This is the third album from Finnish sludge metal band Black Royal.
We’ve met Black Royal before, on their 2016 EP The Summoning Pt.2, as well as their previous album Firebride, which made quite an impact. With a duration of 48 minutes Earthbound delivers meaty songs full of nutrient-dense tastiness.
Black Royal’s core of sludge metal is enriched with death metal heaviness and a stoner sensibility. This unusual combination is one of the reasons that I found the band’s sound so compelling upon my first encounter with then, and Earthbound simply takes their formula to the next level.
I like the band’s charismatic take on heavy music very much. These songs benefit from stoner groove and a song-based approach that delivers the goods. They also have enough elements of death metal in their sound to make you sit up and take notice, merging death and stoner metal influences into a soup of punishing sludge that’s simply a damn good listen. Imagine a mix of Orange Goblin, Entombed, Ilsa, Crowbar, and Motörhead, and you’ll be on the right lines.
Earthbound is a roaring riot of thick riffing, pummelling groove, death ‘n’ roll swagger, and punishing heaviness. Alongside this are airy atmospheric keyboards, exploratory psychedelia, and stoner rock accoutrements that add colour and depth. This is then topped off by vocals that range from caustic sludge screams to harsh shouts and outright growls. The singer has an unusual ability to shape his extremity into catchy rhythms and memorable choruses. Yes, Black Royal boast a very strong package.
Black Royal have once again impressed. Earthbound takes their increasingly individual sound to the logical extreme, and is the most perfect example of their crushing art so far in their existence.
Very highly recommended for any fan of heavy music.