In addition to being a member of two of the 1990s' leading stoner rock bands, Kyuss and Fu Manchu, drummer Brant Bjork has also issued solo albums on his own, produced others, and runs his own record label. Hailing from Palm Desert, CA, Bjork began playing with guitarist Josh Homme, bassist Nick Oliveri, and singer John Garcia while they all were still in high school, resulting in the formation of Kyuss. The group's Sabbath-like sound fit in perfectly with such other then-current bands as Soundgarden and Alice in Chains, which resulted in the release of the 1991 indie debut Wretch, before the band signed on with Elektra. Kyuss issued what has gone on to become one of the decade's landmark metal releases, 1992's Blues for the Red Sun, which almost single-handedly created the ensuing stoner rock movement. Bjork also showcased his songwriting talents, single-handedly penning two of the album's highlights, "Green Machine" and "50 Million Year Trip (Downside Up)."
But the original lineup began to splinter shortly after the album's release as Oliveri left, and Bjork did the same after the release of 1994's Welcome to Sky Valley. After his exit, Bjork kept himself busy by producing others, including Fu Manchu's 1994 release, No One Rides for Free, another album that is held in reverence by hard rock fans. Bjork then joined the group as its drummer a few years later, appearing on such subsequent Fu Manchu releases as 1997's Action Is Go, 1999's Eatin' Dust, 2000's King of the Road, and 2001's California Crossing. Throughout the '90s, Bjork also found time to create his own indie label, El Camino Records (which later would be retitled Duna Records), appear on other artists' recordings (Josh Homme's Desert Sessions series, etc.), and launch a solo career with the 1999 release Jalamanta. Also during the late '90s, Bjork was briefly an early member of Homme's post-Kyuss band, Queens of the Stone Age, but exited before appearing on any recordings.
The early 21st century saw Bjork form a trio named Ch'e (issuing a lone album in 2000, Sounds of Liberation), in addition to playing as part of former Kyuss bandmate Oliveri's project Mondo Generator (2000's Cocaine Rodeo and 2003's A Drug Problem That Never Existed) and issuing further solo releases (2002's Brant Bjork & the Operators and 2003's Keep Your Cool), 2015's Black Power Flower and 2016 forthcoming Tao of the Devil. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi
Photo Credit: Matt Grayson
ROYAL THUNDER are a four-piece rock band based out of Atlanta, Georgia that seamlessly blend the elements of heavy classic rock, 90's grunge, and forward-thinking progressive rock. Propelled by the powerfully emotional voice of frontwoman Mlny Parsonz, the guitar heroics of Josh Weaver, and the dynamic drums of Evan Diprima, ROYAL THUNDER have been described by NPR as "a revved-up Southern hard-rock that howls like Led Zeppelin astride a psychedelic unicorn" and as "magnificently compelling rock music" by Decibel Magazine. Formed in 2004 by Weaver, his brother, and his best friend, the band went through several lineup changes over the years before settling on their current lineup, which also incorporated second guitarist Will Fiore as of 2015.
In 2007, ROYAL THUNDER self-released their debut EP and started touring with Jesse Stuber on drums. By 2010, Relapse Records took notice and signed the band, beginning with an official re-release of their self-titled EP then later releasing their 2012 full-length debut, CVI. Stuber left the band after CVI was complete, replaced by drummer Lee Smith. The band toured with Lee Smith and Josh Coleman (who also joined during the making of CVI on second guitar) for a few US tours. CVI was widely praised by critics, including Rolling Stone's David Fricke, who said that Weaver's playing has "the meaty, base elements of early-Seventies British blues" and Metal Hammer Magazine, who stated, "through the powerhouse vocals of Mlny Parsonz and a refusal to keep their sound boxed, Royal Thunder look set to be the underground's next big breakout stars". Other publications such as SPIN called the album "stunning" while Revolver Magazine described it as "essential" and The Guardian called the band "elegantly powerful," and compared them to prime Led Zeppelin.
Since current drummer Diprima joined in October 2012, the band have been heavily touring the world, including full North American and European Tours with Baroness as well as prominent US tours alongside Monster Magnet, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Pallbearer, Enslaved, Corrosion of Conformity, O'Brother and many more. The group have also played high-profile festivals including SXSW, Bonnaroo, Scion Rock Fest, Bragg Jam, Roadburn, and numerous others. In a gap in their heavy touring schedule in 2013, the band recorded CVI: A, a set of acoustic renditions of three songs from CVI. ROYAL THUNDER then entered the studio once more in January of 2014 to begin their sophomore LP, Crooked Doors which was once again recorded, produced, and engineered by Joey Jones of Aria Recording Studio, with whom the band has a long standing working and personal relationship. Crooked Doors was released worldwide in April of 2015 via Relapse Records and has been praised by dozens of high-profile publications including Stereogum, The Guardian, and NPR, the latter of which called the Atlanta band "a modern master of hard-rock." Though they've been around for ten years, ROYAL THUNDER seem to have only just hit their stride – the future stands to be even more uproarious than the band's exciting early development.
HEAVY METAL FROM VANCOUVER, BC. "New Waste" LP is out worldwide on Listenable Records January 2016!
'Black Wizard have really done it with this album. Their performance is impressive, the sound is massive, the vocals are colossal and the guitar leads are seriously, seriously great. If you are a doom metal fan then Young Wisdom will put you in an ecstatic state of mind." - CVLT Nation
"Nothing short of excellent, Young Wisdom is by far one of the best albums I have heard yet in 2013, boasting an impressive collection of stoner rock that will quickly find its place amongst notable acts such as The Sword and Priestess." - Ride with The Devil
Barrows fuses atmospheric and heavy music in the form of sprawling concept albums. The band creates entrancing, circling riffs and rhythms intercut with explosive peaks and brilliant subtleties.
"Red Giant", the sophomore album by Barrows is fittingly massive in thematic scope as it is in sonic heft. An album about the life of a star and what happens after it dies, the band depicts the stages of celestial death throughout the album's five epic tracks.
"Imprecari Island", the debut album by Barrows, is an intense musical jouney about a group of sailors who get shipwrecked on a cursed island. Their shipwreck, time on the island, and eventual escape is portrayed through the first eight tracks and is followed by the epic finale that takes place back out at sea, "Pirates".