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Clinging To The Trees Of A Forest Fire - "Songs Of Ill Hope And Desperation" (CD)

Clinging To The Trees Of A Forest Fire - "Songs Of Ill Hope And Desperation" CD cover image

"Songs Of Ill Hope And Desperation" track listing:

1. Teeth & Hair (1:40)
2. Cloven (3:10)
3. I Walked Away From The Human Race (1:27)
4. Shat Out My Bones (:57)
5. Gold Frankincense And Myrrh (4:39)
6. Recession (2:41)
7. Piss (1:09)
8. Bouquet Of Self Pity (3:09)
9. Leather Hands (2:16)
10. Made Of Coal (3:00)
11. They Smeared Shit On Their Skin So They Could Blend In At Night (2:02)
12. Empty (:48)
13. Remove The Light (6:20)

Reviewed by on July 10, 2010

"This album will curb-stomp happiness and drag joy by its bloody entrails, leaving behind a hollow entity where positive feelings are replaced by crawling maggots."

What kinds of thoughts pop up when a band names their album “Songs of Ill Hope and Desperation”? Obviously, unless the band is being tongue-in-cheek, a whole mess of grim atmospheres and dirty sound textures seem to wait ahead. Clinging To The Trees Of A Forest Fire doesn’t have an ounce of irony in their bones, so the album title is appropriate for the angry grindcore they play. This album will curb-stomp happiness and drag joy by its bloody entrails, leaving behind a hollow entity where positive feelings are replaced by crawling maggots.

That description may cause some to cringe in disgust or horror, but that is the best way to describe in words just how insane “Songs of Ill Hope and Desperation” is. For 30-plus minutes, a suffocating presence never lets up, choking the breath out until only faint panting remains. When things get really chaotic, as they do on “Teeth & Hair” and “Leather Hands,” the intensity burns like a roman candle on the 4th of July. The short tracks are as torturous as the longer songs, seeming to take ages to get through the one-minute mark.

Judging by what has been said, it can be inferred that the album is just one noisy affair after another, but the Colorado foursome has a few aces in their pocket. The band enjoys playing at speeds that would scare off Jeff Gordon and are also fond of changing the tempo up in an unexpected manner. “Gold Frankincense and Myth” is held together with doom-inspired distorted chords and static feedback, a form of self-control that comes across as effective. The band does a stellar job with keeping things to the point where just as the pace begins to quicken, they rein the sound back.

For the most part, this approach is flawless. The issues become apparent with the plodding closer “Remove The Light.” The extended interlude tacked onto the middle goes on forever, with soft whispering, babies crying, and the occasional clean guitar riff to feign interest. The front and back end of the song are the heaviest moments on the album to avoid the track from being entirely pointless. It’s the only track that is a miss on an album full of solid-to-superb material.

The production, done by Dave Otero (Cephalic Carnage, Cobalt) is grimy and harsh; in other words, perfect for this type of album. Nobody would want pristine and glossy production with the type of hostility and bitterness on display. The instruments are balanced in the mix, thought the bass is a victim of being buried. The vocals just stand out enough to be recognized, but the screams and growls can be tough to decipher. The deep bellows croaking out lines like “Another nail in the fucking coffin” on “Recession” sends across shivers like a bucket of ice water to the face in the middle of a snowstorm.

“Songs of Ill Hope and Desperation” is a killer of hopes and dreams, a black hole of decay that will suck in anybody foolish enough to peer close enough into it. The album can become overwhelming at times, as even the melodic moments are like a sledgehammer to the chest. Clinging To The Trees Of A Forest Fire has mixed grindcore and sludge/doom to form a horrifying piece of music that will make jolly people turn into depressed mush.

Highs: Heavy as cement, effective blend of doom and grindcore, gritty production suits the music.

Lows: Closer "Remove The Light" plods on excessively, the overly-harsh sound may turn off some.

Bottom line: Music for depressed and bitter lost souls of society.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)