For classic rock fans, Rival Sons are the band they never thought they would hear. In an age filled with over-produced, computerised music, Rival Sons provided hope. The Californian quartet brought with them the blues infused swagger of the Rolling Stones, the drama of Deep Purple and the heart and soul of Led Zeppelin.
Scott Holiday's fuzzy guitars scream over the opening bars of Hollow Bones Part 1 and Jay Buchanan's vocals sound better than ever as he glides through the stomping chorus. Holiday's guitar work is also brimming with confidence, breaking out ala Jimmy Page by experimenting with guitar sounds. The resulting effect is a much more layered sound for the band. Percussion-wise, Dave Beste's rapid bass lines really drive the heavier songs when paired with the accented drumming of Michael Miley.
The album blends blues and rock elements by alternating styles, rhythms and tonality. All these elements work perfectly and really builds on the work from their acclaimed 2014 album Great Western Valkyrie. Thundering Voices is a riff heavy song, but Holiday's refrains are every bit as fruity as the tremendous melody line. From here on in the tracks are multi-layered with Buchanan's dexterity shining throughout the masterful musicianship.
Baby Boy has a southern blues feel to it and some mature and poignant lyrics. Pretty Face, has a ring of Humble Pie and Buchanan imbues his performance with the passion of Steve Marriott along with his gruff and longing vocals. Continuing the 60s influence is Fade Out, which drops in some melancholic guitar riffs and tender but desperate vocals. It's one of the best pieces of work on the album and the arrangement is terrific. It's very much an AOR track; it's gutsy, moving and the feel of solitude and isolation in the make it darkly beautiful. There's no doubt that their song-writing abilities and cohesiveness as a band have really excelled on this album.
Black Coffee, a track made famous by Humble Pie and Ike and Tina Turner is given a tremendous Rival Sons reworking. Buchanan's cracking vocals are simply on fire here. The duel guitar and soulful backing help to make the track as buzzing as a caffeine high. Hollow Bones Part 2 has a very different dynamic than it's companion song, it's hard rock meets spiritual. Holiday and the band lead a driven and impassioned rock underlay, whilst Buchanan soars above with evangelical fervour. All That I Want strips back the guitars, replacing them with a delicate string accompaniment that compliments Buchanan's tender and exposed performance. It's an emotional finale to a strikingly brilliant album.
Rival Sons continue to put a new twist on an old genre, pushing forward their own brand of blues rock. Hollow Bones is epic and nostalgic, don't let the title fool you, there's nothing hollow here - It's their best record yet.
Groupie Rating 5/5