Review: “The Royal Thousand” by Glass Cloud

It’s time for us to turn back the hands of time and review an album from one of the lesser lights of heaven that we’ve talked about reviewing retrospectively for the entirety of the existence of Metal Noise. Released in 2012 “The Royal Thousand” by Hampton Virginia’s Glass Cloud is the one that got away.

Glass Cloud’s Josh Travis, formerly of The Tony Danza Tap Dance Extravaganza and now in Emmure is hands down one of the most talented guitarists in Metal. Using his 8 string to full effect, combining many different styles of play including shredding, tapping, smashing breakdown into breakdown. In fact there are so many breakdowns you need a tow truck. There are elements of beauty, melody, mathcore, DJent, hardcore, deathcore and some brutal metal. Travis is so good that at times you think you can hear two guitars instead of one. Jerry Rouch fromerly of Sky Eats Airplane and Of Mice & Men brings the vocals fusing singing and screaming with lyrics that are heart felt but a step away from direct. The rhythm section of bassist Travis Sykes and drummer Chad Hasty, both childhood friends of Roush are simply phenomenal on this recording and are both now in Glassjaw.

First single “White Flag” appeared 11 days before the band took the stage for the first time. Acting as the album’s opening track it starts with a straight forward enough but complex riff that takes you in with a Post-hardcore vibe brought by Rouch’s vocal stylings of angst laiden part sung, part screamed vocals. But it’s when those screams reach a new pitch and a power house drop slide into some brutal stuccato DJent that your eyes pop out of your skull. What’s this and where did it come from are the pair of questions instantly asked. Lyrically Rouch talks of himself or his band in the third person telling them if they want it bad enough it will come to them. The dark atmospheric and eerie backdrop make for a perfectly balanced cut. “If He Dies, He Dies” has that sense of melody with some dissonant riffs over the top of some driven riffs that fall away as the vocals break from clean to unclean and the guitars pop into some brutal breakdowns. A song that talks of the burden of divorce from a father son perspective and the depression that comes with it, it’s heavy lyrics give a sense of gravity to the vocal delivery. Twisting, turning, squealing and pulling, Travis provides a power house display with a battering ram of alternative sounds that you may not have witnessed before. “Falling In Style” is the anti love song as Rouch talks of a lady while the band infuse post-hardcore stylings. The depth of the lyrics “I am the falling rain, you are the ground” give you plenty to think about after the headbanging has finished. What Glass Cloud manage to do throughout this record is create a sense of urgency and tension that is unrelenting in its nature and brining it to something like this is well done.

Some chugs and scratches from Travis bring in the rhythm section for the introduction of “Ivy & Wine” which keeps the same high tempo energetic approach but with a heavier punch in the guitar tone. As we’ve mentioned in our introduction Travis often plays in such a way as to give the impression of two guitarists and this is a fine example. Rouch clearly feels like he’s got a point to prove and lyrically this one smashes that feeling home like an axe chopping fire wood. The 107 second largely ambient break “Prelude for a Ghost” is the introduction piece for “All Along” featuring a clean sung verse of aching beauty with its melodic tones before the track itself bursts into life with post-hardcore riffs while Travis Sykes and Chad Hasty deliver a heavier bass sound in the mix and some jazz styled drum work. Rouch spits of a broken relationship as if he’s a ghostly form while she’s the polar opposite. Telling himself to breathe deeply before making his next move “She Is Well And Nothing Can Be Ill” is loaded down with anxiety and guilt while talking in circles about seemingly random nuances, Rouch provides the kind of lyrical content that Keith Buckley of Everytime I Die is famed for. Musically, the band bounce around polyrhythmic patterns at breakneck speed, a lethal dose of high end DJenty Tech-Metal to get a packed club bouncing around like caffeinated jumping beans trapped in a confined space.

“Counting Sheep” starts off like a juggernaut with Rouch screaming for you to go and cry your eyes out on the bathroom floor against a backdrop of oceanic riff bursts. Slowing things down a notch for the mid section with some big sing-a-long clean vocals it’s one which shows the prowess of the band within the dynamics they’ve created for the album. An almost Jazz inspired introduction piece brings the crushing screams and battery of riffs that is  “Memorandum” in with style, giving everything a chance to breathe. That same introduction element resurfaces midway through the song but as a sorter break between some pummelling kit work and broken riffage as Travis seems to experiment with a couple of different sounds within the same key. A song that shows that the band are capable of beauty and the beast when it comes to Metal and able to tie together extremes without sounding like a train wreck, this is a prime cut. The big DJent chug of “From May Until Now” accompanied by some glorious clean vocals makes it feel like this can’t be the final track, such is the unrelenting quality of the material. The eerie haunting undertone atmospheric on this one sits neatly just behind the battering ram of DJent groove that’s broken up by some off kilter lead work with plenty of groove and stomp. It’s an adrenaline rush of emotions that just doesn’t let up from start to finish and Frankie Palmeri is now reaping the rewards of the hard work that went into this with the trio of final band members (Josh Miller, Phil Lockett and Josh Travis) now in his band [9/10]

Track listing

  1. White Flag
  2. If He Dies, He Dies
  3. Falling In Style
  4. Ivy & Wine
  5. Prelude for a Ghost
  6. All Along
  7. She Is Well And Nothing Can Be Ill
  8. Counting Sheep
  9. Memorandum
  10. From May Until Now

“The Royal Thousand” by Glass Cloud is out now via Equal Vision Records

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