Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire

Songs of Ill Hope and Desperation

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Denver-based death/grind quartet Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire make their Prosthetic Records debut, after one album on a tiny indie, and it's a ferocious assault recommended to fans of noisy, discordant acts like Wetnurse, Early Graves, and Pig Destroyer. The band's guitar riffs are detuned, never mustering the precision of death metal when they can go for the exploding-head power of grindcore and art noise instead. Track titles like "Shat Out My Bones," "Recession," "Bouquet of Self Pity," and "Leather Hands" tell the tale -- this is a band telling tales of poverty, despair, and failure. There's no real catharsis here; once you press play, you're wallowing in Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire's pain for 35 minutes. In that way, they recall squalor-fixated no wave acts like Teenage Jesus & the Jerks and early Swans more than they do metal bands, who typically aim for some kind of affirmation and transcendence, even if it's through splattery gore/occult fantasies. Songs of Ill Hope and Desperation lives up to its title, but by virtue of its very relentlessness and speed still manages to remain entertaining.

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