By Lane Oliver
I am a pretty big post-rock fan but it needs to be said that most post-rock/post-metal/post anything bands are just derivatives of one another. I can pick out at least five bands off of the top of my head that sound exactly like Explosions in the Sky. All of these post rock acts just feed off each other and their sounds blend together like paint and all your left with is the same old formula. But sometimes there are bands that break this mold and add different textures and instrumentation techniques to create a sound all alone. Bands that have been lumped into this post-rock category that rise above the genre all together include Russian Circles, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Irepress, Red Sparowes and If These Trees Could Talk. The latter of which has a released a new album this year that is a reminder that there is hope for more forward thinking post-rock in the years to come.
If These Trees Could Talk’s new record, Red Forest, is the follow up to their magnum opus (in my opinion) Above the Earth, Below the Sky. And just like its predecessor, Red Forest is full of cinematic musical motifs and a grand triumphant sound. This record begins with the bellowing drone of “Breath of Life” accompanied by signature wailing, echoing, rising and falling guitars. This introductory track leads into the somber and beautiful ghost like strums of “The First Fire”. This track goes in between two extremes of soft, cascading scales and tremolo picking and heavy, bold chords that give off a feeling of power and courageous strength. The band employs three guitarists that layer riffs on top of each other that really give If These Trees Could Talk a unique sound and execution. Unfortunately the band doesn’t venture that greatly from their established sound. Which isn’t a bad thing considering that they perform their style very well, but I would have liked to have seen them change it up a bit. The only thing really different in their song structures is the fact that the songs are heavier this time around. The heavy, emotionally charged distorted passages where present on their other releases but this time they kicked it up a notch. “The First Fire” and “Red Forest” for example have a lot more heavy moments and take less time getting to them. So if their other record were too soft for you, Red Forest may be your new best friend.
What I didn’t like about this record besides the fact that they don’t do anything particularly different this time around, is the way some of the songs were constructed. I adored the long, drawn out passages of their earlier work. The way those songs were put together built so much tension and provided for satisfying climaxes and resolutions. This time around, the band kind of jumps the gun a bit on the heavier moments. Take “The First Fire”, it doesn’t take them but a few seconds and they are already throwing out the heavy riffs. It just seemed like they were forcing more heaviness on the listener rather than letting the songs evolve on their own.
But other than those things, Red Forest is still a hell of a lot better than most post-rock records that are out now. Regardless of my nitpickiness it is still a grand cinematic experience drenched in engrossing beauty and raw power. Don’t miss out on If These Trees Could Talk.
Label: Science of Silence
Release Date: March 20th, 2012
Favorite Tracks: “Barren Lands of the Modern Dinosaur”, “They Speak With Knives” and “When the Big Hand Buries the Twelve”.
For Fans of: Mogwai, Russian Circles, and Red Sparowes.