2. How The World Went Black
4. Like Gravity
5. Bareknuckle Lover
6. For Kingdom For Glory
7. This Time Is Ours
8. Devil In Her Eyes
9. The Connection
10. I'm No Devil (I'm Just A Girl)
12. We Are The Wall
Chasing Dragons' Faction is the first album from the band who've been around a couple of years, so the name may be familiar to some, but I was not sure what to expect. Out of the gate the band are a full-on Hard Rock explosion with a female vocal, there's a mix of the down-tuned staccato chugging goodness of Modern Metal and a melodic female vocal (fully capable of pushing the envelope to some brutal screaming too), we have melodic motifs carried by both the guitars and the vocals here which keeps it interesting. There's a lot coming at you on first listen and it's very well played, this is a band who have got their chops honed and are at the top of their game.
I always find myself spending my first listen to a band listening for the unique track, the song that either shows up as the epitome of the sound of the band, or is so different from the rest of the tracks that it stands out simply because they don't play like that very often. About halfway through the album I felt that my moment of clarity arrived. The beginning of "This Time Is Ours" was my moment of thinking I had found something unique in the band's catalogue, therefore putting the rest of the album which had gone before into sharp relief, the song later picks up and hits a satisfying sonic zenith but I was relieved that the band brought it back down again afterwards, the band is not afraid of a quieter more melodic sound, so what made me happiest on listening to this album?
Getting to (and past) the half-way mark and this four minutes-ish of light relief which throws the song after it "The Devil In Her Eyes" straight at the listener more forcefully, to great effect. Another melodic highlight for me followed in the song "The Connection" built on a skeletal piano part and sustained wails from the guitar the vocals drift across the top beautifully, the song feels like it's aching to explode for a good two minutes, then it does, briefly lighting up brighter than magnesium in a flame before the coda returns to the gorgeous sound of the intro.
Just as effectively this moment of melodicism is followed by the full-on explosion of "I'm No Devil (I'm Just A Girl)" which is a marvelous rollercoaster of a song, in fact this one probably shows the band doing what they do best, it's full-on, then suddenly it's not, then it's back on again in ways that seem destined to get audiences singing along (or trying to).
To be honest, the first half of this album is like a fist in the face, a brutal "This Is Chasing Dragons" statement but the second half is a dynamic rollercoaster of "This Is What Chasing Dragons Can Do". The album is a perfect balance overall but the second half seems like the band stretching their imaginations more, while the first half is the statement of intention, a very well crafted hard-edged collection of tracks. The second half is a statement of potential, an equally well crafted, but more dynamic selection of songs showcasing the talents of the band perhaps more impressively for this reviewer.
Part of me thinks Modern Metal is getting away from my comfort zone. I feel like I'm getting old and set in my ways and that is disappointing me. I want to love the stuff, I can honestly see what's great about it, but I just feel like, because I'm not quite the target audience, or age range anymore, I struggle. This album though is well balanced having given me a moment of wondering if I am too old to appreciate the music fully and then gently reminded me during the second half of the album that I can still appreciate this music, I feel like I almost owe Chasing Dragons a thank-you... they tested my mettle with the raw, brilliant, brutal edge of the first half of "Faction" and they gave me a rich reward in the second half of the album.
Website - www.chasingdragons.co.uk
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/chasingdragonsuk/
Review - Mike McLaughlin