Relapse is regarded as one of the great labels for extreme music (catchy monikers on the roster A-Z include Abysmal Dawn, Brutal Truth, Coffins, Genghis Tron and Toxic Holocaust), but with this debut and Baroness' new, breakthrough double album, Yellow & Green, the Pennsylvania imprint is branching out. Lucky us.

Bluesy drone rockers, Royal Thunder love an epic jam and a dirty groove; the find who will set them apart from the also-riffeds is Mlny Parsonz, one of those what-a-voice singers with the presence to allow the Atlanta quartet to take their sound anywhere they want. And they should: while there are banshee breakouts galore on CVI, on the likes of Shake and Shift and Sleeping Witch, Parsonz also shows she can turn down the animosity without losing any of the power (indeed, there are melodies here that just deserve to be hummed).

The longer you listen, the more you feel they owe it to themselves to explore their softer side, but even on this evidence, Royal Thunder already sound like they have a great double album in them too. Hail to the Queen.

Harry Guerin