Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Album Review: Rival Sons - Feral Roots

Rival Sons have been the touted as the next best thing in Rock and Roll for almost a decade, and while their albums and concerts have been consistently good they haven’t yet exploded commercially as they were promised to. It now seems like the mantle of up and coming saviours of old school rock has been passed on to Greta Van Fleet, which is good news: Rival Sons no longer need to prove anything.

I have to admit I had soured up on them after seeing them open for Guns N’ Roses last summer. They seemed lost and unfocused on such a big stage, playing in daylight. It was an uncharacteristic performance from a band that has built up a lot of good will through constant touring, whether as a headliner or as an opener for such bands as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, etc.

Now is their time to capitalise upon all that good will and Feral Roots is the album that should help them do just that. It is their best record so far, and that’s saying a lot given their track record. All the songs are fully realised, where it wasn’t always the case before. And they have finally found the perfect balance between their debt to classic rock and the foot they’ve planted firmly into modernity.

Do Your Worst opens the album with great vocal performance by Jay Buchanon and a cool singalong chorus that should perform well in the arenas they’ll no doubt soon be headlining.

Sugar On The Bone is a modern take Nuggets-style punk psychedelia, frantic and primitive, a real riot.

Back in the Woods is a truly heavy song with a very satisfying riff.

Look Away starts like lysergic psychedelic tune with acoustic guitar and percussions but quickly turns into a straight rocker with a soaring vocal melody.

Feral Roots starts as contemplative ballad and ends up rocking hard. Its dynamics make it one of the best songs on the album.

Too Bad is a fun, almost heavy metal number with a great riff, kick-ass drums parts, a killer guitar solo and a haunted vocal performance. This is probably the best rocker on the album.

Stood By Me is a quasi funky number with an almost jam-band kind of vibe. Jay Buchanan shines again on vocals, and the whole thing sounds like it could have fit on L.A. Woman.

Imperial Joy is a modern Southern Rock tune running on a greasy blues rock riff but takes a turn for a more soulful vibe on the chorus, complete with quasi-gospel backing vocals and jangly guitars, like a hard rocking version of the Band.

All Directions is a pretty ballad that builds in intensity and ends as a barn burning gospel.

End Of Forever is almost industrial metal at first and then evolves into a Soundgarden-type rocker. In fact, Jay’s voice sounds a lot like Chris Cornell’s on this one.

Shooting Stars takes the gospel leanings heard on Imperial Joy and All Directions and puts them centre stage: this is a true soul/rock anthem and is the best way to end the album: on a high.

All in all this is an excellent release which will hopefully propel the band into rock superstardom. This is the record that finally makes good on all their promises by bringing together all the facets of their talents and all the diversity of their influences while showcasing the power they are capable of on stage.

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