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This is no(w) farewell - 75%

kluseba, May 31st, 2015
Written based on this version: 1999, CD, Independent

‘‘The Blossom“ is a now legendary demo that sold about 1,400 copies and got French progressive gothic metal quartet The Old Dead Tree signed to renowned label Season Of Mist. The four tracks were released about one month and a half before drummer Frédéric Guillemot decided to end his life. The self-recorded EP was professionally reissued and sold as digital download fourteen years after its original release to underline the band’s short-living comeback in order to honour the tenth anniversary of the record “The Nameless Disease”.

The four songs on this twenty-three minute long release already show the band’s talent to write atmospheric songs with depressive lyrics and melancholic melodies. The mixture of longing clean vocals and dark growls from talented singer Manuel Munoz is already the outstanding trademark of the band. What is still mostly missing on this demo is the cohesive fusion of slow and numbing passages that meet emotional outbursts with faster riffs. The flow between the different band members isn’t as convoluted as on later outputs. The progressive elements from future albums such as influences from other genres and the instant flow between the different songs aren’t present yet. Obviously, the production is still a little bit muddy but it’s quite good considering the budget and the circumstances. Still, the songs aren’t one-dimensional and the mood of this release is already really captivating.

The first two songs of the release were recorded again for the debut album four years later with new drummer Franck Métayer from the death and thrash metal band Kobal. For the debut full length effort, both tracks have been shortened for a minute and half a minute, respectively. They sound more to the point, slightly heavier and also faster and got rid of some narrative passages and additional orchestrations. The lyrics also changed and deal directly with the suicide of their former band mate and its consequences. Stylistically, the original versions are even more depressive and dragging. I would describe them as gothic metal tracks with more obvious doom metal influences. The original songs are significantly different enough from the versions that made it onto “The Nameless Disease” four years later to justify a purchase of this demo. Personally, I prefer the more concise yet dynamical later versions but the gloomy and sluggish original songs aren’t bad by any means.

The other two tracks are exclusive to this release and probably the most interesting material for the few but faithful die-hard fans that haven’t forgotten about the band after all these years. On the other side, these two songs that weren’t re-recorded are also weaker than the opening duo. “Chained to Life” is a slow- to mid-paced stomper with simple riffs and a few distorted guitar sounds. The drumming on this track is maybe a little bit more dynamical than on the other songs. The outstanding element in this song is once again the vocals that mix clean laments with a few strong growls that sound a little bit darker and deeper than on later outputs. It’s a really good song but it would have sounded below average on any of the band’s brilliant three studio records. “Last Sigh” employs the strong growls best and adds some echoing effects to the efficient vocals. Musically, we get another slow- to mid-paced track that offers several breaks with acoustic guitar passages and sound samples that seem to be taken from a playground. This may be a hint at the band’s more complex and progressive song writing in the future but on this track, the breaks rather harm the flow of the tune. In my opinion, the song has a few promising ideas but they don’t always fit together and the track seems to go nowhere. It’s clearly the weakest song on this output.

In the end, fans of doom and gothic metal should check this atmospheric demo out and get familiar with this underrated band. Faithful collectors and fans of the band should try to get their hands on one of the rare original pressings. Occasional listeners should simply go for the download. If you like this release, you are going to adore the band’s three regular studio efforts. On a side note, despite having split up five and a half years ago, the band has decided to record and release its very last five tracks together after their comeback tour two years ago. One last extended play which is simply entitled “The End” should therefore be released in the upcoming months.