Sunday, March 18, 2012

Album Review: If These Trees Could Talk - Red Forest

Album Rating: A
If These Trees Could Talk, like a few bands that are brave enough to transcend the genre gap, throws a curious listener into a realm where post-rock and post-metal are entrancingly intertwined. The modest band from Akron, Ohio delves into the heavier side of things on their sophomore release, Red Forest, and it shows through excessive distortion and low power chords to assist the gradual buildup in their songs, more akin to something like Russian Circles than it would be to Explosions in the Sky. While mentioning similar and contrasting qualities of bands, however, If These Trees Could Talk has a comparable structure to God Is An Astronaut, using guitars to fill their full, atmospheric sound rather than synthesizers, but retaining a healthy balance of cavernous echo. This is a prominent aspect of Red Forest, each resonating instrument sounding as though it may come from miles away in the wilderness, drifting by forgotten trees and ancient hills. It's a wondrous release, and is not only thought provoking, but probes deep into the primal core of human emotion.

In relation to their debut, Above the Earth, Below the Sky, there's a lot more inclination and respect to post-metal, as heard in tracks like "Red Forest", or "Left To Rot and Rust", with low and loud bass and rhythm guitar lines, and the melody in lead and harmony screamed out in a violent shriek of a tone. The drum lines feature lots of action on tom, so as not to accentuate a bright splash with cymbals, and instead make deep, percussive resonance more forwardly important, cymbals only coming in when loud breakdowns or choruses are in progression.

The beauty of the orchestration is a mixture of violent forte, quiet buildup, and slow, somber quietude. A song like "They Speak With Knives" has a fantastic mixture of the three, with guitars moaning in the background in order to create an eerie, beautiful air in the piece. Meanwhile, the opener, "Breath Of Life", uses only a low rumbling guitar and deep reverberations in a lead tone that lie in a blatant, ominous semblance that leads beautifully into the dark, haunted milieu beautifully established by "The First Fire". There's something remarkable about the beautiful song transitions that pushes a great record up to a point of excellence, and one of those things is an uninterrupted, flowing listen.

I really wasn't sure what to expect from If These Trees Could Talk. The first record did so much for a debut that I sat staring it down, not knowing what to think. Upon listening, I concede that their sound was changed, one can't deny that. However, I think the healthy divergence is for the better - they left the action-oriented post-rock behind for more turbulent waters, and I feel that the post-metal scene fits them slightly better. And while there are plenty of elements of post-rock that remain, for old If These Trees fans and instrumental rock loyalists in general, there's also a broadening that does justice to a wholly expanded fan set as well, enrapturing those that would be listening to something like Beware of Safety or Jesu as well as Moonlit Sailor or Tortoise. The record is a feat, and brings new light to the sound without detracting from the quality, and it's a fantastic sophomore release.

The record hits stores March 20.

Look for updates and band info on their Facebook, and music on their and MySpace.

Track Listing:
1) Breath of Life
2) The First Fire
3) Barren Lands of the Modern Dinosaur
4) They Speak With Knives
5) The Gift of Two Rivers
6) Red Forest
7) The Aleutian Clouds
8) Left To Rust and Rot
9) When The Big Hand Buries The Twelve

1 comment:

  1. Ok, now I can't wait anymore! I have to hear it!! :) we have been waiting for a new album by if these trees could talk since we first heard their first album. But because we live in south-africa it is hard to get the albums because our cd stores don't stock music like this. :(