Robot Lords of Tokyo: Hunting on Royal Ground

Looks pretty epic to me, man.They may look like cartoons — and more power to them for that; at least their press photos don’t consist of the band standing in front of a brick wall with their arms crossed — but the dudely brand of beer swilling, C.O.C.-style semi-Southern stoner rock that Columbus, Ohio‘s Robot Lords of Tokyo are unfolding with their self-released sophomore album, Whiskey, Blood & Napalm, is very, very real. The creative duo of Rick Ritzler (guitar/drums) and Paul Jones (vocals/guitar) is joined by Beau Vanbibber on rhythm guitar and backing vocals and Joe Okay, so the arms are still folded. Sue me.Viers on bass and backing vocals, as well as a host of Midwestern lead guitarists spread throughout the album. But despite the lineup being a bit jumbled, Ritzler and Jones manage to pull off the record sounding coherent and professional.

Very professional, actually. The production is crisp and for a self-produced affair, remarkably clean. There are a host of modern Southbound influences, from Down to Dixie Witch on “Larger than Life,” and Robot Lords of Tokyo manage to shake up their sound by adding the occasional Shadows Fall meets Pro-Pain growl vocally, but the crux of Whiskey, Blood & Napalm is geared toward accomplished, riff-based stoner metal. While it’s not the most groundbreaking brand of it in the world, one can hardly hold their inspiration against them, since they pull off the sound well and bring their own twist to it. Seriously, there’s only so much you can do at this point. There’s a lot of bands out there who sound like Deliverance and Wiseblood.

The lyrics cover ground from the “Turn off your tv” social commentary of “Fear” and “Bring it on Down” to the more sci-fi bent of opener “The Mergatroid” and the maybe-religious closer “Comes Eternal Night,” but it’s the overall classic rock sound of the band that’s getting carried over on Whiskey, Blood & Napalm, rather than any specific message itself. If anything, the record is more focused on kicking your ass than changing your life, which is just fine by me. I’d rather see the line between rocking and preaching skirted than crossed any day.

That this is only the Robot Lords of Tokyo‘s second album (though Ritzler and Jones have worked together for over a decade and it shows) and the songwriting is so clear and the songs so catchy means this is a band with a deep consideration for who their audience is and what they want. Though a bit heavy at times on the Pepper Keenan, Whiskey, Blood & Napalm is a solid and impressive offering from the US hard rock underground worthy of at least a checking out by stoner and classic rockers alike.

Robot Lords of Tokyo on MySpace

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