Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire: Songs of Ill Hope and Desperation

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Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire: Songs of Ill Hope and Desperation
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Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire: Songs of Ill Hope and Desperation
Death Metal, Grindcore, Metalcore
Prosthetic Records
June 8th, 2010
Release length: 33:18
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Songs of Ill Hope and Desperation marks the second full-length release by Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire, and is a release that just screams migraine. While the band does well to emulate the sound such acts as Napalm Death had started with the mixture of Grindcore and Death Metal, this band weaves in some Metalcore elements into the music, or so it is said. Much of the supposed Metalcore sound on this release comes off more like a Hardcore sound by bands such as The Chariot or even Psyopus, but in such a negative way. Even though the album starts out well enough, the rest of the album feels like an experimentation being done by a cruel scientist to find a human’s breaking point.

There’s so much going on during Songs of Ill Hope and Desperation for it’s own good. First of all, the album starts off well with “Teeth & Hair”, which makes the listener thing that it will be a rather heavy album with some serious Death and Grindcore action going on, but suffering from a more Metalcore vocal approach with screaming vocals. While the screaming on this track does manage to work out in it’s face, as you continue through there will be times where you will just want to take the disc out and snap it in half due to how badly it clashes against the music, which, when you actually look at it, seems to be practically indescribable due to the sheer amount of styles incorporated that are simply there and aren’t necessarily a prominant aspect to the band’s music, causing the album to just sound like a cluttered mess.

Musically, the album is very diverse, which is a very bad thing in this case. You do have the more prominant Death Metal and Grindcore sound mixed with Metalcore, but it’s clear there is an artsy experimental aspect with Hardcore incorporated into this album, as well as Sludge and god only knows what else. “Cloven”, “Gold Frankincense & Myth”, as well as “Recession” both show signs of the Doom aspect, as well as some Sludge with how the guitars are performed at times. “Gold Frankincense & Myth” actually seems more like a Progressive song then anything due to the constant changes of the music. And while “Teeth & Hair” was a shorter song, it may lead you to expect that the shorter tracks on here will be where the most attention is paid to crafting good music instead of noise, and to some extents you’d be right, but sadly not all the songs on here are that enjoyable. “Shat Out My Bones” is a song that really shows off the Hardcore and Metalcore influence with Grindcore influenced blast beats that just hammer away. Sadly this song has no real bite and seems more like an endurance test with the musicians of the band to see if they can keep up with one another.

Of all the longer songs available on this release that happen to fall into the more Doom aspect of the album’s music, “Recession” is perhaps the most enjoyable on here. This song really does showcase some of the band’s talent and has some good song structuring, which some of the tracks on here seem to lack, as well as incorporate blast beats well enough that the band doesn’t need to rely on them solely to progress the music. This song is also the first to feature some gutteral vocals and really push the Death Metal aspect of the music further along, and against the Doom Metal opening chords, it sounds great. The music abruptly does kick into the more traditional blast beat fused sound with shouting to close out the song. While the abrupt shift is a bit of a joke, the song does end on a more positive note. “Bouquet of Self Pity” is another entertaining longer track, but at the same time it rips off “Recession” horribly in the fact that it has practically the same simplistic structure of having gutteral vocals during a Doom inspired introduction, but at least this track doesn’t cut right into the Grindcore. The only difference is that it ends with the same Doom atmosphere it started with.

As you progress through Songs of Ill Hope and Desperation you will also start to notice some repetition going on. While some of the shorter songs obviously aren’t going to be most structured with any sort of change up in the music outside of being a slow pace or fast pace filled with blast beats, the longer songs seem to have the same consistant structure to them with very few changes that seem to progress the further along you get. Another thing you’ll notice as you continue through is that some of the songs at the end of this album are actually far better then the start. While “Teeth & Hair”, as well as “I Walked Away from the Human Race” make for some good Grindcore based metal, everything else about the start of the album is rather bland and has no real kick to it other then to your skull enough times to give you a migraine. However, once “Recession” kicks in, things start to shape up. Even though “Piss” is not that great, the album does manage to spark some life into finely crafted slower and faster paced songs that make you wish the band had done that kind of material from the start, almost as if the band started to take the writing of this album seriously. In fact, the closing four songs starting from “Made of Coal” to “Remove the Light” up until the drawn out section of a baby crying and a woman whispering that is just annoying beyond belief, actually wind up being a great ending to this album and some of the best material the band put on this release. “Empty” even bleeds into “Remove the Light”, which is something a little different the rest of the album didn’t have, and further pushes the concept that the band put thought into the closing of the album compared to it’s start.

With only a hand full of tracks on Songs of Ill Hope and Desperaion that actually make the album worth not breaking into two pieces, it’s hard to justify even buying the release. Perhaps it the band puts enough effort into the next album as a whole like they did on the last four songs of this release, or even from tracks like Teeth & Hair” or “Recession”, then there may be a solid hit that is worth checking out. Until then, you are sadly not missing much from Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire, outside of a thirty three minute endurance test that will feel like an eternity has passed when you reach the end.

01. Teeth & Hair – 1:40
02. Cloven – 3:10
03. I Walked Away from the Human Race – 1:27
04. Shat Out My Bones – 0:57
05. Gold Frankincense and Myth – 4:39
06. Recession – 2:41
07. Piss – 1:09
08. Bouquet of Self Pity – 3:09
09. Leather Hands – 2:16
10. Made of Coal – 3:00
11. They Smeared Shit on Their Skin So They Could Blend In At Night – 2:02
12. Empty – 0:48
13. Remove the Light – 6:20
Overall Score: 2.5/10
Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire (Band)
Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire (Logo)
Digital review copy of this release provided by Prosthetic Records.