I would love to know how the name Chasing Dragons came about, because it sounds suspiciously like the result of one of those metal-band-name generators that used to do the rounds on Facebook. The Yorkshire group already have two EPs under their belt, the most recent being 2016s Faction: Prologue, the prelude to their upcoming debut full length album, unsurprisingly named Faction. For any who haven’t heard that EP, two of the three tracks are repeated on Faction so you won’t be missing much. Faction: Prologue was an enjoyable, straight forward modern metal album, with melodic riffs combined with hook laden choruses. Yet, it felt like something slightly more unconventional and ambitious was lurking just under the surface: something I am hoping has been more fully explored on Faction.
It becomes apparent after a few tracks that pinning Chasing Dragons down simply as ‘melodic metal’ is doing them a disservice. The broad range of influences is much more apparent than on their EP, with elements of NWOBHM, metalcore, pop-punk, thrash and even progressive all appearing at various points and in different combinations. The guitars strike an incredible balance between technicality and musicality, knowing when to throw in bursts of shredding and when to hold back and let a melody speak for itself. The two are often interwoven in a way that makes the guitar parts ebb and flow, rarely growing tiresome or wearing. The rhythmic interplay with the drums also speaks of great technical ability. The drums often match the rhythm of the guitar part rather than playing a straightforward groove behind them. Indeed, drummer Kate seems to actively mix up the drum patterns so that she is playing anything but a straightforward rhythm. Devil In Her Eyes perfectly epitomises what Chasing Dragons seem to be trying to achieve with all this. The subtle musical embellishments to the guitar and drum parts make it far more interesting than your typical metal single, yet the soaring chorus (complete with perfectly timed guitar squeal) give the listener an instant hook from the powerhouse of a vocalist that is Tank. The same could also be said of For Kingdom For Glory and I’m No Devil (I’m Just a Girl). The former will appeal to anyone after a melody with that power-metal feeling of righteousness, whereas the latter has a gloriously over-complicated drum part for the verse before it holds back to let the vocals draw everyone in with the ‘woah oh’ ridden chorus.
However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. While they do not reflect badly on the album as a whole, there are several moments that will leave some listeners frustrated. In most cases this is due to the feeling of unfulfilled potential. Notable examples are How The World Went Black, where the chorus doesn’t pack as much punch as it needs, and Like Gravity, whose lack of rhythmic change between the verse and chorus means it drags a bit before the excellent middle eight and guitar solo parts kick in. While these are minor issues, there is one song that lets the album down: Bareknuckle Lovers. The impact and energy of the opening is completely negated when it abruptly stops to make way for the stomping radio-bait that is the rest of the song. The Halestorm-esq sleazy lyrics will appeal to some but they lack emotion on the chorus. The song has little in the way of fun about it, but neither does it have the intensity achieved by the likes of Halestorm’s I Get Off. Rather than being bareknuckle, these lovers still seem to have the training gloves on.
Chasing Dragons have all the components necessary to make them a master in their chosen field. The combination of technically talented musicians and obvious skill in composition has made an album that can instantly hook you and yet provide enough underlying detail and depth to reward the repeat listener. Granted, there are some moments that never quite reach the heights they seem to be aiming for, and (ignoring the intro) Bareknuckle Lovers is a glaring elephant in the room, but these moments are outweighed by the rest of the album. As long as you like some combination of heavy and melodic then there will be something here to satisfy your musical cravings. This Yorkshire group are certainly chasing dragons and are very close to catching them.
Highlights: Parasite, Devil In Her Eyes and I’m No Devil (I’m Just a Girl)
Faction is released on October 5th 2018 and can be purchased here.