Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire: Visceral

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Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire: Visceral
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Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire: Visceral
Death Metal, Grindcore, Metalcore
Prosthetic Records
July 19th, 2011
Release length: 16:32
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After spending time with the second Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire full-length, I quickly came to a few realizations. First of all, that I really disliked this group’s music and wanted to not hear anything more by them until a good amount of time had passed to see if they honed their style in a little better or not. The other was that this band was going to blow up and I’d have no choice but constantly hear their name and music. When dealing with the underground, it’s no surprise the latter of those two options rang true. Songs of Ill Hope and Desperation was on the lips of many loyal fanatics to the group, and roughly one year later they issued a 10″ follow-up EP titled Visceral through Prosthetic Records. Surprisingly a review copy never made it’s way here. That is, until now.

Originally, I went into Visceral just intending to get the review out of the way, but this EP was a bit surprising. The audio quality is about what you expect, though it’s not until “Garbage” that the material picked up well enough to show it off. This release starts pretty slow with “\\\,” escalating with each track. The tone of the album definitely caters to a Sludge Metal sound, having a dirty, rawer trait to all of it. The guitars have a rich distortion to them with a nice accompaniment from the deep bass, the latter of the two really sticking out in the slower passages. However, faster songs like “Special Education” find the guitars and drums dominating the mix instead. The cymbals to the kit are the loudest of all, and have a pretty crisp sharpness to them against some moderately tight, mid-level snares. There also are bass kicks here, but if you didn’t know what to look for, you wouldn’t know it. They sound like a louder tapping than anything, and during the faster moments, they can really become drowned out. This leads to the most infuriating aspect of the EP, as it genuinely sounds like something drastically missing, as if a huge gap is present in the audio.

As stated, “\\\” starts off the album with a fantastic Sludge Metal approach, making for a proper introduction thanks to the guitar feedback and distortions utilized that grow and enrich against a simple drum beat. The transition into “Lower than Life, High as the Sky” is seamless thanks to the richer guitarwork ceasing momentarily, having a focus on the drums for a short time. The song moves at this sluggish tempo for a little while, using plenty of higher pitched chords during emptier passages similar to “\\\,” but also not afraid to build up with stronger chords as it enters into a much faster, heavier Grindcore/blast beat fueled section about a minute in. Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire do show restraint here, not really catering specifically to blasting away on the drums and matching the speed on guitar, allowing catchier, yet still heavy material at a mid-tempo to cut through and hammer away at the listener in a more traditional Grindcore fashion than anything else.

That about sums up this release until “Biracial.” Visceral finds each track transitioned into each other well enough that, much of the time, you’ll think it’s all one long song. It also doesn’t hurt that each song varies between slow Sludge inspired passages to faster Grindcore-laced blast beats. It does come off a bit patterned, but often it isn’t really bad, and works with the slow building pace established on “\\\.” This all seems to come to a head around “Special Education” though. This song clearly boasts more of a Grindcore foundation, clocking in at just under a minute thirty with a blistering pace that hammers away with blast beats and uncompromising bass-heavy mid-pace passages that will have you banging your head along. The audio sample at the end suits the song, but feels rather pointless. A recording of a man shouting obscenities repeatedly in a manner that doesn’t quite fit what Tourettes disease really seems to be rings the track out, but greatly interrupts the creative flow. This song ends as its own entity, as does “Biracial” which is about the same thing, just a little longer and without an audio sample. However, “Asthmatic” does end up being an alright song, though the over five-and-a-half minute mark is what kills it. The slower pace doesn’t host much of a Sludge tone to it like “\\\” and “Lower than Life, High as the Sky,” and the riffs clearly try to bring in a bit of a Doom Metal meets Death Metal feel through much of the track. At the same time the band also forces modern Deathcore elements, as shown with the breakdown and borderline pig squeel guttural vocals. When the pace picks up, it is a little more enjoyable, but overall there are too many passages that end up drawn out and bland to save the song.

Visceral did end up being more of a pleasant surprise than a let down though. The first five tracks wound up being rather interesting, despite “Special Education” ruining the creative flow of the release. Once that was lost, and “Biracial” established the rest as songs with their own identities, Visceral lost sight of what made it special, making this all a greatly missed opportunity. Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire really try to do a lot in a short amount of time, and in many ways they succeed, making a pretty aggressive EP that works a number of styles well. While the faults do still exist, the restricted length of the effort is really what the band needed to show off what they are capable of, and hopefully some of the better, more creative aspects of this release will show up on future efforts from the band.

0. \\\ – 1:11
0. Lower than Life, High as the Sky – 3:54
0. Garbage – 2:25
0. Special Education – 1:29
0. Biracial – 1:55
0. Asthmatic – 5:38
Overall Score: 6.5/10
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.