Review Summary: Heavy, distorted, melodic rock, but not quite grunge
Uncle Anesthesia is an album by Seattle semi-grunge rockers Screaming Trees that displays a really interesting blend of influences and is a classic example of their unique sound. Released during the rise of grunge, this album differs slightly from the classic "Seattle sound".
On "Uncle Anesthesia", there is a large mash up of several distinctly different styles of music that make up the sound of the Screaming Trees. Their primary influence is heavy, melodic, distorted rock, and make no mistake; Screaming Trees are a rock band first and foremost, but they add more depth to their music with light Eastern and psyhedelic moods for passages of songs. Add to this the versatile, occasionally Vedder-esque baritone of Mark Lanegan and you have one hell of a unique sound. The songs on "Uncle Anesthesia" seem to stick loosely to a formula of a heavily distorted, yet somewhat ambient guitar melody that is accompanied by often very fast drumming and Lanegans very deep, clear vocals. There are frequent solos which compliment the other aspects of the songs very well, they enhance the melody and dont distract us entirely from it which gives the listener a balanced and consistent listen.
'Uncle Anesthesia" makes it apparent that melody is crucial to the Screaming Trees' sound. Whilst they are considered by many as a grunge band, and do occasionally sound like Pearl Jam or Soundgarden, they would rather maintain their heavy, atmospheric, moody melody than end a song in a wash of screaming and guitar feedback as Mudhoney and Nirvana would often do. The ambience created by the Eastern and psychedelic influences mentioned earlier also further distances them from grunge bands who were more often fuelled by rage and discontent, something the Screaming Trees never seemed to be. The introduction to "Caught Between" is a good example of the Eastern tinge applied to their heavy rock sound, as is the very fast but soft drumming that is scattered throughout the album. Mark Lanegans vocals compliment the bands musical direction very well, they are often delivered as a deep baritone but also become softer and edgier in different parts, dependent on the mood of the song. The album is lyrically sound but not amazing, the lyrics suit the vibe of the album but sometimes seem a bit too detached.
Overall, "Uncle Anesthesia" is a varied and interesting album with a variety of influences that blend together well. Occasionally the music seems like it is meandering too far and it sounds very detached in parts, but these moments are small and few. The Screaming Trees have crafted a very melodic, heavy and sometimes ambient record which stands alone for its unique sound. It should appeal to fans of bands like The Tea Party, Pearl Jam and even King Crimson fans might enjoy this.