Chasing Dragons (Best of 2013 — Part 11)

I discovered this band purely by chance. Instigated mainly by my nephew (but also by others), I was attempting a Web search on “Imagine Dragons,” that overrated and overhyped band. But, as I tried to recall the name of that band I was searching for, I accidentally typed in the wrong name. Instead, I typed in “Chasing Dragons,” which is — let’s face it — a much cooler name for a band. But as I realized my mistake, I was nevertheless pleasantly surprised. For I had just discovered a much better band that was playing much more interesting music. I had discovered Chasing Dragons, the under-estimated and under-appreciated hard rock band from Leeds.

Two string-meisters, Mitch and Ant, handle the mayhem on guitar and bass. At the other two ends of this quadrilateral, on vocals and drums, we find the incredible Tank and the mighty Kate. All four of these outstanding musicians demonstrate an exceptional degree of talent.

I am very impressed with the way that Chasing Dragons stands out from the crowd. In addition to being riveted by their uncommon energy and passion, I am also very impressed by the careful artistry and consummate craftsmanship that they put into every aspect of their songwriting.

This band is so tight and generates such dramatic musical excitement that I could not believe my luck when I stumbled across them in their current relative obscurity. Who knew that hidden away in Leeds is such great musical talent, about to take the world by storm! I am hoping that they develop their fan base further and thus gain the wider recognition that they deserve. (It will be fun to follow their career as their future records take shape.)

Therefore, by the powers vested in me as a citizen of the republic of Progarchy, I am creating a special 11th spot on my traditional end-of-year, “Top Ten” list… for Chasing Dragons, my #11 for this year. I am taking this extraordinary action because it is in 2013 that I discovered this band, an epochal event which I want to commemorate somehow.

Luckily, I have a loophole: Chasing Dragons released a first-class single in 2013. By combining it with the material from their 2012 EP, “Take Flight for a Firefight,” I argue that Chasing Dragons has, as of this year, released enough music that, in composite, forms what I consider to be a solid LP of very impressive material.

The following is the playlist — the “virtual LP” — that I have fashioned for myself. I have been listening to it repeatedly. I argue that this playlist showcases a “Virtual LP” that constitutes, from beginning to end, a first-rate achievement. In my own mind, I christen this “Virtual LP” with the name “Seeds of Tomorrow,” because that Chasing Dragons song is arguably what should be considered their signature track:

Chasing Dragons — “Seeds of Tomorrow” (Virtual LP created from EP & Single):
1. Into the Pit
2. Under the Earth
3. Spawn of the Succubus
4. Mirror’s Edge
5. Black Velvet
6. Seeds of Tomorrow
7. City of Steel
8. Hindsight’s a Bitch
9. Let Sleeping Lions Lay

“Unplugged” Bonus Tracks:
10. It’s Bravery, Honestly
11. Spawn of the Succubus (Live Acoustic)
12. Into the Pit (Live Acoustic)

The first nine tracks as above form a solid 40 minutes of excellent female-fronted metal music. The last three tracks are 12 minutes of acoustic bonus tracks that prove the band’s remarkable musical versatility, thus pointing towards a promising future. By the way, “Black Velvet” is a cover of the tune by 1990 Grammy winner Alannah Myles, and it is even better than the original. So, I say that, any way you look at it, Chasing Dragons have shown themselves capable of producing not just the cumulative output of an LP’s worth of material, but of astoundingly upper-echelon material.

I myself think of the LP-sized slice of nine tracks above as forming a showcase of “Past” (“Into the Pit,” “Under the Earth,” and “Spawn of the Succubus”), “Present” (“Mirror’s Edge,” “Black Velvet,” and “Seeds of Tomorrow”), and “Future” (“City of Steel,” “Hindsight’s a Bitch,” and “Let Sleeping Lions Lay”). What I mean is that the band shows their “Past” first by singing songs with themes that are genre-bound in lyrical inspiration; then they showcase in the “Present” the fact of their undeniable ability as a band to write truly superb original songs and the fact that they are so talented themselves that even their covers can transcend the original inspirations and showcase the band’s unique personality; and finally they give some exciting indications of the directions in which their “Future” work might head. In short, this is a very dynamic band moving quickly, rapidly developing before our very ears, hurtling from one excellent achievement to another. The Virtual LP captures that truth in a musical snapshot.

If I had to pick favorite tracks by Chasing Dragons they would probably be “Mirror’s Edge,” “Seeds of Tomorrow,” and “City of Steel,” because of Tank’s great lyrics in them. But really, all the band’s tracks are excellent. Sample them all, and please notice how there are nice bursts of creative genius from all four corners of this band. As just one example, take this great line from the chorus to their 2013 single, their ode to hindsight:

If regrets were made of bullets
then we’d all be dead inside

Keep your ear on this band. If you like female-fronted metal, then be sure to try out all the tracks. As I have said, I find they all work exceedingly well together as a solid unit in the playlist order that I have invented and listed above.

Make sure you always buy music from and support the promising artists in our midst like Chasing Dragons. Indeed, this young band arguably has within them the “Seeds of Tomorrow.” Therefore, let me end my review here with a quote from their own song of that name. This song could be considered their musical signature. Arguably, its lyrics, paired with the powerful music, sum up how we should best construe the meaning of the band’s formidable name, Chasing Dragons:

Chase the demons away
Show them where the trouble’s at
Take up arms and fight
Show them that you won’t hold back

Chase your demons away
Show them you’re not here to play games
Take your life in your hands
Tomorrow’s ours
So let’s take it back

Thoughts?

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