It's been a long time since I heard a trio that sounded truly massive without adding in loads of extra instruments on their recordings. That trend has ended with As A Rival, a rock band from Melbourne, Australia. They're a band with a sound that is heavily influenced by punk rock while adding in more of the melodic elements of straight rock. Yet not once would you apply a pop label to them. Their sound is raw, in your face and full of emotion.
They've only been playing together for two years and yet their playing is as tight and together as a politician trying not to get caught with his pants down. As I listened to their EP, Concerning Trends, I heard the best of some local Chicago bands as well as Silversun Pickups but with energy. That last bit is especially true on the song "Arterial Warfare.” It's a bit slower and fuzzier than the rest of the record. The focus is placed more on the actual movement of the song than simply ripping the skin off of your face, which it still manages to do.
The EP's opening track "Warm Gun,” is the absolute sonic vision of what the rest of the songs culminate in. It's a song of desperation and realizationthat everything you've known is gone. It's up to you to fill in the blanks on where the song heads with its chorus. "Self-titled" is a step below "Warm Gun" in energy but it's lyrically just as bleak, questioning what life actually is and whether it means anything if you can answer the first question. The theme continues on the EP's title track, "Concerning Trends.” Musically, it calls back to circa-2004 when emo was starting to go the wrong way. Not to say that it's emo, but it reminds me a lot of the indie rock I was listening to then.
Overall, this is quite a dark listen if you go into it and really pay attention to the lyrics. If you're just listening, it is simply an incredible rock record.
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