Review : Rival Sons ­- 'Hollow Bones'

‘Hollow Bones’ is arguably the most important rock album to be released this year. Metallica could finally release their new album tomorrow and stand back and watch it sell by the bucket load, but the “we’re all doomed” naysayers would try and argue that if you took Metallica out of the picture along with AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Aerosmith, etc then rock is on its last legs. Rock needs an album from one of the many younger acts bubbling under to step up and raise it’s middle finger to the doom merchants with a royal ‘fuck you’. Hey, you might not be the biggest fan of Rival Sons, but if you class yourself as a rock fan, then you need this album to deliver… you and I, we need this album to deliver, and thankfully it surpasses the highest of expectations. A bona fide future classic album. The title track is split into two parts,’Hollow Bones Pt 1’ opens things up, while Pt 2 surfaces as the album draws to a conclusion a short time later. As Pt1 kicks off, it’s interesting to note how instantly recognisable Rival Sons now are, thanks mainly to the massive sound that guitarist Scott Holiday produces. You could stumble across this track on rock radio, and within a few bars of the opening, you would know that it was Rival Sons. The fuzz is set to stun and the drum work from Michael Miley is as dependable as ever. Never flash or over played, he hits the mark time after time, and holds his own in a band with such dominant figureheads in Holiday and vocalist, Jay Buchanan. Mind you, it helps that he has someone of the calibre of Dave Beste alongside him on bass. This is vintage Rival Sons. It’s big and beefy with a great performance from one of the best of the new breed of soul-drenched vocalists around today. Phil Campbell from label mates The Temperance Movement being another. ‘Tied Up’ is simplistic in it’s execution. A slow burning gem, where Miley steals the show with his seemingly effortless drum work. It’s a brooding few minutes that gives way to some nice work from Holiday as the song fades out. ’Thunderous Voices’ has a cool West Coast vibe, especially during the chorus and the mid section, where Buchanan reigns it in with an understated few moments. On ‘Baby Boy’, Miley’s drumming is again outstanding, similar to Charlie Watts with The ‘Stones, he keeps it simple and provides the beat for the others to impress upon. Simplistic, but crucial. ’Pretty Face’ is all about Holiday’s guitar as he lets fly with riff after riff. This will be a real highlight live, especially the moment where the band come crashing in on the chorus, and I love the feedback as the song fades out into… ’Fade Out’, a dark and melancholic track, where Holiday holds back on the fuzz, and the song builds to a heartfelt conclusion over wave upon wave of sonic guitar licks.
Initially a record store day exclusive, ‘Black Coffee’ is available here for your listening pleasure, without having to trawl through Ebay. An incredible tip of the hat to Steve Marriott and Humble Pie where superlatives come spewing forth as Buchanan totally nails it. ’Hollow Bones Pt2’ opens with an Aerosmith ‘Sweet Emotion’ vibe. There’s plenty of atmospheric bass from Beste, as his cohort Miley batters the living hell out of his kit. The music is timeless. It could be the late 60’s, the early 70’s, …or the 80’s… 90’s, who cares? It’s here and now, and it’s spellbinding. That just leaves the closing track ‘All That I Want’, featuring a stark and beautiful performance from Buchanan, where the other guys stay in the background as he bares his soul for all to see. Easily the stand out moment on an album full of highlights. ‘Hollow Bones’ is an album accessible enough that the mainstream press will fall over themselves to heap praise upon it. A return to ‘Later… With Jools Holland’ should follow on from their triumphant debut a few years back. Hand picked to open the final Black Sabbath tour as well as a mainstage appearance at this year’s Download Festival, this is an important album for Rival Sons, and rock music in general. Go explore it but my advice? Listen from start to finish in one sitting. Optimum aural pleasure guaranteed. ‘Hollow Bones’ is released June 10th through Earache Records.   Review: Dave Stott

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