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Album Review: Forgiven Rival - 'This Is A War'

5 March 2008 | 5:04 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

Melbourne four piece may be a little late to the party…

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


One thing I did thoroughly enjoy

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.

  1. Life Behind The Lies
  2. The Request
  3. In Case Of Ignorance
  4. Through My Eyes
  5. We Are All Soldiers
  6. Reflections
  7. Like The Effects Of

    The Wind

  8. Time Is Takin