Friday 24 January 2020

Revival Black - Step in Line (2019)

Country: UK
Style: Hard Rock
Rating: 8/10
Release Date: 11 Oct 2019
Sites: Facebook | Instagram | Official Website | Twitter | YouTube

I've tried to keep up with the New Wave of Classic Rock here at Apocalypse Later in 2019 and, to see if I did OK, I checked out how the Facebook group of that name voted at the end of the year. Well, I reviewed four out of the top ten, as voted for by members, which seems pretty good, but only one more from the top twenty, as voted for by admins, which doesn't, especially given that that top twenty also contains another three albums as a bonus.

Only four albums made both lists and the most successful band were Germany's New Roses, members placing them fourth and admins second. I've already taken a look at Nothing But Wild, so I'll take a stab at the next most successful band on the list. That's Liverpool's Revival Black, whose debut album ranked sixth by the members and first by the admins. I should add that the members put the Kris Barras Band top of the list with Light It Up and also included my highest rated NWoCR album last year, Feral Roots by the Rival Sons, which was my Album of the Month for February.

While they play in a completely different style, Revival Black are a similar band to Decimator, the Brazilian thrash outfit I reviewed yesterday. Neither is particularly original or subtle, but they don't try to be. What they plan to do is kick our ass and keep doing it until their time is up and I'd say that they're both doing a fantastic job of it. I'd love to see both bands on stage because it feels like that's where they would thrive most.

The way Revival Black kick our ass is with an incessant, dense sound that's made all the more dense by a vicious slide guitar. I read that they used to be called Black Cat Bones, perhaps as an homage to the late sixties band of that name which featured Paul Kossoff and Simon Kirke, both later of Free. I hear plenty of that blues rock sound here, though this performs it on speed. It's kind of like a meeting of the soulful power of Bad Company, the sleazy eighties rock of Whitesnake and the blistering guitars of southern rock.

Many will focus on singer Dan Byrne, fairly because he has a real stormer of a voice. I hear plenty of Paul Rodgers in his voice, with David Coverdale in there a lot too and maybe even some W. Axl Rose. If I'm reading the history properly, he wasn't part of Black Cat Bones, joining the band as they became Revival Black. I don't know where they found him, but they should be really happy that they did.

All that said, it's hard to not see the guitarists as the band leaders. I'm not sure if Alan Rimmer is the only lead guitarist or if Adam Kerbache joins him in that role, but whoever unleashed the blistering solos on every track here is worth their weight in gold. Give You the World is a showcase, with those guitars starting and ending like Stevie Ray Vaughan and turning into Dave Hlubek of Molly Hatchet three minutes in. It's a guitarist rather than Byrne who kicks the album off too, just like they're Slash and this will be Revival Black's Appetite for Destruction.

There isn't a bad song anywhere to be found and I didn't find an average one either. Everything is either worthy single material or destined to become a live favourite. Midnight Oil follows the bluesy Whitesnake approach but amps it up. All I Wanna Do is like the drunken bastard son of Bad Company's Feel Like Makin' Love. No Secrets, No Lies and Silverline both kick off like they might have been Georgia Satellites songs and anyone who can rival that band in sheer energy is surely going to slay live.

I'd throw out my favourite tracks for posterity but I may elevate others on my next listen. I don't know enough yet to say whether it's really the best New Wave of Classic Rock album of 2019 but it has to be in fair competition for that title. It's certainly the hardest rocking NWoCR I've heard so far, which is a title worth fighting for in its own right.

This album is great on a first listen and it gets even better when we're familiar with it. I might wake up tomorrow with something from Step in Line playing in my head, but it might not be the vocals; it might be the bass of Jamie Hayward that brings us into So Alive or the guitar solo from Hold Me Down that sounds just like Rimmer or Kerbache is bending a lightning bolt.

And, if you're reading back home in Blighty, Revival Black are currently on tour around the UK with Scarlet Rebels in support. That's two of only four bands to make both the members and admins lists at the New Wave of Classic Rock Facebook group. It sounds like a gimme to me.

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