The Man Eating Tree

1. Harvest Bell
2. At The Green Country Chapel
3. Code Of Surrender
4. Armed
5. Like Mute Companions
6. Exhaled
7. Down To The Color Of The Eye
8. Incendere
9. All You Kept Free
10. Karsikko

Tuomas Tuominen (Vocals)
Janne Markus (Guitars)
Antti Karhu (Guitars)
Mikko Uusimaa (Bass)
Heidi Määttä (Keyboards)
Vesa Ranta (Drums)

Vine (2010)


Tue Madsen (Producer)
Recorded in Antfarm Studios

Released 28/11-2011
Reviewed 28/12-2011

century media

Let's begin this review by throwing out a very philosophical question that you really should ask yourself with every album you review: what exactly is good music? What is it that makes music good? Why is there music that's better than other and what is that makes it better? Well, I guess it is my job to explain that and not yours, and to me good music is a series of sounds that comes in a natural flow and as a result of how they sound together giving you a pleasurable feeling when you hear them. Honestly, you can go on whole bunch of covertly solutions when it comes to music, resulting in you always ending up somewhere safe with something most people will find acceptable. Then there are the experimental ways where you just as well as failure might end up in the clouds of success. Regardless of which way you try, it's never as easy as to just do something and then sit around and cash in the success of it, I guess if it were that easy many more would spend their time doing it. To even have a remote chance of succeeding you first of all need to know what you're doing. You can't make good music without knowing how to make music, what if let's say a surgeon would start operating without even knowing how to do so? Or a climber that starts to climb a mountain without knowing how to make secure knots for the safety line? Or a parachuter that jumps out a plane without knowing how to open a parachute? Or a pilot that tries to fly a plane without knowing how to handle it? It would be insanity… and music is made by the same kind of principals.

Because of all that I just mentioned, I'm so very pleased to announce that I've received an album that not only shout "we know exactly what the fuck we're doing" all over the place but also seem to consist of people that know how to play their instruments, how to sing and how to put songs together as well as how to record, mix and put the album together. This is not just some guys that thinks it would be cool to make an album as so many within the metal genre seems to be. The Man Eating Tree quite apparently knows what the hell they're doing and they've chosen carefully to play the kind of music they play because they apparently know how to sound like this. They might have taken a somewhat safe path sounding like this, since this kind of music normally tends to sound good but it's not like you can pick a genre and automatically end up with a great result - it demands knowledge and feeling. It's a very difficult genre to play with a good result and an album like this is not really the easiest thing to put together. However, The Man Eating Tree succeed on pretty much every level.

This is the second album of The Man Eating Tree and the 53 and a half minutes long album they share with us is just a big structure of melodies played steadily as a concrete mountain. The music is somewhat progressive and the structures are always changed in to something different with an innovative solution that forces the melodies to continue differently than where they seemed to be going in the first place, but even so still maintaining the sound they had. Clearly quite creative, and the emotional vocals by Tuomas Tuominen is so comfortable to hear that a tear sometimes gathers in your eye, despite the fact that the music isn't particularly melancholic (except the standard amount of melancholy that all Finnish bands have). I really feel that this is an album that can make me drop everything I have and just lean my head backwards and let the time flow by. But don't confuse this album with some sort of relaxation tape - there's plenty of raw energy, strength and even some cannibalism in 'Harvest', you can trust me on that.

A thing that really takes me by surprise when I play 'Harvest' is the focus on the drums, something I can't call anything but a great sense for details. It's not often I hear the drums put so much in focus, but on this album they really put a positive touch on this whole album by being so centralised. The guitars are mostly quite slow and continues the touch of the drums, and the even slower mostly slow bass in turn continues this feeling and almost becomes the walls of a dam - they take the biggest load but it's the turbines (the drums) and the hatch (the guitars) that takes all the credits. I feel this album is a long line of overall impressions following overall impressions. There are no instruments taking their own little path ahead to discover their own future and throughout the album the music just breathes and breathes and breathes. In one way it's heavy and angry but at the same time it's so detailed and softly polished. smooth, like a sand papered globe made of clay.

The cover art reminds me about an episode in the first series of Lost and the mood coming from the music delivers some of that mystique as we're used to get from Lost. It wouldn't surprise me at all if someone involved in this album is a bit fond of that series. Also, I would guess there are members of The Man Eating Tree with a fascination of the spiritual world. Everything just sounds so grand and mighty and almost sacral. It's almost like a gigantic choir singing in an even more gigantic church made of stone: after the mandatory goose bumps you're almost ready to accept anything they say… that is until you get the chance to think what you've through more thoroughly.

While I think this album is one of its kind - a unique and personal album that triumph so much that's already on the market in both its own and other genres, I can't help feeling that I miss something when the album has come to an end. And it's not the music I miss, it's the aftertaste. You know, that dominating, warm feeling you have after hearing something truly complete. The melodies, songs and emotions that you just can't let go of but stays with you and comes out your mouth in the form of humming or singing or at least something you unconsciously think about several days after you've heard it. That's what I feel this album lacks.

However… my impression is still that this is an album from which there isn't much more you can wish or hope for. 'Harvest' is an album of seldom matched quality and it's deserves nothing else but a place on top of the grade scale. To think anything else would be, in my opinion, comparable to committing a crime.


Label: Century Media
Three similar bands: Librah/A Perfect Cricle/Type O Negative
Rating: HHHHHHH (6/7)
Reviewer: Caj Källmalm

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