The Riven – The Riven Review

Band: The Riven
Album: The Riven
Label: The Sign Records
Genre: Hard Rock, Blues
Country: Sweden
Release Date: March 1st, 2019

Classic hard rock is making a comeback with the release of The Riven’s self-titled debut album. Featuring a sound similar to classic acts such as The Rolling Stones and Thin Lizzy, this album proves that rock music is not dead regardless of what Top 40 radio would have you believe. All it takes is some friends from London, along with their Swedish friend to keep tempo, and a whole lot of old school sensibility with enough of a modern twist in the sound to keep things interesting.

The album begins with the track “The Serpent”, a headbanging, almost danceable song that gives the listener a brief taste of what to expect with the rest of the album. Pounding drums and bass serve to accentuate the bluesy riffing of the guitar with Totta Ekebergh’s fitting nicely on top of the overall sound. The album throws you a curveball with the second song “Far Beyond” with its reliance on a sound that is closer to that of southern rock, similar in sound to the early years of The Eagles, which should satisfy anyone that was rocking out during the heyday of these aforementioned bands.

As the album continues, you might really start to notice the guitar work of Arnau Diaz. As a guitar player myself, I try to envision myself playing whatever I am hearing and what I hear sounds like it would be really fun to play. The palm muted chords and bluesy licks, along with the bass thumping of Max Ternebring in “Edge of Time”, “Shadow Man” and “Finnish Woods” come together to create what in my opinion are the highlights of the album. Each of these songs has a wonderful and catchy hard rock style to them although they approach this sound a bit differently. Whether it is the non-stop riffing of the first two songs or the longer, drawn out intro of the third song which then develops into a frenzy of a song, this is definitely the highlight of the album.

The second half of the album starts off strong with “Fortune Teller”. The synergy between the band members is very apparent with the last part of the song which almost sounds like it was improvised during its recording. The slight shift in tone that they have going on at the start of the second half of the album carries over with the next song “ I Remember”, a song which could have very well written by a female led version of the Rolling Stones right around the Let It Bleed era but with a harder guitar sound behind it. The wonderful singing by Totta is truly highlighted during the quieter sections where the rest of the band takes a step back from the spotlight. That is not to say the rest of the band is absent, Diaz comes in towards the end of the song with a simple, albeit emotionally resounding guitar solo which ends the song in superb fashion.

After a constant string of songs that only get better as you go deeper into the album, the band decides to finish off the listening experience with a bang with “Leap of Faith” and “Sweet Child”. The former is a short song in the style of the first couple of songs on the album but this time with more of a polish behind it. Embodied by a dynamic energy and the subtle use of a wah pedal, it is a perfect penultimate song which will serve in showcasing the very last song. “Sweet Child” is arguably the most dynamic song in the whole album. Heavy intro, a great showcase of Totta’s singing abilities and a trippy middle passage before finishing, the song wraps up the whole album in a satisfactory fashion while also making excited for any new music that this band might release in the future.

The Riven came out swinging with their debut album. Not only did they pay homage to the great era of rock music in their own way but they also proved that great rock music is still being produced. Bluesy guitar licks and vocals are accentuated by dynamic drum and bass playing making for a great album with no dull track. The only thing I can think of that would help this music reach a higher level, in my opinion, would be with the introduction of a capable keyboard player to help give the music a more ‘proggy’ vibe. There is a fine line between rock music in the style of The Rolling Stones/Thin Lizzy and proggy rock music in the style of Jethro Tull/Styx but I personally would like to see the band take a risk towards the latter. This is an album with a lot of great songs that just seem to be missing a little something to make them excellent. Regardless, this is an album that fans of classic rock and hard rock should listen to if they are looking for a classic style with a modern touch.

Rating: 8.5/10

1. The Serpent
2. Far Beyond
3. Edge of Time
4. Shadow Man
5. Finnish Woods
6. Fortune Teller
7. I Remember
8. Leap of Faith
9. Sweet Child

Total Playing Time: 40:24

Click here to visit The Riven’s Bandcamp

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