Tuesday 23 April 2019

Album Review: RIVAL SONS - Feral Roots

Rival Sons - Feral Roots

01. Do Your Worst
02. Sugar on the Bone
03. Back in the Woods
04. Look Away
05. Feral Roots
06. Too Bad
07. Stood By Me
08. Imperial Joy
09. All Directions
10. End of Forever
11. Shooting Stars

I've been aware of Rival Sons for quite some time now, but I never really gave them much of my time. I had them penned as another of those young bands trying desperately to sound like they're from the 70's and ending up as a generic pastiche of Rock bands from that era. I'm not entirely sure what made me give Feral Roots a spin. It was probably that cool looking dog on the front cover. However, now I've played this new record a few times, I think I may have done them a disservice.

Yes, I was right in the respect that they're clearly heavily influenced by some of the big artists from the 70's, most notably Led Zeppelin, Free and Deep Purple. They even have that image to make them appeal to Classic Rock fans and seem to adhere to most stereotypes. However, three things set them apart from the rest of the pack.

First of all, they do not sound like a carbon copy of any particular band, unlike the over-hyped Greta Van Fleet (their latest album reviewed here) who are pure Led Zeppelin. Feral Roots is a quite diverse album, mixing various styles and influences. It's all so familiar, yet manages to remain fresh and interesting at the same time.

Secondly, they have a subtle contemporary spin in their production values. There's some fat, dirty distorted bass on the first couple of tracks that give the record a 'modern-retro' vibe and remind me a little of the insanely popular Royal Blood (their last record is reviewed here). It's these subtle production methods that sets Rival Sons apart from bands that are doing something musically very similar yet sound dated, such as Thunder for example.

Third and most importantly, they're really fucking good. There seems to be countless 'Southern Rock' bands out there these days and any band that wants to be ahead of the pack has to have killer songs. Rival Sons have some undeniably massive tunes on Feral Roots.

Opener Do Your Worst sets the tone for the record perfectly with a huge filthy riff and a mountain of relentless swagger. It's a beast of a track and if this doesn't get you into Rival Sons, I honestly don't know what would.

The Soul-driven Shooting Stars is also an amazing song, and if it had been released by The Rolling Stones back in the day, or even The Black Crowes in the 90's, it would have been an absolutely massive hit worldwide. There's no question about that in my mind whatsoever. They certainly left the best 'til last with this song.

Feral Roots is a strong and diverse album with lots of surprises and hooks-a-plenty. I'm going to have to check out their earlier records now, as I fear I may have been missing out.


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