When Chasing Dragons dropped their debut EP Checkmate in 2014 it felt like band had the world at their feet, and the sky was the limit. But then things just went a bit quiet.
A combination of real life getting in the way and a lack of funding (Sound familiar unsigned bands?) seemed to put things on hold for a while. The Leeds based quartet were still gigging but that early momentum seemed to have been lost. Faction: Prologue came and went with little sign of the promised album in sight, but then came that beautiful day in the Autumn of 2018 when the band’s debut album finally came into the world. But with all the delays, the big question was, was Faction actually going to be any good?
Answer? Oh fuck yes!
Trying to pin down and define Chasing Dragons sound is about as easy as getting a Jack Russel to read War and Peace so frankly there’s absolutely no point in trying. What matters however, isn’t the label, it’s the music itself and that most certainly will not let you down. The first half of this record is about as good as anything you’ll find anywhere this year. The three-track run of Parasite, Like Gravity and Bareknuckle Lover is frankly ridiculous. Like Gravity in particular, is the band at the peak of their powers. The cast iron groove that runs through it from front to back will have you nodding your head without fail, while the little descending bridge from the chorus back into the second verse is a thing of beauty. As for that chorus… Man alive it’s huge!
Then just as you think you’re done the frantic, chaotic and strangely mesmeric Bareknuckle Lover scoops you up off the floor for another round. The central guitar riff is as dirty as they come, and the lyrics dirtier.
That’s not to say that the band aren’t capable of moments of subtlety as well, as sections of This Time Is Ours, The Connection and Whitehorse demonstrate, but even then, the handbrake isn’t kept on for long.
I’m No Devil (I’m Just A Girl) is without doubt the album’s defining track. It’s slick yet crunching. A swaggering cacophony of hard-hitting goodness. Concussive drums, riffs and rhythms that lay waste to your hearing and a vocal that grabs you by the scruff of the neck combine in fine style to pull you through what is a spectacular thrill ride of a track.
You can trace the influence of any number of bands through the DNA of this record, but Faction ultimately stands alone and stands tall as a piece of work on it’s own merit. It feels like the band have taken the template for rock/metal albums and just moved it forwards, and the result is an album that has it’s roots in 50 odd years of metal heritage but still feels like it’s driving the genre forwards.
Faction is original, fresh, heavy and at times downright chaotic, but most of all it’s just an outrageously good record.
Faction is out now.