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A dumb lack of intensity but still pretty solid - 77%

kluseba, February 8th, 2011

After two true masterpieces, something went wrong on this album. I have some problems to describe exactly what it is. It's not a musically bad album or something unusual that wouldn't fit to the band as the typical trademarks are still present, but I feel a lack of courage and creativity on this record. There is also a little lack of genius and atmosphere. Almost every song rushes past but there are no catchy melodies, intense moments or touching lyrics. Even after almost ten tries, I have some difficulties to review this album.

The album starts with a heavier song called "Start the fire" that isn't able to create a drowning and melancholic atmosphere like the previous album openers did. The song tries to vary from harsh death metal parts to melancholic and progressive gothic parts but the track sounds too much like a routine job and simply too artificial. This is the problem of most of the songs. A track like "What's done is done" or even the weak "Rise to occasion" have all the trademarks I like about the band, but I would nevertheless describe these song as notoriously dumb and almost faceless as the band doesn't vary that much and hypnotizes in a rather calm and emotionless way.

The stronger tracks are mostly towards the middle and the second part of the album. The very soft and dreamy title track "The water fields" is perfect to relax in an isolated room and has a longing melancholy that sounds fresh and intense. It is without a doubt the best track on the album. "Is your soul for sale" convinces with a very progressive lounge introduction with almost jazzy tones and is amongst the strongest and most diversified tracks on the album. "Regarding Kate" is the track where Manuel Munoz delivers a brilliant job and shows what a diversified and intense singer he is as his voice alone carries the whole and musically rather boring song and its atmosphere. The surprising and weird sounding orchestral influences of the album closer "This is now farewell", that are already slightly present in the rather mediocre "A distant light was shining", leave us on a melancholic note. As one can see, the talent is still there and the album is far from being really bad or a true disappointment but I still feel torn apart about this record.

The album has not the same magic and such a high amount of changes as the two previous ones. The album is still better than anything bands like "Opeth", "Paradise Lost" or "Katatonia" might have done in their careers but all in all it is the band's weakest release. This album may also please you if you like recent stuff from "Moonspell" but this French has honestly said a very proper, unique, experimental and particular sound which you may adore or dislike so that any kind of comparison is only a little hint or allusion.

I am still very sad that this promising and original group broke up as they left a big hole that no other band would be able to fill in again. I hope that they may one day reunite but all that is left to say right now is:

This is now farewell...

A Strong Album After a Mellow Start - 76%

Jick, October 28th, 2008

Aftering releasing a string of your relatively standard gothic metal albums, France's The Old Dead Tree have finally begun to bring formerly trace elements from their music forward, eschewing the more "dark rock" oriented sound of their earlier albums for a more mature, doom influenced gothic metal sound. However, they still have a ways to go.

Know that this isn't the gothic metal of rock radio. Don't expect the trumped up female fronted rock of The Gathering's recent material or of Lacuna Coil. However, don't expect thick, crunchy riffs and beauty and the beast vocals à la Draconian either. I see this release somewhat as a union of Paradise Lost's gothic/doom period and mid period Katatonia with the very mellow gothic rock of the band's earlier releases.

Atmospheric and mellow tracks abound on The Water Fields, full of ethereal tenor vocals and slow rhythms. Interspersed throughout these songs are riffs that make you wonder if you just changed CD's on accident, and growls reminiscent of Mikael Akerfeldt on 'Brave Murder Day' are combined with the occasional throaty passage, something having more in common with the baritone vocals of Paradise Lost than Katatonia, an obvious influence on the band.

The lyrical themes vary throughout the album. Some combine the melancholic and romantic themes of gothic metal with the seemingly angry, depressive lyrics typical of death/doom bands, but the vast majority seem to be reminiscent of angst ridden lines you'd expect from Evanescence or Nickleback.

'She's really fine
Smiling and laughing all the time.
She says she's fine,
But she knows she's wrong'

Highlights of the album include "Dive" and "Start the Fire." It's on these tracks that the band really comes together, combining their varied sounds to create tracks that send you through a creative and immersive soundscape. "What's Done Is Done" is another song that goes through a continued flip-flop between crunchy death/doom and gothic metal passages. It is, however, brought down by a throwback to the band's older material in the form of poppy choruses, the one thing that really brings this album down.

Overall, this album is a decent release, but nothing amazing. It's strength comes from showing this band's potential to become a great doom metal act., just don't expect to enjoy it too much if your tastes fall on the darker and heavier end of the gothic and doom metal spectrums. However, if you enjoy Moonspell, Katatonia's or Paradise Lost's later albums, by all means, give this album a try.