Review by Ritchie Birnie for MPM
Most bands would be happy to produce one outstanding album in a year but Rival Sons have just released a second in Lightbringer and what a one two punch these albums produce.
Like stepping through a door Rival Sons have left the darkness of Darkfighter behind and opened up to a whole new exploration of what Rival Sons are in 2023. This album is steeped in the 70s and embrace everything the boys have been doing since their inception.
If Darkfighter was gloomy in its outlook Lightbringer is the complete opposite but with either light or dark reflections laid bare these albums have a band completely in their own space and time and reflects musical genius.
The album opens with the lengthy “Darkfighter”. This is over eight minutes of brilliance from the band. It has an amazing lyrical journey with Jay Buchanon starting from an emotional shaky start before producing some of the best vocals I have heard for some time. This is Rival Sons at their thought provoking best.
The entertwining acoustic and electric guitar mixed with a powerful, punchy rhythm section flits from bluesy, soul searching depths to unfiltered rock highs with some incredible flamenco guitar work from Scott. This song is a masterpiece and covers the price of the LP/CD in one go.
I actually had to pause after Darkfighter to catch my breath and take in what I had just heard and as I clicked play on the opening fuzzy guitars of “Mercy” I was instantly transported back to the excellence of Feral Roots and that Southern sound rolled over me once again.
This is a soaring number that can only fill you with exuberance and joy. Scott is on fire once again and this feels like he has just been let free and flying like an eagle on the wind as he winds from high to low, simple to complex and then landing as the songs wraps up.
Everything is slowed down again on “Redemption” and regardless of the drop in pace you feel no dip in the grip the band have on you, you are hanging on each note and each beautifully sung word. Rival Sons excel at these slow numbers and this song will take a hold in your heart and your head.
Time to kick the tempo up, shake your maracas and get your groove on in “Sweet Life”. Michael Miley is pulling out an eclectic Jazz drum beat throughout and this keeps the song on its edge the whole song through. This song leans heavily on the bands past and is as Jay states…a barnstormer.
We hit those trippy 70s again with the intro of “Before the Fire” as we slide across the fretboard before kicking into a beast of a Rock number that has glimpses of Maiden, Sabbath and Rainbow. Things have jumped up a few gears and Jay’s urgency has lifted and his vocal work is insane.
It is a song of letting go, of loving what you had but putting it in its place and leaving it in the past and moving on. It epitomises these two albums, the journey the band have been on and the path they are now blazing, a future that will see them rise to the statute of festival headliners.
Final track “Mosaic” really does wrap up this double album story. Jay almost spoken words this song and the journey these albums have taken them and us on. This is a worldwide radio hit waiting to happen. It will appeal to many a genre lover. This is a Glastonbury headline act song that would see a huge audience singing at the top of their voices.
It has an indie Rock feel and that will be where a huge new number of fans come from but it does not let go any of the Rival Sons legacy. This song details the mosaic that these two albums are, the happy, the sad, the darkness and the light.
2023 is going to be a massive year for Rival Sons as Lightbringer and Darkfighter are two huge pieces of work filled with magnificent songs, incredible music and the best work they have ever done. They really are beautiful albums that make your heart beat, your soul sour and stamp your belief that music can affect you like nothing else in the universe.
- Sweet Life
- Before The Fire
PRE-ORDER/PRE-SAVE LIGHTBRINGER HERE