Review score: 84%
Review Date: January 2013
Reviewer: Paul Jack
Source: Rock Hard Reviews
Excluding the EP, 2012’s Head Down is the third studio outing for psychedelic / bluesy rock band Rival Sons. The California four-piece are making a big splash, and Head Down (or ‘head Down’ if you prefer) is noteworthy for being the number two album of the year 2012 according to Classic Rock magazine, which is a fantastic accolade and well deserved.
When I listen to head down I hear classic rock riffs blended smoothly with retro vocals intertwined with psychedelic melodies. Rivals Sons play with confidence and enthusiasm. It’s almost cliché to say this, but I’m going to be honest anyway and tell you that it has been a long time since I got so excited about a new album and a new-ish band. Which coming from a grizzled old hand such as myself is a complement indeed.
There are so many great tracks on Head Down that it could be a bit of a challenge to pick out a selection of playlist recommendations, but let’s give it a shot:
Keep on Swinging
Head Down’s opening track instantly tells us what the album title is about. Keep on Swinging has a clear message; keep your head down and keep on swinging with the persistence of a tired but determined boxer. Don’t give up, don’t give in, keep slugging away and working hard. The sound is that retro bluesy rock sound from the Led Zeppelin era featuring a combo of strutting, psychedelic guitars, a solid drum groove and swaggering vocals.
My god, if I could time travel I swear Wild Animal is such an amazing old fashioned pop rock song that it would be a contender for the number one spot in the seventies. Gentle vocals delivered with panache to a swaggering beat.
Until the Sun Comes
Also released as a single, Until the Sun Comes is a cheery, upbeat track. You gotta check out the guitar licks in this one. Vocals are soft and smooth, and the track is a bit of a foot-tapper.
Soulful, slow, moody and bluesy. Listening to this deep number with a glass in hand reminds me of the soundtrack for the Sons of Anarchy TV series. Jordan is a sad track about letting go of a loved one, hoping to meet them again in the afterlife.
All the Way
Love that cheery blend of raunchy guitar and drum with suitably entertaining lyrics. All the way is a proper old school rock number well worth a listen.
A faster paced, soulful and swaggering track with masterful guitars and that psychedelic swirl of passion and energy which Rival Sons do so well.
Manifest Destiny (Part 1)
Coming in at over eight minutes long, Manifest Destiny is an epic number. Guitars are simply amazing, I swear it reminds me of Jimmy Page kicking out the big riffs. While the long solo swirled and stomped its beautiful way along I drifted into nostalgia town, seamlessly moving from a wild west soundtrack and found myself reliving classic rock moments from the old legends such as solos from Hendrix, Deep Purple and other top notch legends.
It would be totally unfair to write off Rival Sons as being another Led Zep clone or support act for old school metal giants such as Alice Cooper or AC/DC. These guys may choose to play very retro rock but they do so with guts, skill and enthusiasm. Somehow this old school rock manages to sound simultaneously fresh and a blend of classic, a dichotomy which is hard to pull off. But Rival Sons pull this off with style. To sum up in one word both the album and Rival Sons themselves I will simply repeat the cliché: Exciting!
Track List (may vary)
- Keep on Swinging
- Wild Animal
- You Want To
- Until the Sun Comes
- Run from Revelation
- All the Way
- The Heist
- Three Fingers
- Manifest Destiny Part 1
- Manifest Destiny Part 2