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A melancholic ode to your brain, heart and soul - 90%

kluseba, December 6th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2019, CD + DVD, Season of Mist

I have been waiting for this release for almost ten years and I'm glad that it actually ended up seeing the light of day today. French progressive gothic metal band The Old Dead Tree was one of the most creative, emotional and unique bands of the past decade and each of its stunning studio records is an epic milestone that other genre bands wished they wrote. The group split up while recording a fourth record a decade ago but came back to release the final five songs written together along with an intense documentary detailing the band's stunning career to bid farewell for good.

In many cases, bands fail to meet expectations when they have been silent so long. This isn't the case at all for The End. The Old Dead Tree picks the fans up right where it left them with The Water Fields twelve years earlier. The five songs here are filled with sorrowful melancholia, intellectual quietude and deep sorrow. These tracks will take a few spins to unfold but constantly grow on you, haunt you and move you to the core and ultimately leave a lasting impression.

The opener ''Sorrow'' starts with fragile piano melodies that soon turn dark and give place to plodding yet menacing riffs that should please doom metal fans. The track gets more epic when sorrowful guitar tones are smoothly added to the melting pot. All these things are happening in the opening two minutes before any vocals set in. These haven't changed at all since Manuel Munoz sounds as desperate, mournful and resilient as ever and his unique French accent blends in perfectly. His sorrowful clean vocals are as efficient as his bleak growls that are perfectly balanced. Even though the opening song doesn't have much of a conventional structure and goes through multiple changes, the vocals are the element that keeps everything together and gives the challenging track some flow.

Up next, the band offers ''Someone Should Know (The Truth)'' that is a little bit more structured and rhythmic than the progressive opener. This song in particular could have found its righteous place in the middle section of The Water Fields with its transitions from calmer moments with domineering bass guitar play and distorted guitar tones to more powerful sections with heartfelt vocals and intense drum patterns.

The middle track on this extended play is ''Kids'' which is the most rhythmic track with its simplistic but efficient verses while the bridges are dramatic, epic and longing in a way that is nearly cinematic. As a matter of fact, this song would be the perfect fit for the soundtrack of a nostalgic film noir.

''Raise'' starts with mournful guitar tones and dramatic piano sounds before it unfolds as vibrant and emotional ballad. The vocals add a poetic touch as some of the lyrics are offered in spoken words. The few faster guitar riffs and haunting screams contrast the calm and intellectual sections perfectly.

Album closer ''The End... Again'' offers the tearjerking conclusion you have seen coming by a mile. It sounds haunted, fragile and desperate. Like so many other songs, it starts almost timidly with simplistic piano sounds, slightly distorted guitar sounds and shy clean vocals that get more intense with every moment before erupting into one final heartfelt outburst. It's the most emotional track on an intense release and therefore my favourite song on this output. Once the last sounds have faded, you feel like breathing out, laying back and digesting some of the most intense twenty-three minutes of music you might have ever come across. Soon after, you will hit the repeat button to embark on this emotional roller coaster ride again and again.

To conclude, The Old Dead Tree's The End combines the band's strengths as if the group had never split up and convinces as much as the band's three regular studio records. If you have never heard about this band, here's your final chance to discover a unique gothic metal band with brain, heart and soul that is often compared to groups such as Katatonia and Opeth but actually even better than these genre veterans. If you don't believe me, give this release a few spins and get ready to discover this group's entire discography. Here's hope that the positive reception this release has received so far might convince the band to change its mind and come back for good one day.