If These Trees Could Talk: Above The Earth, Below The Sky/Red Forest

First two albums from the resurgent Ohio band.

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This Akron, Ohio outfit began life as a college band in drummer Zach Kelly’s basement back in 2005.

An eponymous EP followed the next year and debut LP Above the Earth, Below the Sky finally emerged in 2009. Blurring the line between post-metal, stop-start rhythmic breaks and atmospheric post-rock, it treads a well-trodden path for sure, but on tracks like What’s In The Ground Belongs To You they showcase more than enough verve and self-assurance to pull it off. Frenetic soundscapes of guitar delays are offset by passages of drop-tuned chords forming a wall of distortion, but though this formula is redeployed on tracks like Below The Sky and The Sun Is In The North, it’s not executed again with quite the same fluency. Released three years later, Red Forest was their breakthrough record, and it’s clear why: both in terms of songwriting and production, it is superior. From the intro of opener proper The First Fire, there’s a tangible focus on stronger, more immediate riffs and clearer melodies. This trend continues on Barren Lands Of The Modern Dinosaur and Aleutian Clouds, but the highlight of the record remains They Speak With Knives, with its driving triplet delays and rushing, dam-bursting distorted sections. If there’s one consistent flaw, it’s that the band don’t offer a great deal of variation and, as such, a listener is likely to either love or hate them. Where post-metal groups like Isis offshoot Palms have offset a familiar template by using vocals, or Russian Circles, who employ fast tempos and a broad dynamic range, If These Trees Could Talk have found a sound and they stick to it. With the band gearing up to release their third album on Metal Blade later this year, these are timely reissues indeed, and Red Forest alone deserves to lure in a whole new legion of fans.