• The Old Dead Tree - The Nameless Disease Demos (2013) (10/10)

    Genre: Progressive Gothic Metal
    Label: Self-production
    Playing time: 32:49
    Band homepage: -

    Tracklist:

    1. We Cry As One
    2. Joy & Happiness
    3. Transition
    4. All…
    5. How Could You?
    6. Quietly Kissing Death
    7. It Can’t Be!
     

    I could write for hours and hours about the French Progressive Gothic Metal band THE OLD DEAD TREE. Among AMORPHIS and THE VISION BLEAK, this is probably my favourite band of all times and they had delivered three outstanding full length releases despite many line-up changes and tragic events such as the suicide of the first guitar player Frédéric Guillemot that inspired them to write their first conceptual record “The Nameless Disease” that deals with the feelings of friends and family members after the tragic event. The band split up in November 2009 and this message had been quite hard to digest for me back in the days. Now, the band is back to underline the tenth anniversary of “The Nameless Disease”. The guys just released demo versions of seven songs from the debut record and announced to play the entire record on stage during the 2013 edition of the Hellfest Open Air in addition to some individual concerts. I hope the band doesn’t only honour this legendary release but decides to go further and put out a fourth full length album.

    What’s so fascinating about that band? It’s actually quite hard to explain. It’s about the authentic and emotionally driven atmosphere. It’s about the stunning song writing that includes many changes and creative ideas without losing its clear guiding line. It’s about the incredible vocals by my favourite singer Manuel Munoz who performs melancholic hooks but also incredibly well done growls. It’s about the dreamy, transcending but still gripping and heavy guitar performance. It’s about the pumping bass guitar and the diversified drumming. It’s about the lyrics that are maybe filled with spelling mistakes and some strange vocabulary but that are written straight from the heart. Apart of the excellent debut release “The Nameless Disease” and the strong last output “The Water Fields”, I must underline the band’s second output “The Perpetual Motion”. It’s simply one of the best albums ever done in my opinion. I would only put two albums (The VISION BLEAK’s “Carpathia: A Dramatic Poem” and AMORPHIS’ “Am Universum”) on the same level as this one. If you have never checked out this band before, do it now. You can thank me later.

    Now, this review is dedicated to spread the word about the band’s reunion and to take a look on the demo versions of “The Nameless Disease” that the band has made available for free. The main difference between the demo versions and the original release is that these versions here sound straighter and more aggressive. The flow is sometimes less good and there are a few playing mistakes here and there but the raw edge gives the songs a different identity. The songs are more aggressive and have a certain underground charm. Many tracks are longer than the final versions and include more instrumental interludes, especially towards the end of the tracks. These lengths though fit well to the songs and can’t be described as unnecessary. I’m used to the shortened versions and adore them but these longer tracks are as enjoyable and maybe even better at some points as in the opening “We Cry As One” that has a very bleak and dark middle part and an even more emotional vocal performance than the clean version. “Joy & Happiness” also gets a tougher edge while the vocals remain very longing and melancholic which creates an addictive contrast that strikes me even more than the great version I have known before.

    Let’s add that demo versions of a few songs from the debut have been released but not every song has its demo version which I think is rather sad because I would have liked to listen to raw versions of all songs. On the other side, the outstanding and diversified epic “It’s The Same For Everyone” can be found on the demo release “The Blossom” from 1999. The other missing demo songs are “I Won’t Follow Him”, “Somewhere Else” and “The Bathroom Monologue”. The seven demo songs haven’t been released in a proper order but you could decide to listen to them according to the original track list which I would highly suggest you.

    In the end, the demo versions are as excellent as the clean versions. While they remember the classic material, they also offer a few more emotions and ideas and complete the other versions very well. Both the original record and these demo tracks are stunning and should get more attention inside the metal community. This band is simply unique and if you have missed them, this reunion is your unique chance to get in touch with them.

    (Online March 14, 2013)

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