Home Read Classic Album Review: Rival Schools | United by Fate

Classic Album Review: Rival Schools | United by Fate

The N.Y. emo foursome hit the big time — but retain what they learned in the minors.

This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


The members of New York emo foursome Rival Schools came up through the hallowed halls of hardcore: Singer-guitarist Walter Schreifels and his three bandmates have done stints with indie-punk legends like Gorilla Biscuits, Quicksand, CIV, Glassjaw and Youth of Today.

As Rival Schools, they’ve graduated to major label-land, but their stirring debut album United By Fate makes it clear they haven’t forgotten the lessons they learned underground. Their guitars switch from soaring and clangourous to caustic and chugging at the drop of a pick, creating melodic yet powerful tracks. The midtempo backbeats are solidly propulsive but never venture into the dreaded rap-rock terrain. Schreifels’ raspy yelp lends an emotional urgency to his heartfelt lyrics. Their songs could use a little more crafting — most of these tracks are heavy with great riffs but light on memorable choruses — but for a freshman effort, United By Fate makes the grade.


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