With their self-titled debut, Royal Talons unleash a slow, heavy and sustained metal assault. The band – which includes members of Skeleton Of God and Turambar – is influenced by the likes of Electric Wizard (think “Dopethrone”), Earth and Black Sabbath. Call it doom, call it sludge or stoner, this is fiercely heavy music in the grand tradition, with enough embellishments and individuality to allow it stand securely in its own right.
The worry for the uninitiated or the unfamiliar, of course, is that music whose emphasis is on ‘heavy’ and ‘slow’, and which uses devices like the repetition of themes, might end up being a bit, well, samey. In reality, Royal Talons offer enough variation – in tone, dynamics and lyrical content – to ensure the listener stays right to the final, slab-like chord. There are no super-fast guitar solos or mercurial flights of fancy here; but the changes – when they come – are all the more striking given the musical structure in which they happen.
They also help to add tension and release in quite a unique way: “The Scroll”, for example, begins with a less distorted, almost ‘unplugged’ kind of sound, building climatically to the point where the heavy onslaught really begins. The use of subtler tones is used elsewhere too – the mid section of “D-Day Spell” springs to mind – while at the same time still following the overall template of slow and heavy. Make no mistake, this is a very heavy album; dynamics would be nothing without the steamroller of sound that Royal Talons produce.
Subject matter ranges from the summoning of demons to futuristic robotic imagery, each song a vision into a suitably other-worldly landscape. The vocals themselves move between conventionally sung melodic lines to a more extreme, throaty style that complements the nature of the instrumentation.
For anyone new to the dark, brooding world of doom metal, this would be a great place to start. Aficionados, on the other hand, will appreciate the brutal nature of the five tracks here, and it will almost certainly become an iPod favourite. For a first release, Royal Talons have produced a fine piece of work that promises much for the future.