Dendritic Arbor – Sylvan Matriarch (self-released, 26 March 2013)
Good morning, folks! What’s new with you?? I have to tell you a story about what happened to me recently, but it’s a little bit embarassing…
So I’m sure you all remember Quercus, guitarist/vocalist for that band of black metal eco-terrorists Dendritic Arbor — he and I had a conversation about his band last month when they were performing at the Winter’s Wake pre-fest show (which you can read here). As you’ll recall, there was some discussion at that time about their forthcoming release Sylvan Matriarch…
Anyway, fast-forward to a couple days ago, and I got a message from Mr. Quercus, where he asked me whether I do album reviews on this website. Well. That was sort of a reality check for me — I know that I’ve been very preoccupied lately and have been writing very, very little. And what I have been posting recently has largely consisted of interviews, either conducted by myself or by someone else. But at that moment I realized, geez, you really couldn’t tell just by looking — unless you were to dig pretty deep — that reviewing music is sort of supposed to be the primary purpose of this website!
So I got my hands on a copy of Sylvan Matriarch, which is officially available today — it actually went up on Bandcamp yesterday, but tonight Dendritic Arbor will be playing a show to celebrate the release. I’ve got all the information you need about the album, the show, AND a special super-limited bundle were you can get a whole bunch of goodies for a really low price, IF you’re one of the first few people to jump on this deal!
The first time I heard of Dendritic Arbor — which, besides Quercus, also includes Honorary Blakius (guitar/vocals), Boris Malus (bass/vocals), and Thaddeus (drums); current or former members of Colossus, October, Bear Skull, and Oroku Saki — was when the details of the Winter’s Wake pre-fest show first got announced.
When I shared that news, having read a description of the band but not having actually heard them yet, I referred to them as a black metal version of The Lorax. The funny thing is, I didn’t realize at that time just how appropriate that comparison would be.
In the story by Dr. Seuss, the title character repeatedly claims to “speak for the trees” — since they have no voice of their own. What he means, though, is that he stands around like some hippie protester, shouting lectures at people.
Dendritic Arbor also “speak for the trees,” but here it’s in a much more literal sense: they have described their music as “an attempt to sonically display our universe’s emotions from years of abuse.” In other words, the natural world has been tortured and scarred for the selfish benefit of mankind, and if Nature personified could tell you how it feels, this is what that might sound like.
As you’d probably guess, the result is not very pretty. No, it’s harsh and cold and angry, simultaneously expressing anguish as well as the desire to inflict an equal amount of pain in vengeance. Beginning with the strains of synthetic noise in the introductory track — almost like an unnatural mockery of chirping birds and other sounds one might hear in some sort of grotesque electronic forest — the band’s intention immediately becomes apparent: an ugliness is going to be inflicted upon the listeners’ ears that will be equal in intensity to the ugliness that has been inflicted upon the environment.
Musically, the content here is clearly grounded in black metal — it does sound rather harsh and vile, and is peppered with plenty of blastbeats — and the vocals definitely have a blackened quality to them. But the construction has a bit more variation to it, drawing influence from other genres of metal, in an experimental fashion reminiscent of someone like Krallice. The middle two songs, “Concrete Brine” and “Our Mother Disgraced” combine lo-fi blackness with harsh noise and elements of death metal slow-downs. The latter is a bit more black metal-oriented, while the former might be more accurately described as blackened death-grind.
Approximately half of the album’s running length consists of the closing track, “Drifting,” which veers in an even more avant-garde, experimental direction. Wavering between a plodding industrial march-beat of distorted bass and almost synthesized-sounding drums, and a full-on assault of blackened rage, and then back again, like some sort of hellish two-step in an infernal night club, this song is more like a bumpy ride over rough terrain than its title might imply — or perhaps it could be described as drifting along on a very turbulent river current, or fitfully tossing one’s way through a restless night of half-conscious nightmares.
Sylvan Matriarch is now available online: stream it via Bandcamp using the widget below, or you can also buy a copy — the first 30 orders will also include a handprinted set of liner notes, stickers, patches, and a shirt, all for just six bucks! Those limited-edition bundles surely won’t last long so you’ll want to take advantage of this right away!!
As mentioned earlier, the band’s release show is being held tonight (Tuesday, 26 March) at Kopec’s Bar; also scheduled to appear are Call of the Void from Colorado, Ambassador Gun from Minnesota, and Pittsburgh’s Wrought Iron. Get additional details (and RSVP to this event) here.