Lumping Royal Thunder in with the underground occult rock explosion of recent years has always felt a little lazy, since they draw on so much more than simple 70s nostalgia, extracting as much from grunge, AOR and trad metal as they do from the patchouli pipe, and if there is any justice in this world, ‘Wick’ is the album that will prove that. Opening with the Eastern influenced ‘Burning Tree’ and lead single ‘April Showers’, things initially sound like business as usual, all opiates and cowls at midnight, but where past albums have wallowed in clandestine ritual, ‘Wick’ bursts with the hazy sun of a Summer Solstice, coating everything in vitality and fertility. Trust us when we say it is no coincidence this album has been released at the height of Spring. Following a lysergic start, the album truly starts to flower with ‘Tied’ and ‘We Slipped’, harnessing Stevie Nicks like a racehorse and riding her through Stonehenge, before exploding into ‘The Sinking Chair’, the kind of song that burns holes in festivals, drawing in people from other events let alone stages. At this point, it would be churlish, borderline impossible and downright irresponsible to continue without mentioning Mlny Parsons’ voice, which crackles with the fragile ferocity of a porcelain tornado throughout, her unique sing-wail-scream driving the songs with an urgent authenticity. When it finally cracks on the plaintive ‘Plans’, it is utterly heartbreaking, evoking the spirits of Billie Holiday and Etta James, and absolutely begging for a solo blues album. Logically, Mlny should be the undeniable star here, but when tracks like ‘Push’ and the sublime ‘Anchor’ slam into gear, the might of the band proves this is definitely no one-woman show, levelling the playing field with explosions of power to create something bigger than rock, bigger than metal, bigger than pop. Royal Thunder have always had something special about them, but ‘Wick’ feels like they’ve finally realised it themselves and it is absolutely spectacular. This is the soundtrack to Summer 2017, don’t sleep on it.