Tuesday, March 5, 2013
REVIEW: TREE OF SORES - A CRY OF DESPAIR
I usually have no problem picturing an album’s evolution. From pen on paper to the rehearsal space to early drafts in front of a live audience, I have great fondness for the creative process and can feel the work put into the best songs. Tree of Sores write music so organic that it feels like they cultivated a rare seed in the black marsh behind some long-forgotten cemetery and from that seed a birch grew with skin instead of bark, with pus and blood oozing from its open wounds like gruesome maple syrup. Now I’m hungry for some flapjacks.
Tree of Sores are a three-piece who started exploring all corners of the doomiest void from their home in Leeds, UK in 2009. I have never been to Leeds but I always pictured it as an industrial wasteland much like the nameless city in David Lynch’s “Eraserhead” because I’m an ignorant American. On “A Cry of Despair,” a single 28 minute track, they nurture frail melodies and build them into crushing monoliths that dwarf everything in its shadow.
From the release of their first EP it’s been evident that Tree of Sores are patient musicians trusting the listener to watch their songs grow from the roots up. On “A Cry of Despair” the sickly, wailing guitar in the opening seconds feels like a will-o’-the-wisp leading weary travelers into the darkest part of the wilderness. The sudden deluge of thundering drums and distortion is no surprise to fans of slow-burn doom, but this album truly stands on its own when Matt Faragher’s guitar soars with melancholic reverb over the cacophony, guiding you through the storm and out the other side. The guitar arrangements between heavy onslaughts are delicate and provide warmth and texture often unheard in droning doom. Tree of Sores have created a world with this album, one where you can feel the seasons pass and plants rot and grow again. They do this with moments of light shining through the thick black tangle of branches. It feels alien to write it, but there are moments that are actually even, um, pretty. But let’s not forget that this album is still crushingly heavy with a great mix that drowns the listener in bass. The song is vast enough to engage all senses and still every minute seems essential, and that is no easy feat.
I have heard people compare Tree of Sores to many trudging sludge bands and post-metal juggernauts but the closest comparison I feel comfortable with is a band like Rwake, who also use tasteful floral flourishes to bring soft touches to even their heaviest compositions. But Tree of Sores feels even more contained, totally dedicated to creating an exact mood that will consume every person who listens.
While I try to focus on what an album is, rather than what it is not, I must admit I miss Talia’s supporting vocals on this release. Still, vocals are absolutely not the focus of this album, and this is a minor “what if” rumination from a fan geeking out after multiple listens.
“A Cry of Despair” has grown on me like graveyard moss over the past few months and needs to be heard by Mogwai/Explosions in the Sky fans who may want to picture what those bands would sound like if they were weaned on leech blood in a desolate swamp. Tree of Sores write demanding music for people willing to feel a song, not just listen to it. This is definitely a band to watch, support, and encourage.
Listen to them immediately here:
And like them on Facebook you lazy bastards: