Trees – Sickness In… (CD, Crucial Blast)

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Trees are heavy; there’s really no doubt about it. They perform lumbering doom/drone metal, the sort of thing you’d expect to hear from Khanate or Sunn 0)))’s metal output or maybe a car engine backfiring down a crisp woodland dirt path. Guitar and drum hits clash together as Lenny Smith delivers tortured vocals; you’ll think the next chord will come, and it won’t, at least not at the tempo expected. Trees refuse to play by the rules of doom metal, opting for an even slower approach to rhythm than others in the genre.

Sickness In… doesn’t change things very much from the rest of their output. There are still just two tracks on this release clocking in at 15 minutes apiece; the tracks are still just barely formulated, resembling almost an amorphous blob of sound that feels improvised during the time of recording. Both tracks have flurries of feedback and distortion that break up the constant onslaught of droning chords, and in a way this does help to differentiate them, but ultimately Sickness In… is another release that refuses to change the speed of Trees’ music.

It can be both a good and bad thing. There are moments when these tracks are crushingly heavy, and for a while, the consistent plod of chords works. But across two tracks (and Trees’ discography), this approach grows tired and, worse, expected. There’s no shock in what Trees does; going from “Cover Your Mouth” to “Perish” does not yield new territory or an emphasis on expansion. Trees just do what they do, and you accept it or you stop listening.

Depending on your mood, Trees can grab you or lose you. At some point, it’s difficult to decipher if Sickness In… is intensely bleak and grueling or if it’s just Smith howling out his grocery list to some guys banging a guitar against a cymbal. I guess it’s both, and that makes it commendable and disappointing at the same time.

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