Thursday, 14 March 2019

Rival Sons - Feral Roots (2019)


Released January 2019

I have to admit that, until recently, I didn't know much about Rival Sons, who are a Californian guitar-based, gritty rock band. I think I caught them once on the Jools Holland show but that was about it. This is their sixth album since 2009. So, I am reviewing it as a novice to their work. Forgive me if I show some ignorance. For me, they have that up-front, loud power that Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats conjure up, but while the latter have a brassy, soul sound, Rival Sons are full-on pounding rock. The bass and drum sounds are positively huge. They will make your speakers shake.


1. Do Your Worst
2. Sugar On The Bone
3. Back In The Woods
4. Look Away
5. Feral Roots
6. Too Bad
7. Stood By Me
8. Imperial Joy
9. All Directions
10. End Of Forever
11. Shooting Stars                                                

"Do Your Worst" is an absolutely barnstorming Led Zeppelin meets Queen's "We Will Rock You" opener, full of riffs, bass and absolutely thumping Bonham-esque drums. "Sugar On the Bone" has an odd, distorted guitar, buzzy opening, but soon moves into a soulful but crashing number. The sheer power continues on the huge bass thump and riffs of "Back In The Woods", with singer Jay Buchanan sounding Robert Plant-esque at times. This track rocks, big time. You could imagine it going down a storm live. Time for a bit of light relief after such a muscular opening. We get it with the very "Led Zeppelin III" acoustic strains of "Look Away". After a minute and a half, however, a pulsating guitar/drum beat kicks in with yet another impressive vocal. There is a bit of a hint of Queen's early heavier guitar on this, just in small instances.

"Feral Roots" has more Zeppelin influence in its quiet contemplative verses and its strong refrain. It is a most charismatic, atmospheric number. There is some searing guitar soloing in the middle too. "Too Bad" is a big, slow-pace industrial rock number with slight echoes of Paul Rodgers and Free about it. Once more, the guitar is seriously good. "Stood By Me" has a very Rolling Stones eighties era-ish lead riff and a funky bass line. "Imperial Joy" is back to the all-out bombast. "All Directions", however, has a laid-back soulful feel about it with an impressive lead vocal and slightly ethereal backing vocals. It still finds time for a great riff near the end, however.

A subtle intro to "End Of Forever", rhythmic drum sound and U2-esque guitars gives way to another tub-thumping chorus. Some of the quieter passages betray a melodic ability that is not always given full reign. I feel some of the group's instrumental dexterity and the hidden soul in the vocals becomes a bit overpowered at times by the unrelenting attack. Funnily enough, the final cut, "Shooting Stars"  features some gospel-influenced vocals and has a anthemic air to it. The album's forty-seven minutes will give your senses a good clear-out, it has to be said. After it, I need a lie down. Good solid, rock fare.


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