Royal Blood

Out of the Black EP

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Collecting the A- and B-sides of Royal Blood's first two singles, Out of the Black reveals why the Brighton, England duo were part of the BBC Sound of 2014 list. Over the course of these tracks, Ben Thatcher and Mike Kerr pay homage to rock's greats but never sound too slavishly indebted to them. "Out of the Black"'s seething riffs and wailing vocals nod to the White Stripes, but the surprising heft behind them also recalls the Arctic Monkeys and Muse's loudest rockers. The duo showcases that heaviness on "Hole," a piece of dive-bombing Led Zeppelin worship, and "Little Monster," where the crunchy guitars and Kerr's alternately subdued and explosive singing recall the point in the '90s when grunge gave way to alt-metal. Meanwhile, the low-slung "Come on Over" recalls Queens of the Stone Age at their sleekest and rivals either of the A-sides in terms of quality and personality. Out of the Black reflects that Kerr and Thatcher are still developing a sound that's unmistakably theirs, but at the very least it showcases their potential -- and delivers a resounding retort to anyone who thinks straight-ahead rock is dead in the 2010s.

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