Blood have deservedly risen to the level of rock 'n roll royalty. Huge congratulations to Mike and Ben and hope they enjoy the success from this brilliant record that they deserve!

Nikki Smash

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