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Chasing Dragons - "Checkmate" (CD)

Chasing Dragons - "Checkmate" CD cover image

"Checkmate" track listing:

1. Prelude
2. Throw Down Your King
3. That's Not Love
4. For the Sake of Murder
5. The Last Defence
6. Broken Jaws

Reviewed by on August 4, 2014

"You could say that the evolution of female-fronted melodic metal is Chasing Dragons."

"To earn the right to survive, we must evolve. This world belongs to us." Not only are these the opening lines to "Prelude" on the album, but also the band's mantra. The Leeds-based foursome strike a careful and clever balance in both power and bluesy metal, with a female vocal approach from tiny powerhouse Tank that is totally different from any female vocalist in metal. You could say that the evolution of female-fronted melodic metal is Chasing Dragons.

The vocals are far more bluesy than metal, which makes the metal backing all the more effective. Tank's brassy alto range makes lines like "don't you -- don't you scream a word" so perfectly forceful that you'd obey on command. Really, she sells the album, although the band accompanies tastefully, recalling the balance and dynamics of Soilwork with a punk/old school metal feel dominating the drive. "The Last Defence" even feels like it approaches Savatage territory.

The riffing of guitarist Mitch is tinged with a Randy Rhoads-esque sound, but hits with a Spiritual Beggars type of style. Throwing in a slew of tastefully placed and expert-level melodic leads full of feeling, he is formidable on the anthemic "Throw Down Your King" and the riffy "That's Not Love." The lyrical point of view on the latter is unique as well for its false-apologetic chorus about stealing another's significant other. Bassist Ant and drummer Kate boast equally ass kicking, high energy performances.

While short, the album nevertheless doesn't feel incomplete. There are more than enough riffs, memorable vocals, and powerful drum parts to satisfy and call for a repeat listen. This is tough, no-frills, melody-conscious, and formidable feel-good headbanging material. Given that it's early in the band's career, this is a near perfect starting point to launch from.

Highs: The blend of bluesy vocals and melodic metal is very distinct.

Lows: The album is short, although it doesn't feel like it is.

Bottom line: Balls-kicking, female-fronted fury.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)