Flood of Red - Leaving Everything Behind
Posted by Kuang on Fri, 06 Nov 2009.
I remember a strange little conversation in about 1992 - I was trying to convince someone that Bad Religion were the greatest hardcore band in existence because of their ability to wrap politics and social commentary in weapons grade hardcore without sounding tokenistic. She told me of a band that had recently formed in the states called Sense Field, who sidestepped the politics for subjects more emotional and close to home. That was the first time I became aware of emo as a genre, but I grew more disappointed over the years as I watched it become less about the music and more about the image. It seemed like an amazing opportunity wasted. Until now.
Flood of Red, a six-piece from Lanarkshire, have been around for a few years now and were generally associated with screamo or post-hardcore acts, but based on the evidence of their epic debut album 'Leaving Everything Behind' they've been through a whirlwind of transformation and anything linking them to that past would now be a huge disservice.
Opening track The Edge Of The World (Prelude) doesn't really prepare you for what's to come, a delicate, mournful reflection on childhood at home in 'the dullest town I know / full of darker secrets that no-one will tell'. It's tender and emotionally bruised, underpinned by waves of soft, ephemeral chords and lulls you into an uneasy peace. With little time to reflect, 'The Harmony' hammers in and abolutely pummels you with high, pure vocals soaring over a frenzy of plutonium heavy riffage. The dynamic shift is as unexpected as it is welcome, and paves the way for a fractured yet frequently hopeful journey through the band's emotional landscape.
'Leaving Everything Behind' slowly reveals itself to be a bewildering tangle of balances, between tidal waves of chaos and moments of exquisite calm, between tugging your heart strings and suckerpunching you in the gut. Tracks like 'The Heartless And Loving' come across like the school of hard knocks' answer to math rock - just as complex and dramatic, but more likely to crash cars in a fit of passion than read poetry in coffee bars.
The sense is one of focus and precision, a perfectly judged rollercoaster of density and sparseness with nothing gratuitous or wasted. It hints constantly at deeper stories, with tracks like 'Paper Lungs' recalling painful and raw memories of darker times. There's a brief reprise in the moody, atsmopheric self-analysis of 'Electricity', almost like a backwards glance towards the opening track, which them explodes into an unexpected restatement of the same lyrics in the intense 'I Will Not Change'.
You're on the home stretch now, snowballing through the subdued reflections of 'Losing All Hope In Fells Point' and the crushing 'Home, Run (2007)', emerging slighty frayed and battered into the arms of 'The Edge Of The World'. This time around the mood has shifted and the full track reveals a fighting spirit that picks you up, dusts you off and reminds you that the world can only do to you what you let it.
'Leaving Everything Behind' is a huge achievement - it's rare for a debut album to be so dramatic and clear cut, but even more so when the mass of contradictions you'd imagine are so effortlessly resolved. I'd go as far as to say this is one of my favourite debuts of the year. Best of all, you can visit the band's homepage to not only hear the album in full, but also download a free copy of 'Paper Lung'.