Her Bright Skies- Rivals

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Rivals might be the first time that many of you are hearing Her Bright Skies, but the Swedish rock band has been around since 2005 and this is their third full length album. The group has a sound that at times sound like it is tailor made for the mainstream circuit, but rather than just hitting one particular style of rock the instrumentalists are constantly switching gears and hitting different stylistic elements. It may feel a bit too clean and polished for some people, but if you like melodic rock that’s got plenty of hooks Rivals fits the bill.

I’ve got to hand it to Her Bright Skies, as they really seem to change styles from song to song. Even though a lot of the sounds they create have a common base, the band is able to pull from alternative rock, pop punk, and some edgier hard rock influences and tie them all together. What this means is that one moment the instrumentals might offer soaring alt-rock melodies while the next the riffs have taken on more of a quick paced pop punk delivery. All of these songs have been written with hooks in mind, and the lead riffs that drive each one tend to have some sort of lingering melody or slightly aggressive edge that has the potential to get stuck in your head. It’s the kind of material that’s tailor made for radio play, and while that might not be a selling point for some of you it’s sure to give the group plenty of mainstream appeal and please fans of modern melodic rock. The only issue that I had with Rivals was that on the numbers where the group decides they want to get a bit edgier and have a rougher edge to their riffs the production really doesn’t suit it and as a result these songs didn’t make as much of an impact as they could’ve.

Lead singer Johan Brolin has the kind of voice that will instantly grab fans of the genre, as he often soars over the instrumentals with a mellow yet powerful delivery. There are a lot of vocal harmonies being used as well, particularly during the choruses, and this often gives Brolin’s singing the kind of larger than life feel that is so vital to hooking listeners. Her Bright Skies even goes for a bit of a post hardcore edge on opener “Working Class Punx” with some rougher vocals that are a little closer to screaming, but as with the instrumentals I found that these didn’t grab me nearly as much as the melodically oriented ones did.

I can appreciate the amount of variety that Her Bright Skies Brings to the table, but I’m not quite convinced that they’re able to pull off the rougher edged songs with the same kind of energy as their peers. The group stands out in my mind is when they really up the atmosphere and pull out soaring melodic choruses and thankfully there are quite a few moments on Rivals where this happens. As a result if you’re a fan of this melodic rock this is an album definitely worth giving a listen, and if the band can continue to expand on the hooks they showcase here it seems quite possible they’ll be able to break into the mainstream.

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