It’s Monday and Mondays suck so let’s grind it out with…Tusk Tree of No Return.
Yeah, let’s change things up a bit. Maybe previous posts have been too straight forward. Maybe you’ve been a little burnt out by that and feel like shying away from the column. Doubtless someone has gone full smug on that last sentence, thinking, “Oh, grind? P’shaw!” Well, here’s something a little off the radar; something a little more obscure to some, and something worth revisiting to others.
I didn’t know who Tusk was until about 72 hours ago. And frankly when they came out I was only barely into this kind of genre. Or sound. Or where ever the hell you’d toss it.
If you search “tusk band” on Google you’ll get a bunch of pages about a Fleetwood Mac tribute group. Truly a band that needs tribute. So, yeah, save yourself some grief and just use the Bandcamp link provided below. Tusk was a Chicago, IL band comprised of Laurent Schroeder-Lebec (bass), Larry Herweg (drums) and Trevor de Brauw (guitar/banjo/bowed mandolin, keyboards) all of Pelican, as well as Jody Minnoch (Everlast; RIP 2014; keyboards, vocals, tambourine) and Noam Belkind (keyboards, theremin, noise devices). And what a peculiar band they were.
One could argue that this falls into the grind “avant-garde” category. To which, some might argue that no such thing exists, as grindcore is meant to be as brief, aggressive and as punk as possible. But Tree of No Return does fit the genre, thought it very much doesn’t have an interest in staying confined to the genre, just using it as a basis. At times.
The strong presence of Pelican is immediate. The post-metal vibe picks up shortly after the title track kicks off the album. But give it a few and Tusk gets to the blasting. And as energizing and thoroughly teeth clenching as the band becomes, the album is something to stop and take in. The somber/dark/mysterious mood that follows the album is disarming, because even when Tusk is going off the rails, it holds true to its atmosphere.
The first few tracks aren’t very long. They only pad about one quarter of the total run time. Tree of No Return spends the majority of its time on two eight-minute tracks. “Starvation Dimentia” channels Petitioning the Empty Sky/When Forever Comes Crashing-era Converge so hard that you would swear you heard this before. Not to mention the song gets incredibly trippy and feverish the further you delve into it. From maddening blasts to, quiet echoing vocals, and back into the frothing rage.
Closing things off, the final track “Ursus Arctos – Walk the Valley” hangs largely onto building an ambient/noisy closer with some savage drum work. It’s like the building of madness. The track starts out simply enough and continues to add elements until it’s losing its mind. It’s like the track took four more tabs of acid and ran with it.
Maybe this one is going off the deep end a for grindcore purists. Tree of No Return has a lot of grindcore elements in it, but it’s not devoid of other influences, namely those of post-metal or noise/ambience. Granted the marriage of noise and grind has long been a happy one, it’s still very different here. Tree of No Return might snap your mind like a twig at times if you give it enough of your attention, but it may also bore the hell out of you. It’s not for everyone, especially not for people that want one, massively aggressive album. If you like something adventurous, and still very grindy, then get into this.
And even if you don’t like it, it’s a free download so no loss.