The cover of Rival Sons’ seventh album shows a tiger stepping out of the shadows, ready to stealthily pounce upon its prey. It’s the perfect visual metaphor for an album that likes to sneak up on you for surprise attacks (it’s not long before the stately church-organ intro of the opening “Mirrors” suddenly gives way to a blown-out boogie) while warning us of the imminent dangers we all face in this world. “Nobody wants to die,” Jay Buchanan dramatically declares later on in the song of the same name, “but they know they’re gonna have to,” so the LA band spend the entirety of DARKFIGHTER leaning into their reliable brand of anthemic, arena-sized blues rock like their lives depended on it. On belters like “Guillotine,” Rival Sons strike an uncanny balance between Soundgarden’s alt-metal muscle and The Black Keys’ rust-belt soul, while even a more melodic psychedelic statement like “Horses Breath” is underpinned by a rhythmic pulse that reflects the album’s seize-the-day spirit. This is a band that certainly practices what they preach: DARKFIGHTER was made in tandem with another 2023 release, LIGHTBRINGER, that further hammers home the fact that Rival Sons have emerged from the pandemic-lockdown era more powerful and prolific than ever.

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