The Flowers of Hell - Come Hell or High Water

Ambitious collaboration project attempts to bridge gap between classical and rock - and succeeds

Album Review by Joe Barton | 25 Mar 2009
  • The Flowers of Hell, Come Hell or High Water (Benbecula Records)
Album title: Come Hell or High Water
Artist: The Flowers of Hell
Label: Benbecula Records
Release date: 6 April

The Flowers of Hell describe themselves as a “rock orchestra”. Fear not, however, this is not some prog-rock indulgence of Spinal Tap proportions. An ambitious collaboration between musicians from the Patti Smith Group, British Sea Power, and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, to name but a few, the project spans two continents, 30 musicians and the opposing poles of classical and rock instrumentation. The results are breathtaking: the first few tracks introduce orchestral textures similar to György Ligeti’s Atmosphères, and Forest of Noise unsurprisingly evokes raucous moments from Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. In fact, the two musical worlds only mingle as the album progresses; there’s no sign of a guitar until halfway through. After bombarding the listener with feedback and drumrolls, Come Hell or High Water ends with a gorgeous piano piece, proving that these often incongruent worlds can meet and make something beautiful.