Eugene Weekly : Music : 3.12.09

Let It Bleed
Northwest Royale unleashes new EP
by Vanessa Salvia

As the Eugene metal scene goes, only a handful of bands have made much impact beyond our county line. Northwest Royale is one of them. It’s been a nearly 10-year journey, but the band that burst out of a dingy Eugene garage in 2000 is set to see a March 17 worldwide release of their brand new album and play their biggest show ever this summer. 

NWR recently learned they’re confirmed for the Jagermeister mobile stage at the Rockstar Mayhem Fest in Seattle on July 14, playing to 20,000 souls alongside God Forbid, All That Remains and Trivium. “We’re really stoked,” says drummer Chris “Beef Wellington” Phillips. It’s great timing, since the band just finished a 5-song EP, The Bleeding Edge, and inked a worldwide distribution deal.

 In 2005, the band’s members all quit their day jobs and toured hard on their own dime for two years following their 2006 release Home Is Where the Hate Is. NWR has seen its share of lineup changes — in 2006 singer Colt Williams was out and Blake Owens took over the mic. Perhaps that perceived instability held them back, but that seems to no longer be the case. 

Phillips says the band initially had doubts about Owens as a singer, but he “amazed us, and we started writing all new music.” The band has evolved from their earlier “party band” sound to something heavier and more aggressive. Williams “always had a joking humor” says Phillips. “It was almost comedic, but Blake is writing songs about real things, and he’s not joking around about anything.” 

NWR haven’t swapped humor for heaviness without riffage. “Hell To Pay” will leave fans in awe of guitarist Travis Zering’s and Phillips’ dexterity as they trade off sonic attacks in between Owens’ verbal barrage. The guitar work and drums really carries these songs, and on “Rocket Science,” the combination is relentless. Even when the tempo slows down, the pair are a driving force that pulls everything else forward. While it’s debatable whether a band of this ilk has the right to title a song “The Invisible Orange,” the instrumental track has a tongue-in-cheek vibe that probably makes it OK, thanks to atmospheric keyboard interludes and a swirling guitar line that would shred the silence of a dark Norwegian forest. The Bleeding Edge also benefits from a beefy production, provided mostly gratis by their friend Snake, guitarist for Skinlab. 

“It blows my mind how much we’ve done,” says Owens. “I joined as a fan, originally the light guy, giving up playing drums because I believed in, and continue to believe in, what this band can do. I certainly didn’t expect to be fronting NWR now, but it’s been a cool experience, to say the least.”

Northwest Royale, Skinlab, Monday With A Bullet, Utterance, Abandon The Shore. 8 pm Saturday, 3/14. WOW Hall • $10 (Advance tickets entitle you to a free copy of the CD.)