Sunday, May 18, 2014

Treeweaver - Spirit Worlds

After a brief intro consisting mostly of circusy laughter that may well have been sampled from an episode of the Goosebumps tv show, Treeweaver briefly unveils a wild jangling of riffing with fast paced, energetic, and off kilter notes. This demo could be described as psychedelic black metal. There is an odd and almost keyless melodic approach involving big jumps and exceptionally wide vibrato notes. Reinforcing this mood is how the percussion is clearly programmed, but comes across more like a drum machine. Fortunately, it gives the release a slight industrial edge more often than a cheap one. However, while “Spirit Worlds” has some interesting ideas, they are too sparse, disconnected, and also frontloaded (especially with how the first track is so much stronger than the others.) This scattered fourteenish minute long demo can easily be seen as an ill omen for the project’s future.

An infatuation with homogenized rhythm is a major problem here, and it cuts away the strength of the more intricate melodies. For example, there can only be so many constant eighth note snare or other percussion hits holding hands with changing guitar notes in a song before things get irritating, see “Silencing Void Dweller.” Treeweaver essentially takes a black metal approach in this sense, but isn’t quite black metal enough to build that familiar and imposing soundwall. The result is that the disjointed melodies don’t translate in the same satisfying way that you’d hear from a more heavily industrial black metal approach or a more tremolo oriented band pulling off the same kangaroo melodic jumps. Nightbringer is a better example of the latter. Treeweaver could also benefit from a more rhythmic approach as the melodies lend themselves to a more ample use of rests and varying note lengths.

A minor, but revealing issue is how the third track’s intro is not at all incorporated with rest of the song, and sits as a textural experiment included almost as an afterthought, like an awkward acquaintance that should have been cropped out of a photograph. In the more interesting pieces, the songs maintain energy while touching wild heights yet retaining a heavy low contrast. For example, in “Death Stares Back” this comes through by having eccentric riffs that sometime connect well together, and their high energy helps level out the natural aversion to the overly random chromatic flavor.

On the production end, each instrument eschews bass tones; the crows-stuck-in-a-sewer-drain vocals, guitars, and even the snare heavy kit. Treeweaver ought to throw some more toms into the beats and pour some Budweiser on the sickly bass because this demo desperately needs a thicker low end. Even the lower growling vocals feel thin in this way, which also adds to the industrial black metal feel but subtracts from the music.

Even though the melodies could be technically called dissonant, it is better to think of them as tangential, since that carries less musical connotations. The closest comparison may be something like Trey Azagthoth trying to emulate Furze or Brown Jenkins, especially given healthy population of feral guitar solos that help break up the more intractable riffs. These solos fit really well despite the fact that the riffs have little in common with Morbid Angel other than being metal.

Overall, “Spirit Worlds” is interesting, but this neutral demo’s flaws leave me skeptical. Sure, there is obvious creativity here but it is poorly executed to the point where there is little satisfying momentum to speak of.

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