Tree of Sores - _Tree of Sores_
(Witch Hunter Records, 2011)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (8 out of 10)
It is surprising when a good album comes unexpected. The _Tree of Sores_ EP was in the promo box half obscured by the scraps of paper, old newspapers and half eaten donuts. The band's genre labeled as "atmospheric doom" and came with a description of sounding like Neurosis through a lens of crust. Using more established bands to gain a base and following has been used shamefully for thousands of years. Everyone does it, and I will not slight a band for trying easy hooks. It is odd, however, when the proposed marketing hook describes a band to the tee. The Neurosis comparison is only the beginning for this English sludge group. The eponymous debut from Tree of Sores is well executed, dreary and soars beyond the realm of shameful comparisons.

To begin, the Neurosis comparison is apt. However, if I may, I would like to add a couple of groups -- namely Eyehategod, Isis, Pelican and Acid King. The comparison is important, as Talia Minger's voice conjures the spirits of Acid King's burned out vixen, Lori S. To complement Minger's vocals is Matt Faragher, who sounds like Eyehategod's Mark Williams if banished to live in the wilderness for one year. Faragher possesses the voice of a songbird being fed through a woodchipper. The previous allegory may sound hideous (in the future, I'll use less cute animals) but both vocals add to the dark undercarriage which holds this EP together. _Tree of Sores_ is an exploration of undergrowth and the subterranean. It is a swan dive into a cave where the insects are carnivorous and the shadows threaten malicious harm.

_Tree of Sores_ begins with its strongest songs. "God Theory" and the equally telling "Grave" claw and writhe their way into the listener's memory. Despite my interest and enjoyment of this EP, Tree of Sores can be polarizing, as various friends walked into the room and turned on their heels to exit once hearing the music. I guess if you are not used to smoked cries and necro-whines, it could be slightly taxing. The vocals and instrumentation becomes strained and encumbering during "From Within", but quickly finishes off adequately.

Sometimes the crust angle is used as an excuse for poor production and equally poor musicianship. However, _Tree of Sore_'s mix and production are surprisingly clean. The guitars buzz and drums pound like a terrible migraine. The world created by Tree of Sores involves heavy detail in the crashing passages created by band. If Tree of Sores created one 40 minute song, I would be perfectly content.

The EP is less pessimistic than their sludge brothers, but equally more spiteful than their doom sisters. Being their first EP, the band speaks greatly to potential for a full album. Neurosis gave us _Through Silver in Blood_, and I expect nothing less from Tree of Sores in the future. Additionally, the promo and all related websites make mention of the artwork and specifically the artist/designer known as Black Uroborus. Having done many album covers in the past, it is always pleasing to see the album artist receive recognition -- especially when the imposing black tendrils seen on the cover complement the music perfectly. Tree of Sores caught me by surprise. I just wish the band name didn't lead me to videos and images depicting fever blisters, canker sores and mouth herpes. Gross.


(article published 13/2/2011)

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