The devil went down to Georgia and apparently opened up a bitchin' record shop. How else to explain the consistently astounding pedigree of the Peach State's heavy music scene over the past decade? Sidling on up to the bar with their debut full-length "CVI," Atlanta four-piece Royal Thunder serve to remind that even in a land of seasoned heavyweights, the crown of critical adulation can be easily snatched by new blood with a bad attitude.
Led by lead banshee and bassist Mlny Parsonz, Royal Thunder deliver an electrifying and surprisingly accessible melange of heavy stylings, which Parsonz has been known to call "post-apocalyptic blues."
It's an apt description. At times spacey, dark, rampaging and sultry, Royal Thunder regularly confound expectations of a traditional metal band. Parsonz's scorching wails hold the center of the band, while the dual guitars of Josh Weaver (who is also married to Parsonz) and Josh Coleman tangle with Lee Smith's drums, invoking Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin with a bit more snarl. The recipe is right, and they have been covered by outlets ranging from the Village Voice to NPR.
Lest their metal cred be so besmirched, though, Royal Thunder are signed to Relapse Records, a seminal metal label. It's hard to find a more protective and insular scene than metal, but Parsonz doesn't shy away: "We've shared bills with bands like Behemoth. I don't really think the crowd cares if you come from a different direction, as long as you really lay into the set."
And, despite the somewhat recent spate of excellent female-fronted metal groups, Parsonz is no Janey-Come-Lately. A native New Jerseyian, she's been cutting her teeth as an "iron maiden" since middle school, where she copped her moves from the likes of Skid Row's Sebastian Bach.
"I danced when I was a kid," Parsonz confides, "but I would turn red when people would watch me."
Now she turns red for a different reason: from screaming.
Plus, she seems to like playing hard rock much better than dancing.
"With music," she says, "I could put something between me and them."
Parsonz explains how she preserves her screaming voice while touring: “I usually don’t talk all day before a show. Sometimes there’s nothing in there until I hit the stage, but at that point, I can let the adrenaline sing for me.”
If you go
with Enslaved, Pallbearer, Ancient VVisdom, A Life Once Lost and Sunburster
Wednesday, Jan. 30
1200 Callowhill Street $16
with Enslaved, Pallbearer, Ancient VVisdom
52 Church St., Cambridge