Storming out of Brisbane Australia come Down Royale, a heavy metal quintet looking to burst out of the colonies with their explosive sound. Formed in 2008 by vocalist Scott Michael and guitarist Corey James, they were joined in 2009 by second guitarist Jackson Cheng and then in 2011 by drummer Mitch Fogarty and bassist Johnny Cheng.
Down Royal are a very self contained unit, (the entire EP was written, recorded, produced and mixed at Scott Michael’s home studio and all art work on the EP and web site was designed by Jackson Cheng) almost like a special forces team and this shows in the ferocity of the music they play.
Opening track “Transcendence” is exactly how I would imagine Down Royale would open a show. The two minute track is almost split in half between an eerie and imposing intro tape that seems to build like a gathering storm before the band themselves kick in led by drummer Mitch ahead of the twin guitars taking over and driving straight in to the rest of the EP.
From here on out the band are off and running. The next two tracks “Thy Enemy” and “Make You Bleed” pass in a blur and are extremely powerful managing to combine hardcore grooves with big riffs and solos that keep you guessing where the next hook is going to come from.
Title track “Proving Ground” is the stand out track for me. The chunky grooves and heavy bass line had me nodding along in approval wishing I could see the band perform live.
“Reprieve” is a lie, because there is absolutely no let up here, and by the time the last notes of closing track “Nothing Left” are drifting across your ears you’ll be reaching for the repeat button of your CD/MP3 player to hear it all again.
Overall “Proving Ground” is an excellent debut piece and will go down well with nearly all metal fans. Drummer Mitch and bassist Johnny hold the band very tightly whilst all the time driving the tempo forwards. The dual guitars of Corey and Jackson complement each other very well and create a great platform for the vocal provided by Scott which is amongst the best I’ve heard for this style of metal.
The only negative I can find is the solos. In my opinion solos are a chance for a guitarist to show what they can do technically within the context of a given song and here the solos are a bit low in the mix to really stand out and as a result are a little under whelming. But maybe I’m just nit picking.
I’m giving “Proving Ground” 9/10 and look forward to what Down Royale come up with next.
Proving Ground is available now through:
Convergence Records –
- Thy Enemy
- Make You Bleed
- Proving Ground
- Nothing Left
Scott Michael – Vocals
Corey James – Guitar
Jackson Cheng – Guitar
Mitchell Fogarty – Drums
Johnny Cheng – Bass