RIVAL SONS – Hollow Bones

457305In all honesty, I’m not sure how objective I can be when it comes to writing a Rival Sons review. I mean, sure, if the album sucks, it sucks, but the thing is, I pretty much worship these guys. But the thing is, I was a late bloomer when it comes to this band. When I finally got my thumb out of my ass and gave them a chance, their third album Head Down (2012) had been out for quite a while, like a year or so which also meant that I also missed all of their concerts in Sweden including their appearance at Sweden Rock Festival in 2012. How stupid! How come a music nerd like yours truly decides to skip a band that is shit hot and plays the kind of classic rock that he loves so much? Well, because of the hype, that’s why. See, I can be a really stubborn, obstinate and bull-headed grumpy fuck when I choose to and sometimes when the hype gets too big, I just turn around and refuse to give in. Again, how stupid! But of course, there was not a chance in Hell that I wouldn’t come around sooner or later – I knew in the back of my head that someone would play me THAT song, the song that would make go “Damn!” and succumb to the hype and that is exactly what happened. One night in the company of good friends and some beer we all had some YouTube-time which means that everybody gets to choose a song each and we all listen to each others choices  – and someone chose a Rival Sons tune and that was that. I now own all their albums and I love them all – and I can’t wait until I get to see them live. So, a new Rival Sons album is a big thing to me – and I just keep my fingers crossed that it will be just as awesome as the rest of their albums.

One of the two title tracks of the album, “Hollow Bones Pt 1” opens the record and for me it’s enough to the hear the big, fat Zeppelin-influenced riff to know that the band probably won’t disappoint this time either. But what strikes me about it is how heavy it is, I almost get a metal vibe from it and the distortion reminds me somewhat of old MC5 stuff. The song isn’t commercial by any means, but it sticks right on the spot, very direct! In “Tied Up” we sure as hell gets a future single because this one is so catchy it hurts, still with a major groove and has the classic Rival Sons sound all the way – I guess this one will lift the roof off every venue they play on the forthcoming tour – a fantastic tune! The raunchy sound of “Thundering Voices” brings the two first albums to mind although it comes with a very melodic chorus that hits right away, another killer track. “Baby Boy” is a retro rocker digs up some early 70’s / late 60’s influences, still very rough and the melody has a striking pop feel – another one I guess will be a future live killer. “Pretty Face” also goes back to the beginning of the band’s career and the song is so very much Rival Sons sounding it almost feels like I have heard it before. Still it’s a very memorable song and the big pop feel is imminent. “Fade Out” is a slow, bluesy rock ballad that is Rival Sons all the way, but the main melody breaks out of the box and at times I actually think about modern hard rock such as Muse or Sixx A.M. when I hear it. No chance in Hell that it’s intentional, but still a very cool mold breaker. “Black Coffee” – a Humble Pie cover – is, in hands of Rival Sons, heavy, raunchy, bluesy, groovy and almost punky but the early 70’s / late 60’s pop/rock vibe is always present. With some gospel on top of it, the tune is a winner and though my knowledge of Humble Pie is somewhat limited, a quick listen on YouTube is enough to state that I prefer Rival Sons’ version over Humble Pie’s, even though the original is very good. The second title track, “Hollow Bones Pt 2” is very much a continuation of part one, but this second version is longer and quite epic with a more trippy vibe and a sister song to other epic tracks such as “Manifest Destiny Pt 1” (Head Down) and “Destination On Course (The Great Western Valkyrie). Instead of ending the album with a kick-ass dust kicker, they chose to close it with an acoustic ballad called “All That I Want”. It’s very emotional, melancholic and even somewhat tranquilizing. Still it builds up as the song goes along and in the end there’s both orchestration and percussion. A great tune and I really dig the way it ends the record.

Just like their four previous records, this one is an amazing effort and for the fifth time, the guys have managed to release an album completely without any bad songs. It’s impressing how a band can manage to write such killer songs time after another, how they can stay within their own sound without ever go on repeat or stealing from themselves, how every album is the same but still moving forward – I don’t think these guys could write a bad song even if they tried to. But what I find really puzzling – and a bit sad – is that Rival Sons aren’t a huge arena band by now. I mean, they have all the skills to be one. In a time where the old timers that still headline all the big events are about to call it a day – Black Sabbath are on their last tour, David Coverdale will retire Whitesnake next year, Aerosmith will say goodbye in 2017, Twisted Sister and Mötley Crüe recently bid their farewell and I’m sure that in a few years their will be no Rolling Stones, Kiss, Scorpions, Deep Purple or Ozzy Osbourne – we need the new mega stars and I say that in Rival Sons we have one of those. It’s time for the world to wake up and smell the coffee – make Hollow Bones the album that takes them there!

9/10

Other Rival Sons reviews:

Head Down
The Great Western Valkyrie

Tracklist:

1. Hollow Bones, Pt. 1
2. Tied Up
3. Thundering Voices
4. Baby Boy
5. Pretty Face
6. Fade Out
7. Black Coffee
8. Hollow Bones, Pt. 2
9. All That I Want

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