Deadwood Tree are a Spanish sludge band that incorporates some post-metal elements (in the vein of Pelican or Isis) and boy oh boy did I enjoy this album. Mourn is a bleak listen yet I find the music resonates throughout my whole being and is not thin or cold as the qualifier bleak might signify. The music is groovy, dark, thick and progressive all of which are fantastic qualities to find in a doom album. Some of the more unhinged elements of the music remind me of one of my favourite acts at the moment, Ruins of Beverast, although I make that comparison lightly as the music is much more in-your-face and less washed out.
For the most part the music is riff-laden and the vocals delivered in a guttural death metal-style scream. Although the vocal style is slightly monotonous the performance of the vocals are incredible and sound as if they are emanating from some rip in time and space. That being said, the album itself does feature some diverse sections, such as the extended acoustic introduction that we hear at the beginning of track two, ‘From Below’. The juxtaposition of screamed vocals over such an elegant and enticing guitar part is unnerving yet envelops me in a wave of black, cold water. I can feel the ice in my bones yet I do pull away, and let the sound swallow me up as the sustained riffs hit me like violent undulations.
The music although laden with morose textures gives me a sense of ascension. It builds slowly much like a brewing storm, softly wetting the ground before the deluge. The repeated riffs put the listener into a trance-like state as the rhythms plod away both reminding me of the inevitable ticking of time yet drowning me in a psychedelic horrorscape, making me forget that anything mattered at all.
One of my favourite parts of the album are the clean and acoustic elements that are introduced from time to time. This textural shift gives the heavy sections an even weighter impact and helps to remind us that music can be heavy yet still delicate and beautiful at the same time.
Track four off the album, ‘Glimpse’ is an interesting track as it is the shortest on the album but also starts a fair bit faster than anything else on the record. This track digs hard into the post-metal element of this band’s sound but also adds some shoegaze/blackgaze to the mix (at least to my ears). Before long the track moves into some of the iconic and desolate clean sections I hear scattered throughout. The section that proceeds from around 2:30 into this piece is abominable and frightening. The ¾ drum groove adds to the eerie quality of this middle-section but also adds a jocular nature that is in stark contrast to the morbidity. I don’t know why but ¾ drum feels always add an element of humour to any style of music, carnivalesque perhaps?
The longest track on the record, ‘Engraved’ might be my pick of the album. From the slow drum intro paired with dreary and effect-drenched guitars to the unison picked guitars heard later, this song has it all. The piece is like a monster that grows more terrifying with each step it takes, dragging it’s cyclopean mass across the ocean bed. The creature dips below the waves for an instant before bursting out of the waves to devour you whole. Much of the picked clean guitar in this track has a blackened tinge to it that is full of grief and fervor, the beauty of nothingness. I also particularly enjoy the tasteful lead guitar heard on this track. This album overall does not feature much lead guitar and I think the choice is great as it pulls the focus more toward the mood than individual showmanship. However, when leads do show up such as in this piece they are tasteful and perfectly placed. I am particularly partial to the lead parts we hear at the end of the piece, towards eight minutes, a respite that builds with purpose into a powerful, emotive ending.
I have not found too much music in the doom genre of late that has really caught my attention. However, this album has captured that attention and is holding it for ransom until another album delivers something as monstrous as this release. Get fuzzed and slam this on repeat and pray you are eaten first.
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