Tiger Flowers- Dead Hymns

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Thursday, July 10, 2014

Tiger Flowers released their self-titled EP almost three years ago, and it brought the band into the spotlight as a promising NYC act. Each of the four tracks on the EP had a mix of heavy hitting hardcore/metalcore that seemed to recall Coalesce and Deadguy at certain points, and the longer track lengths allowed the group to move between the standard angular and abrasive sound and some slower melodic sections. It had potential, but I found that at that point in time Tiger Flowers still had some room left to grow as there were moments that dragged. Now the band has released their debut full length Dead Hymns, and they’ve clearly grown tremendously as songwriters. The songs are much shorter than before and the move between all-out aggression and somber melodies is now spread across the entire album. It goes by fairly quick, but this is the type of release where songs will be stuck in your head after just one listen.

With Dead Hymns Tiger Flowers has found the perfect balance between the two distinctive sides of their sound. Although there are quite a few tracks on this album that slow things down a bit and up the melody significantly, don’t mistake that to mean that the band has mellowed out. There’s still a jagged edge to the softer moments, and the instrumentalists are still more than happy to dive right back into in your face hardcore punk on songs like “Cruisin’ Till the Wheels Fall Off.” When these guys go into attack mode, they don’t drag things out quite as much as they did on their EP, instead choosing to hit as hard as possible and then move on to something else so that the impact stays at its highest possible level. Although I do like the traditional hardcore elements, what truly puts Dead Hymns over the top are the melodic leads. The way that they build in atmosphere and create a somber mood without losing the rawness of the aggressive moments draws you in, and it’s been one of the main reasons that this effort has been on regular rotation in my stereo for quite some time now.

The instrumental work may explore lighter, introspective elements throughout the course of the album, but vocalist Jesse James Madre adds that extra grit to almost every moment. His primary range is a lower pitched scream that does head into some slightly higher registers, but there’s a bit more clarity to the performance and it’s easier to make out the lyrics than is typical for the genre. Tiger Flowers’ ability to maintain an aggressive sound through their vocals works to their advantage, as it not only fills out the sound but adds to the impact of the softer moments. There are a few moments where Madre’s screaming moves away from the spotlight in favor of some clean singing, which caught me by surprise the first time through. The cleaner ranges flow perfectly with the instrumentals, as they start off much softer before building up to a pitch that seems to float over the guitars. It’s an impressive performance, though there was one moment that I wasn’t that crazy about. About three quarters of the way into “The Road” a higher pitched scream/shout is added into the mix, and I didn’t feel like it seemed to completely gel with what the guitars were doing at the time.

Going back to Tiger Flowers’ EP, there are hints of the direction that the band would end up heading on Dead Hymns. But they’ve taken the fusion of gloomier melodies and aggressive hardcore punk that attacks the listener head on further than I was expecting, and the result is an album that is able to maintain your full attention from one track to the next. There are plenty of familiar elements, but this band has now reached a point where they’ve taken them and created a sound that feels genuinely different. Hardcore/metalcore (or however you want to tag it) may have way too many bands vying for your attention, but Tiger Flowers is one of the few who truly deserve it.

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