Wednesday, June 13, 2012

ALBUM REVIEW/STREAM: If These Trees Could Talk - Red Forest

by Robby Beck

Y'know, post-rock seems to be making a little bit of a comeback for me this year. I thought the genre to be dead for a while, with Mogwai's recent albums more-or-less abandoning the genre, and Explosions in the Sky releasing an album last year that I liked, but admittedly it was more of the same from them. I just figured that there would never be any new bands to carry on the genre to new heights and it would just fade into underground music history. But with impressive new material from Frames, Sigur Rós, and Downfall of Gaia, as well as new albums on the way from Japan's Mono and New Zealand's Jakob, this fledgling genre just might peak my interest once again.

Akron, Ohio's If These Trees Could Talk is definitely amongst the newer wave of post-rock bands that have been impressing me, their new album Red Forest to be specific. They come at the genre with a heavier angle, to the point where some might call them "post-metal". That's definitely an understandable label, as tracks like "Barren Lands of the Modern Dinosaur," "Red Forest" and the closer contain some pretty heavy riffage. However, I would never say that ITTCT carries the misanthropic and confrontational tone of bands like Isis or even Pelican at their darker points, because as heavy as this band can be there's always a triumphant feeling that comes into the balance. Take for example "Barren Lands of the Modern Dinosaur", a track I just mentioned; there are some pretty rocking riffs in that track, but also heavy effects on the guitars as they reach for higher registers as the track progresses, and the song ultimately leads up to a, dare I say it, "epic" climax.

As middle school-level as the word may be in this day and age, I think "epic" is certainly an apt description for what's going on with this album. But what's surprising is how this band can make songs with (relatively) short song lengths that can be just as much of a journey as the longer ones. You get a couple 8-10 minute epics, which make great use of their lengths, but you get some bite-sized songs such as "Aleutian Clouds". Judging by it's 3 minute length alone you'd assume it to be some kind of ambient interlude (akin to the two previously on the record), but the song contains the same highs and lows the longer songs have with, I think, similar effect.

But that immediacy brings one of my only real gripes on the album. As great as most of these songs are, I kinda miss the longer, more drawn out passages on this band's previous album Above the Earth, Below the Sky. I like that the band still maintains dynamics this time around, and ensures that it's still an essential aspect to their music; I just feel that if the quieter moments were longer and more developed, the loud climaxes would mean a good deal more.

In hindsight, I can't let that one complaint put down this record too much. It definitely gets a high recommendation from yours truly, and gives me hope for more forward thinking post-rock to come in the future.

Score: decent 8

Stream the whole thing below from the band's Bandcamp below.

FAV TRAX: Barren Lands of the Modern Dinosaur, Red Forest, Left to Rust and Rot, When the Big Hand Buries the Twelve
LEAST FAV TRACK: They Speak With Knives

(Check out Robby's YouTube page for more sweet album reviews.)

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