There are some albums I keep replaying for the longest time, but I never get around to reviewing. When finally taking the time to look deeper into them, I realize how impressive they are – the depth of lyrics, emotional value, conceptual construction, and refined sound telling a captivating story.

One such album is The Bastards – Palaye Royale’s third full-length unveiling impressive growth and development in their theatrics and fictional world creation. It is an album I keep coming back to and telling myself I have to finally talk about. The day is finally here, and I am ready for the wrecking deep-dive this beauty deserves.

Palaye Royale walked an impressive journey that deserves way more attention than it gets. Their origin can be traced back to 2008, when they started proving themselves under the name Kropp Circle.  

Even though early releases like Morning Light (2012) and EP The Ends Beginning (2013) clearly indicated the visual and sound aesthetic they would adopt, the stage they reached with the last album is admirable.

Morning Light and The Ends Beginning introduce three brothers uniting classical music influence with glam, garage, indie, and classic rock variations to create a captivating vintage vibe. The instrumentals are notably slower and milder than what we heard in the latest three full-lengths, but the classic Palaye Royale magic is still there. The emphasize on the emotional substance, traumatic experiences, and the noticeably dark vibe is what the band would keep as their core to this day.

Remi’s raspy voice is a real treat in this EP

Since then, Rolaye Royale constructed a distinctive aesthetic visible in every aspect of their art. Glam rock energy keeps living with their music and style – influences of David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, and The Velvet Underground are also easy to spot inviting elements of classic rock and roll to the already irresistible image of the band.

The trio managed to dethrone Linkin Park while still being unsigned back in 2013 (March Madness) and toured with artists like Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie before taking on explosive headline tours of their own. A lot of achievements for the past eight years are a fact, yet somehow it still seems they remain underappreciated.  

Palaye Royale improved significantly since their debut. The sound in Boom Boom Room Side A and B is notably more aggressive, energizing, and refined. Vocal execution is more confident and unstoppably contagious – you will not be able to resist letting your emotions out with Remington on tracks like Mr. Doctorman or You’ll Be Fine.

Instrumental coordination and build-up also developed a lot – ferocious drum solos and electrifying guitars take the spotlight often and support the emotion-infused lyrical content.

But what really gets your attention is the unbreakable consistency and steady build-up of conceptual storytelling. The band started creating a fictional world mirroring their headspace and past experiences. This is done in the classy retro style of the 1870s which you will spot in the band’s styling, live show stunts, imagery, and most recently in their spectacular comic book – The Bastards.

Ever since the conception of the band and the first single ‘Morning Light’ we have been hiding pieces of this story, within the lyrics, artwork, and visuals. Finally after years of work the doors are opened for all to enter.

via website

In the end of summer in 1875, three brothers begin to question the root of their own identity and where they came from. Seven years later in a mysterious town, the clues to their past start to unravel. And the past they have been searching for turns out it has been searching for them as well.

The storytelling reached a new level with the latest album The Bastards where each song unites a fictional narrative and a real-life throwback to the past. Filled with bottled up emotions, heartfelt confessions, and dark stories, it is a journey you want don’t want to sleep on. 

Little Bastards opens the doors to the world we are entering with an alluring intro and a rapid extraction from our own reality. You get lost in the melody and addictive chants that introduce you the concept of the album.

The environment that we will explore in the next fifteen tracks starts to form, and characters appear one by one.

The song is angsty, exciting, and just a little scary. The instrumentals mix anger, aggression, and suspense and help the track flow into the next one with a smooth but powerful transition.

Massacre, The New American Dream shows the sleek blend of conceptual storytelling and real-world issues. It makes an on-point remark towards America’s idiotic gun policy and the killings that have been happening for years because of it.

The up-tempo sound and discreet aggressive notes in the instrumentals fit the concept of the song well and make up for a great listening experience.

This is a protest. In hopes to give this new generation a revolution in the form of an anthem. We are all on the verge of waking up and truly understanding that people should not be afraid of their government, [the] government should be afraid of their people. This is how we feel about the current state of America.

Palaye Royale via Sumerian Records

Things get even darker with track number three – Anxiety. It is grotesque, creepy, and haunting in all aspects – sound, lyrics, and vocals. The vicious cycle of anxiety is portrayed painfully well – trying to numb the pain and increasing the negative effects as a result, the confusion, stress, and loss of direction. Similarly to the previous track, we witness a unity of The Bastards’ lore with modern world issues and personal experiences.

The same topic re-appears in Nightmares with a slightly different context.

What follows is a slower and more mellow overall atmosphere. However, Tonight Is The Night I Die remains equally powerful to its predecessors and creates a very dramatic, suspenseful environment during its climax.

There is an intense build-up that fills you up with energy and a strange sort of motivation. This contrasts sharply with the topic of the song – being mentally overwhelmed and struggling to keep depression and suicidal thoughts at bay.

Lonely picks things up from where the previous track left them. It can be viewed as part two of dissecting the battle with depression – self-hate and issues with overmedication are shown as parts of another vicious cycle of endless struggle.

The song has an incredibly addictive construction – it is hard to resist singing along, and in case you have ever experienced the feelings talked about, you will find immense comfort in Lonely.

Hang On To Yourself presents a rapid switch of sound and mood. It is loud and powerful. The topic here is drug addiction – the song goes in detail with the sweet temptations, the challenges of breaking the habit, and the importance of hanging on to yourself.

Fucking With My Head turns the attention towards a more external struggle. It deals with a toxic relationship and fuses a slightly romantic topic with another mental health tribulation. The song is explosive and powerful, easily entering the list of Palaye Royale songs that would start a riot during a live show.

Nervous Breakdown seems to go deeper compared to most songs on the album. It remains mostly heavy, however, changes to a softer chorus bring balance.

The nervous breakdown in question ties up with Remington Leith’s past. This time the personal story is not so masked, and the devastating consequences of the absence of a certain person in his life are unapologetically showcased.

One thing I can’t help but admire about this track is that despite the emotional heaviness it radiates, the overall atmosphere is still confident and comforting instead of sad and tragic. I’m not sure many other artists are capable of pulling this off.

I just have to point out how good this intro is

80s hard-rock/glam-rock influences unite with a charming modern touch in Masochist. The drum part shines bright here while The Bastards make another attempt to find salvation using a different type of controversial method – self-torture.

The final part of this chapter of The Bastards’ story (I don’t think this is the end) is greatly introduced by Doom (Empty). There is a grand opening to the track which overwhelms with anticipation and heaviness.

Depression and mental strain get another grimy depiction – there is an impressive amount of feelings and emotion poured out via instrumentals and minimal lyricism.

Black Sheep deals with being an outcast suffering from self-doubt, while Stay takes a more heartfelt, balladic road. It is mellow and gentle in contrast to the majority of the tracklist, bringing a nice change of pace and a breath of fresh air before the very end of the journey.

The album closes with Redeemer and a bonus track – Lord Of Lies. The first one unites several of the explored themes in one and introduced fast-paced hip-hop-inspired verses. Lord Of Lies is a nice finishing touch – a one-take track recorded without pre-written lyrics. A true improvisation turned well, capturing the chaotic nature of the record and the overwhelming amount of emotional substance.

The Bastards seems to be dedicated to various internal and external struggles the band has experienced first-hand. Different topics take turns to transform the real-world troubles of the trio into the fictional story taking place in a world far from our own. 

The effect is spectacular – the album takes you through many emotions and hits hard with each track. Filled with depth, thought-provoking remarks, personal references, and hints about the next chapter of the story, the record has immense replay value. I doubt spinning it once will be sufficient for anyone. 

The development of the band is amazing, and I am excited to see where they take modern rock next. One thing is certain – the Palaye Royale aesthetic will stay intact, and there will be no rose-coloured glasses to mask reality. It will be a wild but worthwhile ride. 

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