Melbourne based alternative rock outfit Rival Fire certainly look set to become one of the bands that prove overnight success takes years of hard work to achieve. War is the group’s debut album, and the press release that accompanied the record doesn’t shy away from pointing out that ten of War’s thirteen songs were originally written back in 2014. Or the fact that all four tracks from last year’s well-received Riot EP are also present.
From opening number Slave, with its infectious main riff and sing-along pop-punk chorus, to the musical nomadism of concluding track Addiction, the time Rival Fire has spent with each of their songs is plainly evident in the quality of the group’s performance throughout. Sure, they may occasionally find themselves relying too heavily on repetition or muddying their sound with too many musical elements, as with Take the Fall which features both of these failings. And things can also feel a little formulaic at times, a little expected, despite the excellent nuances and variations that are applied to the music, but Rival Fire do it with such aplomb that it is hard to mind and Badman illustrations how they twist these weaknesses into strengths.
Dreams, with its moments of piano balladry, allows vocalist Rob Farnham to stretch his legs and display his versatility as a singer (hardly a surprise considering he is the son of John) as well as illustrating Rival Fire’s ability to change pace and shift tone. While nothing on War is groundbreaking, none of the blends of styles or sounds is particularly novel, the band’s wiliness to not pigeonhole themselves with a narrow sonic-palate is refreshing.