"How Did We Get So Dark?" By Royal Blood
Hard Rock/Released June 16, 2017
British rockers Royal Blood had a swift rise to fame off of their 2014 self titled debut album. Powered by singles such as “Out Of The Black” and “Figure It Out” the record reached top ten positions in numerous countries and made the duo a household name much more quickly than normal in today’s rock world. After the whirlwind of touring and praise for Royal Blood’s debut, the question arose of whether or not the band could strike gold again with their follow up. Well the time to prove themselves has come with the release of their sophomore effort How Did We Get So Dark?
On the band’s first album Royal Blood held a strict rule of keeping the recording authentic with no overdubbing and no extra instrumentation that the band didn’t use live. This approach paid off with the album sounding raw and gritty despite being well produced. With HDWGSD however the band is apparently more open to adding extra elements with overdubbed backing vocals being very prominent throughout the record as well as moments of piano on songs such as “Hole In Your Heart”.
Another difference with the new record is the songwriting. A trademark of the band’s sound is the old school, hard rock method of writing songs around distinct, central riffs. While that method is still found on tracks such as “Where Are You Now” and “Hook, Line & Sinker” a bigger focus is put on more modern rock songwriting. With varying degrees of success.
While the band displays that they don’t need the flashiest riffs to make a good song with tracks like “Sleep” and “Lights Out” mid album efforts such as “She’s Creeping” and “Look Like You Know” create a bit of a lull in the record. Regardless it’s still good to see that the band is trying to take steps in expanding on how they write songs.
Royal Blood is still at their strongest when they use mammoth riffs as a song’s anchor. “Hook, Line & Sinker” will have listeners air-guitaring for a long while and the groove of “Lights Out” will make you dance as well as bang your head. The track also displays Mike Kerr’s talent for being able to write a solo without need for a second guitar to hold down the rhythm. The duo’s influences are very apparent on songs like the title track which sounds like it was ripped right out of Queens Of The Stone Age catalog. And “Where Are You Now?” bears an uncanny resemblance to Black Sabbath’s “Children Of The Grave”. Neither of these are a bad thing.
With How Did We Get So Dark? Royal Blood has managed to avoid the sophomore slump and expand on their range of songwriting albeit with some growing pains. The band isn’t reinventing the wheel with this record and didn’t surpass their debut. But the album is still strong with fans of the first record having plenty to enjoy on the new one. A solid effort all around with plenty of bass heavy bangers to keep rock fans entertained.