Review Summary: A brilliant musical dedication bred from tragedy A deep frustration's running through my veins
A dark light's entering the church
By pale glass windows
And I feel so cold.
I can't stop looking at the wooden box placed
In the very centre of the nave.
I'm trying to imagine you...
We're in the home
Of life and death,
Where each being takes end.
French Metal band The Old Dead Tree began it’s life in the city of Paris in 1997. The sought to play an interesting and quite unique mix of death metal, progressive, doom metal, and dark metal. Vocalist and guitarist Manuel Munoz and guitarist Nicolas Chevrollier were the founding members of the band, soon joined by drummer Frederic Guillemot and bassist Vincent Danhier. They wrote music over the next few years, and soon released their first EP entitled The Blossom
in 1999. It generated a small fan base which appreciated their style of slow, pounding guitar riffs and smooth transitions between clean and growled vocals. In 1999, however, their successful and promising debut would be thrown into the air.
A few months after the release of The Blossom
, Frederic Guillemot committed suicide, and amidst all of the confusion, mourning, and chaos, the band’s future would be paved.
After the suicide, the band members were inspired to describe the dramatic loss of their band mate and friend by expressing their darkest feelings and frustration which his death provoked in a brand new concept album based around this experience. The result, after much thought and four years of preparation, was 2003’s The Nameless Disease
. It was an exercise in all that was running through the head’s of the remaining members, something which varied from depression to confusion, raw anger, grief, sorrow, remorse, apathy, and frustration.
All the things let undone,
All the smiles that are gone,
All the love you won't know,
All the places you won't go.
It’s evident in everything from the song titles to the guitar riffs what exactly each song portrays, and what each song is meant to say in regard to this tragedy. It is a concept which seems so real, and seems so close to the hearts of everyone who wrote music on this album. It’s this sense of closeness and direct influence which makes the album concept execute so well. The lyrics seem like unspoken words out of each band member’s head, words which have to be released one way or another. It’s strange how you can just choose a random song and know exactly what emotion is going on in the song. If you listen to “How Could You”, it’s quite obvious that this song expresses deep mistrust and anger toward Guillemot, with vocalist Manuel Munoz in simple disbelief that it all happened. “It’s The Same For Everyone” is an anthem written in the deepest stages of depression and uncertainty, something evident from the vocals to the guitar riffs. The album strangely seems much longer than its 50 minute play time would hint, something which is both surprising and constantly evident while you try to listen to The Nameless Disease
in one sitting.
The album is instrumentally solid, showing a heavy dose of doom-influenced song structures and musical style. The guitar riffs can be slow, crushing, and at times very melodic. The music takes numerous breaks throughout the album, slowing down to a crawl at some points where nothing but a simple drum beat and the vocals progress the songs. At other times, however, the music can be upbeat, melodic, and fast paced. Toward the end of “It’s The Same For Everyone” The Old Dead Tree manages to incorporate a really impressive and quite inspiring guitar solo, which continues through the ending chorus. With the guitars comes the majority of the music, something which isn’t left to the acoustic guitar alone. In the short, ballad-like track “All…”, nothing but acoustic guitars and drums are used, continuing into the final track “The Bathroom Monologue”. Throughout the album, you will hear some really intense melodies which give a strong nod toward melodic death metal, adding to the overall appeal of the music.
The vocals may be hit or miss for some. For the majority of the running time, the vocals are sung cleanly in a voice which is quite hard to compare to anything else. They aren’t poorly performed at all, quite the contrary actually, they are performed with nothing but pure emotion fueling them, and it is quite noticeable in some songs how the vocalist feels about his friend’s suicide. They aren’t to everyone’s liking though, and may take some time to become more tolerable to some people. Don’t fear, though, since the vocals sometimes transition to a really, really well-performed death metal growl, such as some of the passages in “How Could You”. So, for those who don’t like just clean vocals (me being one of them) there is a fair share of those growled vocals which so many metal fans appreciate. The real staple of the album, and the vocal performance, however, is the great execution of the clean vocals.
Give you the strength
To fight for life
To face your pain
But you have preferred
To close your eyes and run away.
I imagine your face
Quietly kissing death
With The Nameless Disease
, The Old Dead Tree have written and performed one of the finest concept albums I have had the pleasure to listen to. While it is far short of a classic metal album, it is an accessible listen which many metal fans will like. The album shows that if a band can take a tragedy so devastating as this one, they can unleash their emotions into an album which will have an uncanny way of captivating the listener and making them feel the pain, the sorrow, the rage which has occurred before you.
+ Great guitar riffs
+ Brilliant realization of a concept
+ Excellent vocal performance
+ Solid musicianship
+ Good variance
- Vocals may take a while to get used to
- Some parts may become boring or repetitive