Originally due in December 2023, the sophomore album from Florence Black is finally here, and as frustrating as the extra wait must have been for the legions of fans that the trio from Merthyr Tydfil now command, spare a thought for the band because it must have been hell for them sitting on these songs for another 2 months knowing just how strong the album is.
The prospect of a 12-track, 40-minute album can be quite daunting at times. Very often an album will run out of steam after 30 minutes or so, or even suffer from a mid-album slump. Not so with ‘Bed Of Nails’. And the crucial reason for this is not only the quality of the songs but the variety found within.
Tours with acts as diverse as Kris Barras, Ugly Kid Joe, Steel Panther, and mammoth shows with Böhse Onkelz – excluding Rammstein, Germany’s biggest rock/metal act – as well as numerous festival appearances have given the trio of Tristan Thomas (lead vocals/guitar), Jordan Evans (bass/backing vocals) and Perry Davies (drums/backing vocals) heaps of experience and in the case of the stadium/arena dates with Germany’s Evil Uncles, the opportunity to hone their craft in front of an unfamiliar audience. You cannot write these songs without life experience, and the last few years have given Florence Black plenty of that.
The album doesn’t hang around and opens in a blistering style with the hook-filled ‘Start Again’ where if some of the opening guitar work was slower then you might suggest a touch of Jerry Cantrell to Tristan Thomas’s playing. Coming in at 02:43 minutes, it is refreshingly lean and does what all good album openers are meant to do, but without stretching out the song purely for the sake of it. ‘Don’t Hold Me Down’ quickly follows on with a fantastic Gary Moore-like touch to Thomas’s playing throughout – classic ‘Black Rose’ Moore. But that’s just the opening part of the song; once it passes midway it takes a darker, harder edge with Thomas leaning towards harsher vocals and sharper riffage with the backbone of the band (Evans and Davies) locked into an almighty groove. If this one is on the setlist for the imminent tour, then expect shit to go down once that left turn kicks in. It’s always a thrill when you think that you have the essence of a song all figured out, only for the band to throw in a curveball at the last minute.
The title track itself is special, and showcases so many different aspects of Florence Black in 2024: there is an electronic sample (maybe a sample, or some studio trickery) running in the background at certain points, which is slightly unnerving at times especially if you have cans on because you might just find yourself questioning if you heard it or not, and when the breakdown comes in with the harsh vocals and bludgeoning Rammstein-sized riffs then Florence Black are bordering on Avatar territory (the band, not the blue fuckers). It’s quite a bold track that showcases the confidence within the band.
It’s not all darkness on ‘Bed Of Nails’, there are moments of uplifting lightness such as the ultra-catchy ‘Look Up’ which is bloody massive (such a cracking performance from Perry Davies, helped by a killer production from the always-impressive Romesh Dodangoda) and it’s easy to picture Tristan making contact with everyone on the front few rows while he asks with a hint of menace: “You want it?”. ‘The Forest’ begins in a similar whimsical vein to the early Queen classic ”39′ and it’s the solid basslines from Jordan Evans gaining the plaudits on this one. After a few moments of fooling the listener into thinking that it’s going to end in the same way that it begins, the band ramps it up and Tristan lets fly with a gorgeous solo. Magic stuff.
On the heavier side; ‘Warning Sign’ continues with the gargantuan hooks and over in the corner Dave Grohl is sitting there stroking his beard looking on like a proud father because this one has Foo’s stadium-sized hooks. And to offset this one and the QOTSA-like ‘Beautiful Lover’ (a dark horse in the “standout tracks” stakes), Florence Black floors it on the infectious ‘The Way Home’.
Insert “Good things come to those who wait” idiom right about…now. But cliche aside, it is true. Florence Black have delivered on all fronts.
‘Bed Of Nails’ is available February 2nd, more information here.
Review – Dave
Live images – Rob Wilkins
Feb 01: Glasgow Classic Grand
Feb 02: Newcastle University
Feb 03: Manchester Academy 3
Feb 05: Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Feb 06: Wolverhampton KK’s Steel Mill
Feb 08: Bournemouth The Old Fire Station
Feb 09: London The Dome
Feb 10: Cardiff Tramshed