Rival Sons: Great Western Valkyrie Review

Five years to the day after the release of their debut album Before the Fire, Rival Sons unveiled their fourth full-length album Great Western Valkyrie, the fifth official release in as many years that has already gained the recognition and approval of critics around the world. Featuring ten new tracks, with two additional originals and select live and acoustic numbers on the disc’s deluxe edition, Great Western Valkyrie delivers in every way a Rival Sons album is known to: it’s fresh and edgy for the modern rock fan, complete with the thoughtful lyricism and brilliant musicianship that have made Rival Sons stand out from the very beginning.

Rival Sons are on top of their game with Great Western Valkyrie. Given the overwhelmingly positive reactions to each of the band’s past releases, this isn’t a new trend for the Southern California quartet. Despite a significant lineup change last summer (bassist Dave Beste stepped in for former founding member Robin Everhart), Rival Sons sound as tight as when their fan-favorite 2011 album Pressure & Time hit stores. The electric opening riff of “Pressure and Time” acted for many at that time as a burning flare, enticing new listeners to investigate this new rock collective whose vast vocal range and expert instrumental interplay placed them on the same level as several of classic rock’s most respected groups. Similar elements of power and precision appear on “Open My Eyes,” the first Great Western Valkyrie track Rival Sons unveiled earlier this year for use in the album’s first official music video. Though “Open My Eyes” carries a slower tempo than “Pressure and Time,” Jay Buchanan’s vocals deliver an unequivocal force that gleans an extra oomph from Scott Holiday’s bold guitar licks. While Beste’s sly undertones add emphasis to the varying tempos throughout the album, Michael Miley’s drumming is superb as usual. After a cool and composed attack on the kit for album opener “Electric Man,” Miley provides perfectly timed support for Holiday’s interludes on “Secret” and “Play the Fool” before taking time for his own blitzkrieg solo, woven beneath the ethereal layers of “Destination on Course.”

As one might expect, Rival Sons’ bonus tracks are not to be taken for granted. “Too Much Love” falls in line with some of Rival Sons’ best pieces with its driving riffs while “My Nature” recalls the tender subject matter of past works “On My Way” from Before the Fire and Pressure & Time’s “Only One.” Even on their tranquil tracks, Rival Sons are a force to be reckoned with, performing in synch with one another while retaining their freedom to add their personal touches to each and every song.

Created during a six-week studio lockdown in Nashville, Great Western Valkyrie is Rival Sons, pure and simple. Fans and critics alike have come to expect the explosive combination of skillful musicianship and precise performances on new Rival Sons material, and Great Western Valkyrie does not disappoint.

The Review: 9.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Electric Man
– Open My Eyes
– Belle Star
– Destination on Course
– Too Much Love

The Big Hit

– Open My Eyes

Review by Meghan Roos

Buy the album: Amazon | iTunes

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