Trees - Light's Bane Review
by Mark Hensch
Light's Bane is the debut recording by Portland, Oregon blackened drone outfit Trees. Measured on its own merits, Bane is a decent if unremarkable EP. Placed within the context of other misanthropic drone acts, however, it is uninspiring and forgettable. Less like endless woods and more like a fleeting black cloud, Bane is a suffocating dirge which undeniably exudes evil but leaves only the smallest of impressions.
In a wise move, the band winnows their debut's two songs into a tidy 27 minutes. In this window of time, a hazy yet interesting smog seeps into eardrums. The atmosphere is undeniable; each of the songs smothers with choking, blackened ash. Problems occur when one realizes this is hardly new devastation - acts like Sunn-O))), Moss, and even Worm Phlegm have laid waste for quite some time. Put simply, same smoke, different fire.
"Nothing" epitomizes this shortcoming in a nutshell. Clocking in at just over 15 minutes, it agonizingly plods through waves of blinding fuzz. The only marker searing through this invisibility are the acidic vocals, delivered with all the hopeless shrieking of a true nihilist. Even the title is empty of significance, instead pointing towards the reality of non-being or something like that. Quite frankly, it is old hat and "Nothing" worth getting excited over.
"Black" follows much the same vein, sinking into depths of despair and anguish. At one point it drifts into a dull hum, slowly fading into quiet oblivion with a soft curveball which works wonders. The eventual return of full-on riffs feels anti-climatic, however, and the album ends in a tedious layer of wooly sound.
Long story short, Light's Bane offers enough soul-crushing for drone fanatics but not enough originality or individuality for others. A setback in music such as this is the apathy which is a by-product of entering its void; I find this recording neither offensive nor essential. Each should judge this by their own merits, as I personally find it hovering between banality and brutality. As it stands, Trees' debut exhibits more bark than bite.
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