Melbourne four piece may be a little late to the partyâ€¦
On paper Forgiven Rival seems to have everything figured out. They’ve played with some high
profile bands, they have a great sounding record under their collective
belts and they are willing to tour… but does the world really need
another band that mixes pop rock melodies with aggressive vocals and
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borderline metallic guitar work?
Starting out in 2004, Forgiven
Rival caught the attention Antiskeptic front man AndrewKitchen, who offered to produce some demos for the band. These tracks
appeared on FR’s self released EP and earned the group a nice
little fan base as well as spots on shows with acts as varied as Silverstein and Carpathian. While these accolades are all
good and well it doesn’t change the fact that the musical landscape
has changed a lot over the last few years, whereas Forgiven Rival’s
sound doesn’t seem to have evolved since their inception.
“Life Behind The Lies” is
the first cab off the rank and although the lead riff sounds like it
was lifted straight from an As I Lay Dying record the song itself
is fairly impressive. The chorus kicks in all the right places and there’s
a cool key change at the song’s half way point but you can’t escape
the feeling that you’ve heard it all before. Another thing that is
painfully clear (even at this early stage) is that the polished production
style has sucked the life out of the songs. Riffs that could potentially
sound heavy have lost any bite they may have had and the constant echo
on the clean vocals gets old really quickly.
As far as modern pop punk goes
“The Request” holds up pretty well. The guitar leads are catchy
and the harmonies throughout the chorus make it one of the most memorable
tracks on the album, the only problem being the unnecessary breakdown
at the minute thirty mark, which doesn’t really do anything for the
song as a whole.
I imagine the guys from Saosin
would be a little annoyed if they heard the lead riff of “In Case
Of Ignorance” as it sounds disturbingly similar to the Californian
quintet’s single “Voices”. “Through My Eyes” is a solid rock
song with a tough backbone which falls short when it comes to the chorus,
as the transition from tough verses to super clean melodies sounds cheesy
at best, while “We’re All Soldiers” didn’t do enough to stand
was the instrumental number “Reflections”. The well placed acoustic
guitar sounds great with the rest of the mix and I’d love to hear Forgiven Rival experiment further with these kinds of open sounds.
Although “Like The Effects Of The Wind” is formulaic it is hands
down the best song on This Is A War. Simply put, radio ready
choruses are the order of the day! “Time Is Taking Over” and “Is
Anybody Listening” were over before I’d realized they’d even begun,
but the staggered beats of “This Is Your Song” do an admirable job
of breaking things up as the album draws to a close.
Forgiven Rival has demonstrated that they have a lot of potential, but they need to
shit or get off the pot. Either they adopt a heavier approach and write
songs with more consistent metal elements or they should ditch the screamed
vocals altogether, as it does nothing for their sound. Joel’s
voice has no middle ground, it’s either a heavily produced croon or
a scream which gives the songs an almost cut and paste feel. I’d love
to see what FR can accomplish if they knuckle down and write
a more cohesive batch of songs, but at the moment they aren’t doing
anything you haven’t heard before.