Fort Hope – ‘The Flood Flowers, Vol. 1’

By Chris Hilson

Since forming in 2013 from the ashes of My Passion, Fort Hope have quickly made their way to the top of the crowded and competitive UK alternative music scene. On the way they’ve been rewarded for their hard work with an ever growing fan base and a major label home for their debut album. What has really set Fort Hope apart from other bands is the dynamic and powerful vocals of Jon Gaskin. As expected they are on typically untouchable form throughout ‘The Flood Flowers, Vol. 1’, whether reaching for tender falsettos or dominating choruses, giving the songs an impact that would otherwise be nowhere as impressive.

That being said ‘Class Of ‘99’ doesn’t quite dominate the space in the way you would expect. It’s full of creativity and potential and it has a sense of building to a satisfying crescendo, but the abrupt ending quickly jerks you out of the enjoyable surroundings that Fort Hope had created. Just another thirty seconds or so would have been enough to bring it all together. It’s to Fort Hope’s credit that a minor blip like that is pretty much the only black mark against the album. ‘Dios Falso’ for example, may start off sounding like a casual jamming session but it soon erupts into a big and strong chorus that is representative of the rest of the album.

The record really gets going with ‘The People Of The Lake’. The soaring vocals and surging guitars will draw you in, whilst the sense of the dramatic conjured up by the lyrics adds another welcome layer to the song. Fort Hope know what works for them and similarly ‘Cardinale (Runaway Monday)’ is another demonstration of brilliant drums, captivating guitars, and the impressive vocal range of Jon Gaskin, with the riffs being instantly anthemic.

That’s not to say that ‘The Flood Flowers, Vol. 1’ ever gets stuck in a rut or sounds formulaic. The unique ‘Minor White’ kicks off with an extended intro of drum machines and keys that is accompanied by delicate vocals, and the effortless switching between this and huge sounding riffs gives the song a welcome contrast. ‘The Ward’ also brings something different to the album with an expansive feel and hints of electro throughout. Both are a brilliant showcase of what the guys in Fort Hope are capable of if they decide to take the band in a more experimental direction.

When they do dip back into more familiar territory as on ‘Look At Yourself’, the guitars still have enough of a melodic crunch to them to get stuck in your head for a long time afterwards. Such is the well-honed nature of the song writing, that it doesn’t feel like long before ‘Tears’ brings the album to an effortlessly strong conclusion. If anything you are left with not only the real sense of having been on a musical journey but of wanting to do it again and again and again.

CHRIS HILSON

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