Rival Sons

Low Country Sound / Atlantic, 2023


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


The first of two Rival Sons albums due out in 2023 (Lightbringer should release in the fall sometime), Darkfighter finds the California classicist rockers as good as ever.

Twenty fourteen’s Great Western Valkyrie was where I discovered this band, with its classic rock inspirations (Zeppelin, Soundgarden, Black Keys) fueling such great songs as “Secret” and “Open My Eyes.” Initially more popular in Canada, they gained U.S. recognition and Grammy nominations with 2019’s my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Feral Roots and “Do Your Worst,” and so Darkfighter aims to build on that momentum with album number seven.

The influences are still there, but Rival Sons have grown beyond them for sure; no way could they have pulled off a confident rave-up like “Nobody Wants To Die” or the vocals of “Mirrors” a decade ago. “Bird In The Hand” is a stomping, overdriven midtempo piece, very reminiscent of Queens Of The Stone Age’s 2002 hit “No One Knows” as filtered through the Keys and Joe Bonamassa.

Some reviewers heap praise on “Bright Light” and “Rapture,” but they don’t really work; the latter is too slow and the former, for whatever reason, just can’t quite pull off the vibe it’s going for. But no fear: “Guillotine” is all rock energy (with some classic Queen sounds in the chorus) that veers into an off-kilter instrumental section and a rampaging guitar solo. This then leads into the six-minute album highlight “Horses Breath,” an ambitious, kinetic stomp-rocker with some great singing from Jay Buchanan and a guitar drone that anchors the piece. It’s not every band that could pull something like this off, but these guys do it fantastically.

Allegedly, the material the band was writing over the last three years found itself split into two kinds of moods, so if the titles are any indication, Lightbringer should be an uptempo, sunny affair. Darkfighter isn’t gloomy by any means, but it has gravity and weight underpinning all the songs, which makes it a compelling listen that only gets better.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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