Review: Hollow Bones

After being hand-picked to support Black Sabbath by the band on their final world tour, Rival Sons return in 2016 with their fifth studio album Hollow Bones. An album which singer Jay Buchanan notes; “this record, finally is the release of the unapologetic, wild beast that has long lived within the ribs of Rival Sons howling to be freed.”

Scott Holiday noted in an interview prior to its release the amount of blues on the album, as part of the process of challenging themselves. And that is perhaps the most striking aspect of Hollow Bones in comparison to previous outings, especially predecessor Great Western Valkyrie. It is no longer a facet in the musical arsenal but now an integral embodiment of Rival Sons essence. Nothing states this increase influence of blues more than the fiery and truly stupendous Fade Out, a staggering crescendo which sits on the album’s latter half. The album concludes on a more mellow and sombre note with the graceful ballad of All That I Want, demonstrating the band’s ability to craft a song of such delicate arrangements around the Jay Buchanan‘s hardest but yet most touching and brilliant studio performance to date.

Whilst the brilliance Fade Out and All That I Want are runaway stand outs, the rest of the material is no less on par. Kicking off with the short but sweet hard rocking of Hollow Bones Pt.1 and then into the imposing guitar buzzing riff and eclectic psychedelic passages of Thundering Voices, only betraying its intensity when the guitar solo kicks in and all elements converge. It is followed by the very different and yet both positively electric songs Baby Boy – which pulsates under rhythm of Mike Miley and Dave Beste with passages of thoughtful guitar work and harmonious vocal choruses – and Pretty Face – which casually rocks into an explosive and heavy chorus to Jay Buchanan shouting the title.

Hollow Bones sees the band come off sounding their most raw to date, with guitars sometimes buzzing slightly more on the wilder side than before. The vocals sound immensely clean but it comes more as if Buchanan is naturally clean sounding with the bluesy numbers exposing a more vibrant and slightly hoarse edge compared to previous efforts. Whilst the vocal talents of Buchanan and the striking guitar displays of Holiday being the most obvious displays, the contribution of Miley and Beste cannot be underestimated. Their driving and well rounded displays is what truly makes the album a timeless and enjoyable listen.

Ever since their emergence, the likening to Led Zeppelin – chiefly because of Jay Buchanan‘s similar vocals to Robert Plant – was both a blessing and curse in many respects. Whilst very few deserve the plaudits, and Rival Sons most assuredly do, it sometimes seemed as if they lived in the shadows of long departed British rock giants. However with Hollow Bones, there can be no doubt any more; Rival Sons have well and truly arrived. And it sounds glorious.

Rating : 10 / 10

Where to buy :

Track Listing :

  1. Hollow Bones, Pt. 1
  2. Tied Up
  3. Thundering Voices
  4. Baby Boy
  5. Pretty Face
  6. Fade Out
  7. Black Coffee
  8. Hollow Bones, Pt. 2
  9. All That I Want

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