The second release in 2023 by Rival Sons follows June’s Darkfighter. If you have embraced the fluidity of this seminal band, then it’s unlikely that Lightbringer will bring any surprises, for it is as good as anything they have ever written.
Rival Sons – Lightbringer (Low Country Sound / Atlantic Records)
Release Date: Out Now
Words: Paul Hutchings
What it will deliver is a plethora of new music, which once more demonstrates the unique style that the band possess. To open any album with a song that touches nine minutes in length is bold. To do so when you are crunching deeply on your influences in an abstract way which sees the song ebb, flow, expand and drift into the deepest recesses of your imagination is simply incredible.
Such is the start that Rival Sons brings on Darkfighter. Yes, the band have intertwined the two albums in a clever wordplay that may leave you scratching your head, especially if you don’t follow them in the intensive way that many do.
Put simply, Darkfighter is the best song that any band has put out in 2023.
Gargantuan in every respect, the sheer audacity of this stunning band to provide such a statement is mind-blowing. Yes, it’s that good.
As Scott Holiday revealed to MetalTalk’s Monty Sewell recently, both Lightbringer and Darkfighter were conceived during the dark days of the pandemic. Over two years, as opposed to the usual 20-odd days that the band usually take. Perhaps it’s no surprise that this is more measured, balanced, and intense.
But back to that opening track. It’s a phenomenal song, showcasing the vocal qualities of Jay Buchanan, Holiday’s incredible guitar work, and the tightness of the rest of the band in combining to the extent that this is simply awe-inspiring. Elements of Zeppelin, The Doors, The Black Crowes, Fleetwood Mac, and a hundred other bands all flicker in and out of this song.
But this is Rival Sons at their finest. Delicate, at times heavier than it has a right to be, but always shiveringly Rival Sons in delivery. Holiday’s slide work, Buchanan’s vocals that eschew Plant, Vedder, Cornell, and the overall composition are such that you need to sit back and simply play this repeatedly. It is that good.
It may only be 35 minutes long, with Darkfighter taking up nearly a third of the album, but there is enough here to outshine those whose music lasts twice as long. Of course, it’s the second part of their double album set, but Lightbringer sees Rival Sons pushing their style and boundaries even further. It stands alone, tall, and proud but works even better when you listen to its companion piece first.
Once you’ve recovered from the epic Darkfighter, there are five other songs to enjoy. The fuzzy riff of Mercy, a live anthem for sure, resonates with light and the Sons magical groove.
Redemption sees the gentler side of the band, with Buchanan’s vocals surely at their peak. His wholesome performance shimmers with a magic that touches deep. Close your eyes, let it wash over you, and revel in the majesty.
Darkfighter was described as “fat-free”. Well, if that was the case, then Lightbringer is positively skeletal. Each track is cleverly crafted, providing ultimate exposure to the band’s songwriting capabilities whilst ensuring that the tracks remain as memorable as possible.
Switching from the raucous Sweet Life into Holiday’s delicious slide work intro to Before The Fire sees Rival Sons move up yet another gear. It leads to the final track, the soaring Mosaic, with its subtle country vibes.
It’s the perfect conclusion to an album that finds a band who have once more demonstrated that it is possible to reinvent and recreate without losing any of the originality that has made them one of the most beguiling and essential bands on the planet.
Rival Sons – Lightbringer – is available to order from here.