Rival State : Youth Tax E.P.

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’tis a hard life, the wanderings of a nomadic rock’n’roll band. With every survey in the UK saying that New Zealand is THE place to be, alt-rock outfit Rival State migrated in the opposite direction is search of (we assume) fame and fortune. cackblabbath.online caught the band at their first ever UK performance in a field at Knebworth in the summer and, impressed by what we saw at Sonisphere, we’ve been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new E.P., entitled Youth Tax.

Things kick off, well, unexpectedly. opening track Sleep Taker launches itself at you with a NWOBHM galloping riff before things settle down into a series of well crafted, well executed stadium-sized anthemic choruses and head nodding riffs. This is one of those releases that gets it’s curve ball out the way early (that aforementioned intro) before sweeping you up and carrying you along in fist-in-the-air style.

It is, as the cool kids would say, a banger.

You may have come across the first single off the E.P., Aces, which broke cover earlier this year. As a taster of what was to come it certainly whetted the appetite, and as a statement of intent, well, it made the band’s manifesto crystal clear. Having hit on the winning formula for Aces it may have been tempting to stick with that, but instead Rival State display a surprising range of feels over the course of the E.P. There’s definitely a hint of the American alternative about it, but it’s not saccharine sweet. Instead there’s an almost modern punk attitude that comes through from time to time.

Even when they take their foot off the gas for the “classic indie” vibe of Fall From The Sky there’s still an intensity about what Rival State do, this is one of those songs that could have been written at any point in the past 20 years. The musicianship is faultless, but here the vocals really come to the fore.. it’s brilliantly put together.

Huge riffs, huge choruses, polished production and huge potential. Soaring with the eagles one moment, down’n’dirty with the rats next, this is one of those E.P.s that leaves you wishing it was a full album.