Harkening back to the sound of old school rock n’ roll


Feral Roots, released almost a month ago, is the brand new album from the blues rock n’ roll band Rival Sons. The band is celebrating a decade of heavy touring and high octane riffs, and their sixth album is no exception to the norm they established for themselves.

“We spent more time writing, passing things back and forth. We spent a week in this place called Hohenwald, Tennessee, we had this little writing cabin. It was real far out, really quiet and beautiful,” said guitarist Scott Holiday in an interview with Guitar.com.

“We would just wake up and start writing together, then go out into nature, swim in the creek and then meet back up later, make a fire and talk about the things we’d seen that day.

It really set the tone for what we wanted to do, writing-wise, and gave us the energy. Then we went home and began to work on those songs, passing it around until things were beaten into shape.”

Rivals Sons signed with Nashville-based Low Country Sound last year after releasing four albums through Earache Records.

LCS is a Warner Music Group imprint run by the band’s longtime producer Dave Cobb, and its primary focus is releasing music from Southern country and Americana acts. This Southern atmosphere rears its head multiple times on Feral Roots.

From the album cover and title to the aforementioned inspired sound, Feral Roots sounds like it was written in the bayou. The album is a juggernaut and its production evokes the feeling of 1970s rock n’ roll. The buzzy guitars are in the front of the mix, with the vocals and bass flowing along to the sharp drums.

There aren’t any low-lights to be found here. The album spans 11 tracks and has a great mixture of hard rockers and ballads. The album has a spectrum of influences ranging from CCR, Led Zeppelin, Bad Company and even a little bit of the Rolling Stones.

The album opener “Do Your Worst” sets the tone for the album quickly with Holiday’s roaring guitars. “Back in the Woods” is an absolute adrenaline rush with Mike Miley’s frenzied drum attack throughout the whole song.

“Shooting Stars” has singer Jay Buchanan doing gospel-infused soul complemented by a powerful background chorus courtesy of the Nashville Urban Choir. The title track is almost a B-side off of Led Zeppelin III with the folky acoustic guitar. “Stood By Me” has guitar licks straight out of Motown and fantastic preacher vocals from Buchanan.

Holiday finds himself emulating equal parts Paul Rodgers and Jimmy Page all over this album, be it acoustic or electric. Buchanan has a powerful range and his raw shouted blues vocals match the energy coming from the guitars and drums. David Beste’s humming bass provides a solid, noticeable groove.

The only knock about the album is that it isn’t something that most people haven’t heard before. It’s so revivalistic that it’s almost exactly what you would expect. However, even though Feral Roots is fairly predictable, Rival Sons execute this perfectly.

Compared to other classic rock revival acts, namely Greta Van Fleet, Rival Sons manages to mimic the classic 1970s blues rock sound without sounding disingenuous. While some of this can be attributed to their ten years of experience and perpetually heavy touring schedule, there’s just something authentic about Feral Roots that not only makes it stand above the band’s peers, but also their own discography.

Parker’s Picks: “Back in the Woods,” “Look Away,” “Stood By Me,” “End of Forever”