Dancer Martha Graham once said, “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. What Graham is describing is the intertwined duality of individualism with creativity. Essentially, within every person there is exists a basic, primal function (or drive) to create. This internal power lies in a near-dormant state, patiently maturing as it is given nourishment through a combination of interest, passion, willpower, skill, and a medium. Once well-fed, this rising energy quickly metastasizes into a free-flowing creative entity that exudes itself through our pores and fingertips to eventually take a form: art, music, autoCAD drafts, etc. What makes these creations unique is that they are directly derived from us- form our trials, tribulations, and triumphs; through our emotions, hearts, and experiences. Thus, we retain a sense of individuality within our creativity. But even as special and remarkable we all are as a population of nearly 7 billion different creators, there still exists an exceptional few that surpass excellence and rise above the rest, and joining such ranks is Houston, Texas’ Royale. Their latest single, “This Is My Life”, raises the band on a pedestal of growing success with an amalgamation of grooving riffs, driving instrumentation, and heartfelt lyricism.
Muted jangly guitars and softened clean vocals from Bassist Tyler Larson instantly greet your ears and slowly build into a set of atmospheric electronic effects before bursting into a skull-fracturing frenzy of harsh, indignant riffage, slamming percussion, deep growls, and melodic licks. Grooving, punctual bass-driven verses by Larson are perfectly accentuated by guitarists Melendez and Lu’s punchy, face-pummeling chords and spastic arias that burst and fizzle overtop the driving riffage. What makes these verses so instrumentally interesting is the undulating manner in which the band constructs them- crafting a sound within each pitch bent riff and accentuated down beat that best replicates what it would be like to have your face repeatedly introduced to the concrete. Drummer Jean Arce juxtaposes his stick-snapping snare hits and sharp cymbal play against his deep, earthy bass drum and toms in a series of harsh fills and rolls that twist themselves around his quick-witted footwork to deliver an intense percussive display that will grind your facial flesh deep into the pavement. Vocalist David Boen utilizes a combination of throat-tearing mid screams and rumbling, ferocious growls and split-scream harmonies to give excellent lyrical emphasis and pairs perfectly with Larson’s gritty clean vocals. A jarringly vicious, near-murderous breakdown bursts from the hail of melodic riffage in an expertly-crafted layered sequence of ear-piercing pull riffs and slightly discordant melodic licks before returning to the chorus, which, in turn, leads to a brilliant display of technicality by Brandon Melendez’ gorgeous, eargasmic solo, which slowly, and bitterly, fades out into silence, leaving you screaming for more.
Royale’s “This Is My Life” is the perfect example of pushing your individuality and creativity to the next level through a combination of pristine musicianship, calculated musicality, and blunt sincerity. What is most impressive is the band’s energy that remains clearly audible throughout the duration of the track, taking the form of anything from the layered, light melodic arias, the grooving, driving bass, or the crashing cymbal display- thus, standing as a testament and a stellar standard of musical individuality that other metal acts may find hard to reach or utterly unattainable. “This Is My Life” is more than just a statement of individuality and perfect craft- it is a force, an energy, and a quickening that clearly shines through the band and illuminates Royale’s clear path towards stardom. (Katt Hass)
For Fans Of: Of Mice & Men, August Burns Red, Bullet For My Valentine