Royal Blood - Back To The Water Below album art

Royal Blood – Back To The Water Below (Album Review)

Royal Blood 2023 band - Mike Kerry, Ben Thatcher

Standing out, Royal Blood are a Rock act doing things a bit differently. Configured simply as a duo – Mike Kerr – (vocals, bass guitar, keyboards, piano) and Ben Thatcher (drums, percussion, piano) – they create a sound much larger. Absent traditional rhythm guitars, interestingly, Kerr utilizes various effects pedals and amplifiers to make his bass guitar sound like an electric guitar, as well as bass guitar, all at the same time. Something that surprisingly adds a depth to their music, tracks like 2013’s “Out of the Black” grabbed them plenty of mainstream attention, resulting in their 2014 debut album charting highly around the globe.

Since then, Royal Blood have consistently developed their style; as heard on 2017’s How Did We Get So Dark (featuring more Blues elements), but also 2021’s Typhoons (dubbed by some their best to date, with more electronic tones). At this point offering three very different albums over the last decade, in 2023 they showcase even more growth with their latest, Back To The Water Below.

Released on September 1st through Warner Records, the latest effort marks their fourth studio album and first completely self-produced by Kerr and Thatcher alone. Important to point out, Royal Blood is something heavily driven on the dynamics of their sound. That stated, what the duo bring is a collection of songs heavily rooted in a raw Rock-n-Roll sound. This means you get a thick tone, but also a plausible atmosphere in spots with delicate textures as well. An interesting balance, what is even more impressive is the diversity they offer in ten songs that lasts just over thirty minutes. In terms of any album’s run-time, this is rather short, but somehow Kerr and Thatcher pack a whole lot in.

Really a wall to wall set of quality music, early singles such as “Mountains At Midnight” and “Pull Me Through” really exemplify what Royal Blood intend to do with Back to the Water Below. What is that you ask? It presents gritty Rock tunes, matched with more Beatlesque ballads all in one package. That said, on the raunchier Rock end you have standouts that include “Shiner in the Dark,” “Tell Me When It’s Too Late” and “High Waters”; all have bulky chest beating riffs. 

Then on the other end, highlights include “The Firing Line,” “There Goes My Cool,” and “Waves.” These songs display a more Alternative Rock side of Royal Blood akin to something that had been created during the ‘90s era, transcending into the early 2000s. Furthermore, as mentioned, you can not help but hear a Beatles influence amidst these types of tracks which have harmony, catchiness, and mellow vibes.

Overall, Back To The Water Below is a delightful two-faced record with enough balance to please a broad audience. It rocks when it needs to rock hard, but it also calms you down when necessary. Ultimately Royal Blood have created what the modern music world needs… and that is a Rock album that understands just how the human spirit works. In recent times, it often feels as if newer releases are either repeatedly beating you over the heads with loudness, or instead, lulling you to sleep. This album does none of the above, making it refreshing and highly recommended. That is why Cryptic Rock gives Back To The Water Below 4.5 out of 5 stars. 

Royal Blood - Back To The Water Below album artwork
Royal Blood – Back To The Water Below / Warner Bros. (2023)

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