Rival Sons – Hollow Bones (Earache)

Genre: Classic Rock

“Guitarist Scott Holiday’s refusal to retire to the wings in spite of an unfortunate power cut only served to further endear Rival Sons to an initially sceptical crowd and it’s clear these boys have a very big future indeed.”

Five years ago RUSHONROCK caught a first, glorious glimpse of Rival Sons and even a painfully brief set in support of Judas Priest offered flashes of the band’s immense potential and superior songwriting craft.

Three albums later and expectations have been met, reputations reinforced and artistic boundaries stretched to such an extent that Hollow Bones sounds more like a catch-all lesson in classic rock than a standalone record.

Jay Buchanan and Scott Holiday have never lacked confidence – let’s get that straight right now. But Hollow Bones sees the Sons’ charismatic singer and sparkling lead guitarist freshly emboldened – exploring every facet of their favourite genre without any fear that they may have gone too far.

And the thing is, they just might have done. The follow-up to Great Western Valkyrie still leans on heavy blues and hard-edged rock but it’s much more than that. Take Thundering Voices – a theatrical juxtaposition of soulful musings and angular riffs that challenges convention and questions the band’s ultimate vision and end game. In terms of art at any cost it’s a song that suggests Buchanan could yet emerge as his generation’s Bowie – rather than their Jim Morrison – but is that a good thing? The jury’s out.

Opener Hollow Bones Pt.1 is done and dusted within three minutes: it’s almost cruel how quickly the brash opener is curtailed courtesy of a frenetic outro featuring a feisty Holiday/Mike Miley face-off. The latter remains one of the most underrated drummers on the planet but this is the record that cements his status and provides a shot in the arm for expansive rock and roll rhythm.

Risk is writ large all over this remarkable record. At times it makes breakthrough album Pressure & Time sound safe and who would have dared say that half a decade ago? Whether relying on short, sharp bursts of retro-fuelled classic rock or laying everything on the line within the epic Hollow Bones Pt 2, the Sons have gambled their careers on a truly courageous set. It’s a valiant stance but will victory be theirs? That ‘very big future’ is now.