Led by the former frontman of Quicksand and Gorilla Biscuits, guitarist Walter Schreifels, Rival Schools contain a who's who of the New York post-hardcore scene, and their first full-length actually lives up to the expectations raised by their pedigree. From the opening "Travel by Telephone" to the heavy-noise breakdowns of the instrumental closer, "Hooligans for Life," Rival Schools rarely let up on their melodic but forceful attack, and when they do briefly slow down, the success of their experiments often outweighs the failures. Pummeling tracks like "The Switch" show a commanding recognition of the member's past glories, but there is a rock aspect to the music as well, and Schreifels' stellar voice gives a constant boost to the band's effectiveness. This is tamer material than the past projects of Rival School's members, but when one considers pasts in CIV, Burn, and Die116, it sheds some light on how heavy the band can still manage to be. This is the alternative to all the metal out there, and Rival Schools join a group of talented bands who realize that there can still be some dignity brought to hard rock. United by Fate is an impressive first record for any band, and it looks like it may be just the beginning from a band who deserves some real recognition.
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AllMusic Review by Peter J. D'Angelo