One thing that Tree Of Sores do well is ‘ominous’. From the spectral loom of intro track…uhhh…’Intro’, right the way through to the closing number on this self-titled EP, ‘Silent Scream’ (no, not the Slayer one), Tree Of Sores sustain an atmosphere of creeping dread and horror as well as any other band I could care to think of within the ‘sludge’ scene, if not BETTER than most.
The band themselves sum up their sound as having a ‘vibe that is heavy, dark and ambient’, and I for one would say that description is bang-on the money, but Tree Of Sores are dark in more than just a ‘metal’ way; they slither through similar shadows as such post-punk luminaries as early Killing Joke, Siouxsie And The Banshees, The Phantom Limbs and Dead And Gone, with their echoing, eerily reverbed guitar sound that drips off of throbbing basslines and pounding semi-tribal drumming.
Vocally, both guitarist Matt and bassist Talia take the reigns – sometimes together and sometimes individually – and are firmly within the crust camp of throaty shouting/snarling which works very well indeed atop the sinister murk of the music. As I stated earlier, Matt’s guitar is just dripping with echo, which goes a long way toward thickening up the sound of this power trio, along with Talia’s thickly thrumming, punchy bass sound, the solid, economical yet powerful drumming of the ever self-deprecating Ben Hague and the fantastically atmospheric production job by Matt at Manchester’s Brunswick Mill. The whole thing sounds fantastic and light-years ahead of how most bands would sound at such an early stage of their career. If you didn’t know this was a debut recording, you could certainly believe that Tree Of Sores were a seasoned, well-established unit.
Matt’s guitar maelstrom is in full effect once ‘Intro’ kicks in, following a Geordie Walker-flavoured intro, and continues throughout the entire recording, being particularly vicious on the brooding and propulsive ‘Sandford’ – also featuring some sterling tribal thumping from Hague and, of course, that dark cavernous bass throb of Talia’s.
Despite being essentially hewn from the same basic material – echo-laden guitar, churning bass and drums and dual vocals – each track herein manages to maintain it’s own character and feel. ‘God Theory’ is a slow, lethargic crawl that becomes a Neurosis-esque epic whirlwind of guitar and howling vocals, ‘Grave’ is subtler, sparser and heavy on the bass/treble contrast, ‘From Within’ builds into a rabid frenzy, and ‘Sandford’ is just a balls-out thumping monster. Closing number, ‘Silent Scream’ is nuanced, heavily atmospheric, towering and epic in equal parts. As a parting shot, it really does the trick of sending the recording out on a high.
Tree Of Sores have given us a thoroughly riveting example of kaleidoscopic murk, crafted by people who seem driven to plough their own furrow. Yes there are aspects of all of the afore-mentioned bands in their musical stew, but ultimately they sound exactly like THEMSELVES, and I applaud them loudly for it. If a band can sound THIS cohesive and individual on their debut release, who knows what they will they do next? Personally, I can’t wait to find out.
Scribed by: Paul Robertson