Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire - _Songs of Ill Hope and Desperation_
(Prosthetic, 2010)
by: Jeremy Ulrey (7.5 out of 10)
I must say I like a band who realize that brevity never got us anywhere. Denver's Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire title their albums like they're getting paid by the word, as both this year's _Songs of Ill Hope and Desperation_ and 2008's debut, _Omega Drunk on the Blood of Alpha_ demonstrate.

Strangely, the music itself tends to drift in the opposite direction, succinct nuggets of what the band self-describe as "funeral grind", i.e. too slow for grind, too fast for doom. That's not entirely accurate: the doom and grind elements aren't so much integrated into a mid-paced hybrid as they are slammed into each other like a car crash. Now, it's not unusual for bands to throw doom breakdowns into death / grind songs in order to give the audience a breather, but what separates CTFF from the herd is that they give more or less equal time to both elements.

At times this imbues the album with a disorienting quality, as if the band is torn between two identities of dubious compatibility, but if you don't second guess it too much the concept actually holds up pretty well. There are in fact a handful of tracks that are sans doom altogether (hint: the song lengths pretty much give it away), so if you're putting together a traditional grind mixtape don't feel like you have to pass these guys over altogether. And regardless of what velocity they're playing at, brutality trumps ambiance every single time.


(article published 31/10/2010)

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