Sound Bite: Royal Bliss joining Tantric at Crystal Bay |

Sound Bite: Royal Bliss joining Tantric at Crystal Bay

Tim Parsons, Lake Tahoe Action

Royal Bliss is on the way up, and considering where the Salt Lake City metal band has been, that’s the only direction it can move.

Lead singer Neil Middleton was face-down in a concrete courtyard 35 feet underneath a balcony where he had been partying.

“They told my girlfriend if I was going to make it through the night, and they didn’t think I was going to pull through, that if I did, I was going to be paralyzed for life.”

Not only is Middleton walking again, he’s rocking better than ever on tour in support of a solid new album.

The opening track, “Save Me,” is getting plenty of Internet sales and rock radio airplay. The tune also sets the tone: heavy partying, lots of alcohol, plenty of angst, apologies and eventually choosing a path toward salvation.

The quintet, which has been together for 11 tumultuous years, co-wrote the 12 songs. That the five are still intact is a testament to a tight bond.

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For example, after the band’s Tahoe debut a couple of years ago at Whiskey Dick’s, two of the members wound up in jail.

“We had a lot of fun at the Dick,” Middleton said “Then we ended up at a casino down there, and we had a little bit too much fun. But we had a blast.”

Moreover, on different occasions, drummer Joe Smith rolled his car five times and guitarist Chris Harding sliced his face in half in a ski accident.

“Through my life, I’ve been stabbed, I’ve fallen out of cars, and I’ve fallen off a cliff,” Middleton said. “I got sucked out into the Pacific Ocean on an air mattress and had full hypothermia, and had to be rescued by a boat. A lot of near-death experiences. It’s ‘Life In-Between’ life and death, and I’ve been there a few times.”

The five band members contributed to all of the songwriting, and producer Rob Daiker brought out the best in the boys.

“Every other time we’ve recorded it was just weird,” Middleton said. “The studio was really expensive and high-end. It made everything really stagnant, so you really didn’t have a vibe there. (Daiker) let us be ourselves and play like we were playing a live show, and that’s what we like to do.”

Middleton has all the range and pipes a rock singer needs. He sounds like Filter’s Richard Patrick on my favorite song, “We Did Nothing Wrong.”

The song has all the components of a vocal heavy metal anthem ” and Royal Bliss pulls it off without sounding cliche. It has Middleton’s storyline backed by solid harmonies. The song crescendos to primordial bellows laced with a testosterone chorus. It rocks.

Middleton’s favorite, “By & By,” follows, and it’s in the vein of Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead of Alive,” yet with more authenticity.

Maybe that’s because you know were these guys are coming from. Or it just might be that that this is an outstanding CD. Well done, Royal Bliss. Life in-between, indeed.

A video for “Save Me” is in production. It features Claymation characters in the spirit of those well-played Tool videos. The band is on a serious road trip across the West. It opens for Tantric on Thursday, Aug. 28, in the Crystal Bay Casino’s Crown Room. Two nights later, Royal Bliss will play in Idaho before doubling back to Reno for shows Sunday and Monday.