This album didn’t make my top 10 of 2010 for the simple reason that I hadn’t heard it yet. Otherwise, it would have made an appearance for sure.
Man-Eating Tree is a project featuring Vessa Ranta – the drummer of Sentenced – along with Janne Markus (ex Poisonblack) and an amazing vocalist named Tuomas Tuominen, who used to be in a band called Fall of the Leafe. Other band members hail from Embraze and Reflexion. No Clean Singing mentioned Man-Eating Tree a while back as one of the few bands with clean singing they can actually tolerate, and that kind of high-praise coupled with a name like “Man-Eating Tree” meant they were high on my “to-listen” list.
From the opening track “Lathing a New Man”, the brooding music draws you in. This isn’t happy music, but it’s not as bleak and depressing as, say, Burzum or Skepticism. I find it introspective, inspiring, evocative of ghosts and shadows. Even the song titles beckon with hidden mysteries … The second-to-last track, “Instead of Sand and Stone”, drips with atmosphere and evokes the sense of being lost in a labyrinth, as the lyrics suggest. The dirgelike riffs and tom-heavy drums create the perfect atmosphere for Tuominen’s amazing vocal performance. Fans of vocally-driven progressive bands like Pain of Salvation will probably love Man Eating Tree – they evoke that same brooding atmosphere, the same gothic poetry.
Man-Eating Tree blend gothic and progressive metal elements without the usual overblown technical wankery. The songs are all they need to be, nothing more. There are no 12 minute epics here, just perfectly executed dark soundscapes and solid vocal hooks. You won’t find a lots of headbanging riffage or double-bass drumming, and this would be what I would consider a “mellow” metal album, but if stunning vocals and dark atmosphere really get your goats up, this is the album for you.
Standout tracks include … (I really want to say “all of them”) Nights in White Satin (a Moody Blues cover), Lathing a New Man, Instead of Sand and Stone, and the single, Out of the Wind. In this song in particular, Tuominen’s vocal steal the limelight – the music wrapping him in tendrils of winter. You feel as though you’re a part of the story. It’s gloomy and profoundly gothic, but beautiful too.
Here’s another song for you to enjoy:
I know most of you are coming in to summer now, but here in the Antipodes, it’s getting chillier by the day. I spend most evenings curled up by the fire reading and painting. This is the perfect album to listen to on a cold autumn night, with the rain beating down outside. You can check out the Man-Eating Tree myspace page or official website.