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Rival: State of Mind

A Chicago metal band that has enjoyed more success in Europe than in its home country, Rival now takes aim at the U.S. market via its second album, State of Mind. Rooted in old-school heavy metal with flashes of thrash and speed, Rival has been together with the same four members since 1990. The band's sound is timeless, and the nine songs on the 35-minute State of Mind come off as if they could have been written and recorded anytime between then and now.

Vocalist/bassist John Johnson sings in a strong and aggressive voice that sometimes borders on the gruff, which only enhances his delivery style. Intoxicating guitar solos ("Lord of the Knights"), adrenaline rushes ("Hell Train") and head-banging melodies ("Brink") mingle with politically-infused lyrics about Al-Qaeda ("Tyrant") and the glorification of violence ("Reach"). State of Mind won't set the U.S. metal scene afire, but at least it's giving these guys a chance to be heard by a wider audience.

Track Listing:
1) State of Mind (4:03)
2) Extreme Aggression (4:04)
3) Reach (4:26)
4) Insane (4:08)
5) Tyrants (3:01)
6) Brink (3:29)
7) Remember You (4:13)
8) Lord of the Knights (3:48)
9) Hell Train (3:44)
Total Time: 35:00

Added: February 1st 2005
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official Rival Web Site
Hits: 4002
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Rival: State of Mind
Posted by Steve Ambrosius, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-02-02 08:54:20
My Score:

Rival is a two piece band, which just happens to have four members. Okay, so maybe I'm not really being fair to the tandem guitarists of Chuck McNulty and Neven Trivic, but Rival lives and dies by machine-gun drumming of Gary Olson and the vocals of John Johnson. Johnson is also listed as the bass player, but it is so far down in the mix that it really is nothing more than an extension of the bass drum.

Don't get me wrong, the above is not meant as a criticism. Rival's latest CD State Of Mind is mature, hard-driving, Metal in the truest sense of the word. The hook in every song though is provided by the lightning quick drumming of Olson. And once the vocals begin, the rest of the mix is delegated to the background. Johnson will never be confused with Axl Rose or Dio, but his vocals fit the music and give the CD a Deep Purple/Black Sabbath flavor.

The title track to State Of Mind starts out aggressive, fast, but yet sounding mature. A drive-by shooting is the introduction to "Reach", which breaks off into a form of Metallica metal mania. Solid lyrics on this and "Tyrants" keep this from being fluff. Songs that rock, yet still have something to say are rare in this genre.

Rival is not presenting anything new with State Of Mind, but what you get is an intelligent, solid sounding Metal CD. This is not progressive metal, nu-metal, or anything except pure Metal. This is recommended to those that stand on the edge of liking Metal as well. The maturity and the amazing skill of Olson are worth adding this to your collection.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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