Royal Thunder + Ancient VVisdom - The Highline, Seattle, USA, 11.2.2013

Event: Enslaved: North American Tour 2013
Written by: Susan
Published: 14.02.2013
Monday, February 11, 2013, saw Royal Thunder and Ancient VVisdom's North American tour come to The Highline in Seattle. They're currently supporting Pallbearer and Enslaved, and will continue their own touring through March. If you're in the US or Canada be sure to catch this perfectly intimate show from some incredibly dynamic bands.

I arrived early for a great interview with Royal Thunder, then made my way back into the club to meet a friend and enjoy the show. The Highline is just upstairs from street level, a small and intimate club. The food menu is excellent, and the staff includes two very kind bartenders with ass-length dreadlocks. Impressive.

Ancient VVisdom's stand-up drummer
The stage at The Highline is low, so combined with the nice layout and easy sightlines, they can produce one hell of a personal show. Ancient VVisdom was up first and already had a nice sized crowd nodding their heads to this atypical band. It was intense, mostly acoustic, almost darkly ritualistic music. Not quite a folk vibe. Hard to describe. Not metal, but intense like metal. They had one electric guitar and one acoustic guitar, which worked well together. Their drummer was the most interesting thing: he stood, had a bass drum, snare, floor tom, and 2 cymbals, and worked everything with mallets instead of sticks. Curious. Vocals were very well done, effective live, and had a very commanding tone and presence. My interest was piqued.

Mlny Parsonz of Royal Thunder

For being 5 dudes on a small stage, which was mostly full of the other bands' gear, they put on a strangely compelling show. I spoke with the bassist briefly after their set and aside from discussing the best vodkas from Austin, Texas, I asked how he'd describe Ancient VVisdom's sound. He said a local newspaper had referred to their mostly acoustic yet strangely metallic music as "Satan & Garfunkel." Brilliant.

My personal headliner was up next: Royal Thunder. About an hour earlier I had interviewed Josh Weaver (guitar) and Evan Diprima (drums) and I was so excited for the live show. Royal Thunder has been one of my top new bands of 2012 for so many reasons: their bluesy and soulful sound is some of the best I've heard in metal, and their vocalist (Mlny Parsonz) produces a smoky and powerful wail unmatched in contemporary music by any man or woman. I heard them refer to their own music as "post-apocalyptic blues" and I'm so on board with that. Blues, soul, rock, metal... whatever it is it's GREAT. Their unique sound is put to use through well-composed tunes and I was hoping the live experience would transcend the album. If that was even possible.

Well, it was. I had to distract myself long enough to take a few pictures but mostly got to just stand there and soak it all in. Again, not much room on stage to run around but when the music is this good it's not even necessary. Josh had just enough space on his side of the stage to groove pretty intensely, but overall the band's vibe was introspective and focused on the music. No banter in between songs, just a connection to the crowd through music. They were so into the music that it was easy to join them for the journey.

I was excited for Mlny Parsonz's incredible vocals but instead her insane bass playing is what really stunned me. Her fingers absolutely flew as she played complex chords instead of just tickling the top string as so many metal bass players are wont to do. Her playing was as remarkable as her vocals and didn't take a back seat for a second. Watching her hands was mesmerizing. But… still, those vocals. Here it was, half way through a tour, and she wasn't skimping. OK fans: you know that chorus part of "No Good" where you can't help but sing along? ("You're no good… You're NO NO GOOD!") She didn't take the lower harmonies like another vocalists would do on tour. She wasn't conserving her voice, protecting it like it was some delicate flower; hell no, she shouted out that melody and so did several of us in the growing crowd.

Josh Weaver of Royal Thunder

I couldn't tell how many fans they initially had in the audience versus how many people were just there for Enslaved, but they certainly had new fans by the end. After their set I approached my friend who was new to the band. I couldn't tell if she was into it or not since she just kind of stood there. I eagerly asked, "how did you like them?" She blinked, and responded that she'd been in kind of a trance the whole time since they were so amazing. Sounds about right.

It was sadly a 30 minute set which was only enough to whet my appetite. Several of us shouted for another song, knowing full well that this was impossible (The Highline had kindly posted set times at the bar). I definitely picked up a t-shirt and a hat to wear to the next gig, hopefully where they get a full set.

After stopping at the bar I tried to head back to the stage with my gin & tonic to see Pallbearer and hopefully get some more pictures. Not a chance. The crowd had really piled in during Royal Thunder and the club was continuing to fill. As much as Seattle already supports the arts, I was still surprised to see such a full crowd on a MONDAY night. Pallbearer played a solid set, filling the club with their wall of dreamy doom metal. By the end everyone was ready for Enslaved.

But not this metalhead. After having the beautiful experience of seeing Royal Thunder live, and with a very, very early morning ahead of me, I called it a night. Enslaved, we shall meet again.

Royal Thunder's CVI is nominated for two Metal Storm Awards: Best Sludge Album and Best Debut Album.


Written on 14.02.2013 by
Susan appreciates quality metal regardless of genre. Metal Storm Staff since 2006.
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Spirit Molecule - 14.02.2013 at 09:40  
Nice article. I've been following Royal Thunder after their CVI debut. I've been super impressed that Mlny can pull off those vocals live and play bass at the same time. If she even just played the normal one string plucked notes, it would still be awesome coz pulling those vocals off and just scratching your ass at the same time, takes effort
Hope I can catch them live someday.
PocketMetal - 14.02.2013 at 10:13  
Damn , I wish I could see this band live ... I almost cried at the part you described her vocals
Mr. Doctor - 14.02.2013 at 14:13  
+1 For G&T during a concert.
God I friggin love that drink.. Last time I did that was while I was watching the carnage of a moshpit from a distant at the Nasum tour with Pyramido, Skitsystem and Black Breath as supporters.
I felt like a sir!

With this article I can only say that I MUST see them at Roadburn.
Draugen - 14.02.2013 at 15:38  
I envy you so much...

Sadly I won't be able to see Royal Thunder and Pallbearer on their upcoming European tour.

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