Rival Bones – ‘Rival Bones’

By Chris Hilson

To a certain extent you know what you’re going to get from a two-piece rock band, but Rival Bones waste no time at all in showing off their talents. Opening song ‘I Want You Madly’ delivers everything you want by the shed load. Stomping guitars? Check. Huge riffs topped off with gutsy vocals? Most definitely.

Rival Bones are far from one trick ponies and ‘Marceline’ demonstrates that aside from regularly wanting to smash every note out of their instruments that duo possess a fine knack for writing catchy songs. James Whitehouse again showcases his impressive vocal range, but here he goes from delivering an understated yet crucial part of the verses to dominating each chorus with Dave Grohl-esque howls.

However there are limitations that come with being a duo, the most obvious being the lack of extra instrumentation that you can bring to your songs. Handled badly, you end up with a clutch of unimaginative soundalike tracks that tread the same path over and over. Thankfully ‘Hives’ delivers the perfect amount of its red hot riff throughout to keep you on tenterhooks as the drums of Chris Thomason crash around busily beneath it.

‘Running’ demonstrates that Rival Bones have a real ear for creating melodies that rise effortlessly out of chaotic riffs, and it’s arguably the best sounding song here. The bridge towards the end briefly finds Chris and James flirting with the radio-friendly stadium rock of Foo Fighters, and although it can’t quite match them for polish, it’s not far off in terms of quality.

Being recorded live gives ‘Rival Bones’ a depth of expression and feeling that would otherwise be much more muted. With Royal Blood recently demonstrating that the public have an appetite for two-piece bands that goes far beyond that of The White Stripes, Rival Bones are likely to take their swaggering riff-powered rock all the way to the top.

CHRIS HILSON

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