For Chain Of Flowers, this is a debut that’s been a long time in the making. From popping up in blogs and magazines in their formative days over three years ago, the Cardiff six-piece have worked both tirelessly and on their own terms ever since. Frustrated at times, they’ve been forever honing a vision that’s finally come to be realised in full form. These tracks may have been recorded over eighteen months ago, but on the basis of their ever-sharpening live show, Chain Of Flowers is the expressive sum of a band just hitting their stride, capturing every essence of that live experience on record.
It is, ultimately, an album underpinned by the pessimism and anxiety of its narrative, but the anguish and emptiness of Joshua Smith’s lyrics are filled to the point of overflow by what unravels around them. Opener ‘Nail Me To Your Cross’ sets out Flowers’ stall with a high-octane embrace of the biting post-punk ferocity and blurry, distorted atmosphere that defines this debut. It’s followed up by the blistering ‘Crisis’, which lays bare the band’s knack for soaring guitar lines that emerge from the haze as they latch on and head for the skies aboard drumming that drives the record forward at relentless intensity.
Chain Of Flowers is a record that for the most part just continues to build, but with enough nuance and floating melodies to keep things interesting. They’re a band giving everything here, continually pushing things to the limits of what’s possible, and leaving everything in their wake in a state of overwhelmed exhaustion. That said, breaks in the storm help to polish this debut, transforming what would have been a much-needed statement, in to a dynamic, well-rounded collection that carries potential for future work as well as cataloguing a journey to this point. ‘Glimmers Of Joy’ is the most notable in that regard. Given more room to work, the track displays a reserved but apparent inclination to utilise a more synthetic palette, and when you consider the way that contemporaries like Lust For Youth and Cold Showers have reshaped to such great effect in recent years, you can envisage a wider sonic path from which the band can express their gloom.
These are just glimpses of new blood however, ones that by no means undermine the individuality or accomplishment of this debut, nor overshadow the here and now of this band. As 9-minute closer ‘Drained’ rings out, it grants you the breath needed to consider the full impact of a truly impressive debut. It’s as if despair and anxiety belong, pent up in the very fabric of this record, but with wave after wave of sound, Chain Of Flowers give everything to blow it away.