For a while, it seemed like Royal Thunder was rolling through Columbus every couple of months. The Atlanta-based hard rock band opened for the likes of Baroness, Pallbearer and Dillinger Escape Plan during the 2012/2013 tour for their debut album, CVI. With the powerful vocals of Mlny Parsonz¬†and the classic hard rock guitar playing of Josh Weaver, I’ve often described the band’s sound as “Ann Wilson of Heart fronting Led Sabbath”.

Some shit must have gone down between CVI and the follow up, Crooked Doors, as the sophomore album (named #8 Best Metal Albums of 2015 by Rolling Stone) felt emotionally heavy and an evolution in the band’s sound. I dug up an email I sent to fellow Columbus Calling contributor Keith Adams after my first listen of Crooked Doors.

People are going to FREAK THE FUCK OUT when they hear the new Royal Thunder – not necessarily in a good way. I gave it one full listen and it’s WAY different. I listened in the background so didn’t pay careful attention to the lyrics but I think there’s a story behind this album in the lyrics. It feels really personal, as if Mlny is saying, “I’ve been through some shit and this is what you get. It’s from my head AND my heart.” That being said, I LOVE IT. The songs are long, they are still a rock band but this isn’t radio-friendly rock. I’d say in the evolution of Black Sabbath’s influence, Royal Thunder is going through their Soundgarden phase (not that it necessarily sounds like Soundgarden but I make that comparison to give you an idea of where on the heaviness spectrum it falls). Will be interested in hearing what you think of it after you’ve heard it.

With the release of Crooked Doors, Royal Thunder continued to do relentless touring though for some inexplicable reason, they never made it through Columbus. Wonder if we did something wrong? (ha ha) And, in what is truly one of the strangest tour pairings that I can remember (I’d rank it up there with the time when I saw Alice in Chains, who had just put out Facelift, open for Extreme who were riding high thanks to “More Than Words”), Royal Thunder did a run of dates with Wilco in the spring of 2015 (man, what I wouldn’t have given to see the faces of Wilco fans as Royal Thunder laid down their heavy grooves!).

2017’s Wick splits the difference between the two previous albums, it’s a metal album with nuance and emotion. There are peaks and valleys which offer both headbanging opportunities as well as chances to close your eyes and sway in place back and forth (sometimes even within the same song!).

Friday night, Royal Thunder makes their triumphant return to Columbus to play at Spacebar with Pinkish Black and Akula (I think the last time I saw Royal Thunder was when they headlined KOBO, the club that eventually became Spacebar). Doors are at 9pm and tickets are $12.

BONUS: Kids Interview Bands did two interviews with Royal Thunder in 2012 and 2013.