Review by Gary Spiller for MPM
This album has been a while in it’s coming to realisation but it’s most certainly been worth the wait! Six years, three Eps and countless gigs up and down the byways Florence Black definitely haven’t arrived at this juncture the easy way.
Considered to be at the forefront of grassroots Welsh rock this hard-rocking trio’s momentum appeared to have stalled, somewhat, in recent times.
However touring support slots with Hollowstar and fellow countrymen Those Damn Crows seemed to have reenergised the internal kinetic.
With all systems, once more, kicking they recorded demos with Michael ‘Padge’ Paget (Bullet For My Valentine) which then led into heading into Long Wave Recording Studio with Romesh Dodangoda (Bring Me The Horizon, Motorhead, Sylosis) at the helm. One of the final pieces of the rock n’ roll jigsaw being the lifeblood of financial support from the PRS Momentum Fund.
The resulting offering ‘Weight Of The World’ being the seismic output; a terrific product which will hit the ground at full sprint this coming Friday. Therein contained is a fierce sense of pride and identity carved out in times of adversity and prosperity alike; very much like the hard-hitting triumvirate’s hometown of Merthyr Tydfil in many parallels.
Named after Tydfil, daughter of King Brychan, who, according to legend, was slain by pagans Merthyr is a place of heritage and working class strife. This fine long-player mirrors much of those familiar streets and surrounding environs. It’s as rugged as Cefn Cil Sanws, with it’s tilted limestone plateau and defending cliffs of sandstone, that dominates to the north of Merthyr whilst possessing moments of clarity and purity akin to the mountain streams that tumble into the Afon Taf Fawr below.
As tight knit as the terraces of stone cottages there’s shades of dark and light within. As dark as the raven-black seams of coal that shaped Merthyr’s destiny and as light as the broad skies above the nearby Brecons upon whose thermals the majestic Red Kite circles.
The raucously rousing ‘Zulu’ heads out at breakneck pace with Tristan Thomas (vocals/guitar) stretching his sinewy vocal cords to almost breaking point without ever losing control. An atmospheric, almost sinister intro featuring some gentle fretwork from Thomas is soon knocked sideways by the stampeding herd of bassist Jordan Evans and skinsman Perry Davies who trample through the studio with Thomas agglutinating consummately. Early doors and the musical barbs have ensnared.
Thomas eerily whispers in coarse tones “You took me inside out, I won’t stop until the voices stop” before the main riffing body of ‘Inside Out’ kicks in with its size 12 boots. This is sheer and brutal much like the industrial past of Merthyr; the rock drills ring clear at the coal-face whilst the ironwork furnaces burn, as hot as the sun, in shades of ochre and titian.
Rapid-paced metallic power-offering ‘On The Ropes’ elopes with the gods of storm producing a wondrously harsh cacophony full of concentrated caustic riffs and rhythms. Lightning crashes into the mountain peaks from the darkened heavens and the thunder reverberates about the valley beneath.
The chilled vibes of the atmospheric ‘Sun & Moon’ calm the storm for a beautiful moment. There’s elements of Marillion’s Rothery and Pink Floyd’s Gilmour at times throughout with Thomas picking out resonant note after resonant note. Evans and Davies get in on the Floyd-esque moments with echoing strains of Waters and Mason. The temptation to break out into ‘Run Like Hell’ is personally strong but Florence Black have other ideas and steer a course back into the heart of the storm to intensify the power. If this isn’t a mainstay of live performances for years to come a major inquest will be required.
‘Can You Feel It?’ enters metalliferous realms in a powerful manner with soaring vocals and piledriving riffs that offer a “One way ticket to hell” before the gentle reflective accents of ‘Grove Street’ take me back to trouble-free times of my youth. Thomas sings reassuringly “It’s ok, don’t be afraid” as the listener is taken by hand to be led, perhaps, along The Grove.
A proud Celtic vibrancy runs throughout the headbanger that is ‘Black Cat’; a track that could well define the very best in Florence Black. Flicking effortlessly from Lizzy to Metallica the Merthyr trio soar effortlessly before swooping to lift their prey. Shades of both dark and light within as Thomas adopts the role of engaging storyteller. A tear falls as homelands are longed for.
‘The Deep End’ is classic Florence Black; chock full of bone-crunching riffs and volcanic vocals that melt the rock of the hinterland as rivers of white-hot lava erupts from the ruptured crust. Whilst the sensitive feelings of ‘So Far Away’ entwine themselves about a darkened, beating heart that powers along with the channeled ferocity of herd of thundering rhino before taking to flight with the grace of a flock of pure-white doves.
Buzzsaw licks emanate from Thomas’ fretboard as album-closing rocker ‘The Light’ rumbles into town atop a driving rhythm laid down by Davies and Evans. Florence Black notch another resounding anthemic track that gives credence to Merthyr is rising once more!
Don’t miss your chance to see FLORENCE BLACK live in the UK this October with Norwegian stoner punks, Bokassa. Tickets for the following dates are on sale now:
Wed 13th Oct – SOUTHAMPTON Engine Rooms
Thu 14th Oct – MANCHESTER Rebellion
Sat 16th Oct – DUBLIN The Grand Social
Sun 17th Oct – BELFAST Voodoo
Tue 19th Oct – GLASGOW Audio
Wed 20th Oct – WOLVERHAMPTON KK’s Steel Mill
Thu 21st Oct – CARDIFF The Globe
Fri 22nd Oct – LONDON Underworld
You can also find the affable trio performing at Planet Rockstock in November. For full touring details, please see the band’s official website at https://www.florenceblack.uk/.