The conversation about the great rock bands of our time is incomplete without mentioning Rival Sons. Among the strongest and most original bands to emerge from the influence of ‘70s classic rock, the California-based rock outfit has released their seventh studio record, Darkfighter, their first of two albums slated for release this year.
Opening with the gospel organ of “Mirrors”, there is a sense of peace; a calming tone that signals for the band to expose with a sparse and rhythmic riff. Beyond the riff itself, the chemistry and syncopation between guitarist Scott Holiday and drummer Mike Miley is extremely reminiscent of that between Jimmy Page and John Bonham (Miley, I hear and appreciate those triplets in the kick tastefully dropped throughout the record). While rooted in ‘70s classic rock, there is a modern quality to the rasp and power behind Jay Buchanan’s stunning vocals. With an anthemic chorus packed with a deep momentum and a killer guitar solo, “Mirrors” is a striking opening song. Immediately following is the up-tempo “Nobody Wants To Die” a song that sees the band let loose over a driving number with Buchanan pushing his vocals to their fullest potential for an all-out banger.
Across the remaining six tracks, Rival Sons soar without a moment of weakness. From the Josh Homme-inspired strut of “Bird In The Hand” to the reflective musings of “Rapture”, the band flexes a rich understanding of songwriting that feels sophisticated without dulling their raw edge. modern rock, one which refuses to sit at the altars of their greatest influences, but rather uses the work of those who came before as a launching point for their own creativity. This is apparent on the thrashing flail of “Horses Breath”, the slow burning and ever so climactic album closer “Darkside”, and, of course, the showstopping “Guillotine”; a definite highlight on an incredible album that feels like the perfect representation of where Rival Sons currently stand on their creative journey. To hear the push and pull from roaring verses to soft choruses, aided by some of the best vocals in rock and scorching lead lines, that is “Guillotine” is to understand what makes Darkfighter such a thrilling record. “Guillotine” alone is a powerful masterclass in rock ‘n’ roll performance.
There is no doubt that Darkfighter will be among the greatest albums to emerge this year. As Rival Sons continue to demonstrate their worth as one of the most impressive modern rock bands, their latest release establishes them as a generational force for the genre. As the band embarks on a headlining tour, to be followed with a support role for The Smashing Pumpkins and Jane’s Addiction, along with a second album expected to drop, 2023 is building to be the biggest year for one of the most exciting bands around.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: RIVAL SONS – DARKFIGHTER