The Flowers of Hell – Come Hell or High Water, Saved by Vinyl

If a band can be judged purely by the fans it attracts, The Flowers of Hell is a damned good band. Greg Jarvis’ pan-Atlantic space-rock symphony has performed with members of Spiritualized, Broken Social Scene, Guided By Voices — they were even specifically requested as an opening act by My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields.

Don’t look to those bands as touchstones for Jarvis and company’s sound, though. Come Hell or High Water is a sprawling effort, sure, but it’s far more controlled than any of Broken Social Scene’s releases. It’s grandiose, but the gospel elements (and self-loathing) of Spiritualized are almost entirely absent. And while the band will burst into overdrive on occasion, it relies less on MBV-style effects and more on the band’s sheer scale.

Jarvis borrows from Godspeed! You Black Emperor’s slow-build esthetic, but there are more than enough twists to keep The Flowers from sounding derivative. “Blümchen” takes a full four-and-a-half minutes of spacious horns, dreamy theremin and German narration before its electronic pulse and fuzzed-out guitars emerge. “Forest of Noise” and “The Invocation” both feel more like amalgams of movements than actual songs, the former a nightmare landscape of scraped strings, the latter a clanking clatter of industrial noise that resolves itself into a peaceful glade, complete with birdsong. There’s nary a pop hook to be found, but it’s still clear how Jarvis has found himself in such good company.

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