This is our first taste of Rival Sons, though they have charted in the UK. They formed in 2009, and this is their sixth album. They’re a big band. They supported Deep Purple on their 2016 European tour and toured as main supporting act for all of Black Sabbath’s The End tour, which marked the end of the band. That’s a good slot to land, and not one musical slouches were going to get.
Musically, this is so solid a motorway bridge would appear as but an apparitional penumbra in comparison. Bonham-esque drums, huge but melodic guitars (think Audioslave) and proper rock vocals.
That said, it’s got a mix of heavy rock and blues/Southern boogie — we get the impression they’ve upped the oomph for this. Fan reviews rave about it but talk about their previous more “mystical” work. There’s lots of macho rock but also more sensitive sections, from Look Away, which is melodic rock, more towards the blues, to the title track which is — surprisingly — a pleasant folk / rock tune, somewhere between Since I’ve Been Loving You and Bron-Yr-Aur. Stood By Me is funkier and more psychedelic.
The songs lack the structural complexity of Zep — there’s a reason the Zep are so big, and we seem to recall reading they still sell 14,000 albums a month in the US — but they’re still pretty good. A couple of tracks start with Zep nods while Back In The Woods kicks off with a drum solo.
Lyrically it’s standard rock fare, words that sound meaningful but aren’t: “You that stranger / Coming up the hill / If you don’t recognise him / I know your preacher will”; that sort of stuff. The devil or the vicar’s brother?
Sugar On The Bone sounds dirty but it’s not, it just uses random and manly words.
One for fans of the super muscular and melodic: Zep, Audioslave etc. Although it’s slick and polished, they sound like a band rather than a money-making machine (think Ozzy Osbourne’s vacuous noise), which is a bonus.
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