witness tree - breathe in
Witness Tree has been playing music longer than a majority of our readers have been alive. Initially forming in 1992 they started out as an acoustic trio that consisted of Steve Kudlacek (voice, guitar), Alan Mansfield (guitar), and Eric Slater (bass). As time went on they advanced from playing coffee shops to bigger venues, refined their sound and eventually added members. In 2000, they disbanded for a number of reasons but I have to give them credit. They did it for eight years, which in band years is about 25. In 2008 two of the original members and PJ Harding (drums) decided to revive some of the chemistry they had back in the 90’s and see what would happen. Since I have not heard their previous album I cannot compare this to their older material but I don't really think that will be necessary anyway. As I started listening to Breathe In I noticed a fair amount of influence from the late 80’s and early 90’s. Make no doubt about it these guys are a rock band. They like their guitar solos, they like their distortion, and they like a heavy dose of riffs that draw comparisons to some of your favorite hard rock and grunge bands from the 90’s. While the music feels to be more rooted in 90’s hard rock like Soundgarden, Alice In Chains and Stone Temple Pilots, Steve Kudlacek’s voice has a very distinct 80’s sludge metal type vibe. It’s cool and he often goes into chameleon mode quite often even during the same song by changing his tone and delivery.
The new album starts off with a rocker “Calling All Cars.” The song is essentially a pop song smothered in real warm sounding distortion (a great guitar tone all around). The drum and bass are steady, creating the backbone of the song. Nothing too fancy here by either players but it does what it needs to. Another solid song is “Ready or Not” which utilizes similar tones as the first song while “Lights Out” waits until about the halfway point to start rocking out. Arguably the best song on the album is “Memory,” which has great vocal harmonies, a really catchy chorus and shows overall good craftsmanship. When I heard the acoustic guitar on “White Ending” I thought they might close the album with a sparse, acoustic ballad but I was wrong. The album ends with a bang rather than a whimper.
What impressed me most about this band was that you can tell by listening to these songs that these guys are still having fun. They seem to be playing what they enjoy and there isn’t anything wrong with that.
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