Since their self-digitally released debut album, Before The Fire, Rival Sons have always been considered “one to watch”. Riding on the momentum of that album, and their recently released self titled EP, the band are looking to create more of a buzz with their second LP, Pressure & Time.
Opening track All Over The Road does contain a lot of power to it, which from the beginning increases energy levels in the album. The drums in particular stand out because they are very well produced and Robin Everhart does a great job in being consistent in every track. The guitar also sounds good although they do appear to rely heavily on the drums to move the track from point A to B, which shouldn’t always be the case.
Young Love follows and it’s the vocals that stand out because the guitar and drums become too familiar to notice after All Over The Road, I’m not saying they’re bad, they are good, but they don’t have enough raw quality to them to take notice. Jay Buchanan’s vocals sound great on this track because they kick off with a great Johnny Cash impression, only to then explode into a voice with a lot of power to it. Buchanan’s vocals mixed with the backing vocals during the chorus introduces a rock ballad feel to it, as the backing vocals in particular are similar to the “whooaahhohhh!” vocals in Livin’ On A Prayer by Bon Jovi.
Rival Sons’ blues-rock sound will obviously get them compared to other bands of the same genre like The Black Keys and The White Stripes. But what makes this band stand away from those bands is their four piece formation and more notably, their foundation of bass and drums, which has the potential to create a great tangent from a lot of today’s well known blues rock bands. Unfortunately, the bass is barely heard on any of the tracks, but also stops the guitars from sounding like a true rendition of blues, as the mixing has caused them to sound a little too quiet. This is where duo blues rock bands like The Black Keys and The White Stripes excel in this genre of music because they only contain guitars that are allowed to literally rip apart songs, and it’s that drive which sadly lacks in Rival Sons’ sound, which is why they pale in both comparisons.
The amount of influences that this record projects is astounding, every track sounds different from the other, there are hints of Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Free, and a touch of Hendrix, overlooked entirely by the sound of Black Keys and White Stripes. What is produced is an album that is constantly expanding to reach every nook and cranny of the Rival Sons’ sound.
Pressure & Time is a very solid debut record, it makes a mark on the genre of revivalist blues rock, and sticks its flag in it. While I would prefer to listen to the raw power The White Stripes contain, I would not dismiss this album as nothing special. Rival Sons are clearly a band who have identified and gotten comfortable with their sound, and I can’t wait to hear what other roads they drive it down.