The Killing Tree

The Romance of Helen Trent

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The Killing Tree are truly a marvelous formation of epic proportions, as while the members all hail from lesser-known hardcore acts such as Rise Against, Synnecrosis, Baxter, and Arma Angelus, they have somehow joined to create one of 2002's most stimulating hardcore releases. The Romance of Helen Trent is a volatile blend of melody, technical prowess, and blistering heavy metal crunch that somehow results in an outstanding yet original piece of art that excels at pelting the listener with unbridled emotion. "Prelude to Pain" lays its foundation in firm heavy metal song structures, yet squeezes in hardcore-like anthemic choruses and staggering breakdowns. The true beauty of The Romance of Helen Trent is that each and every song is given ample time to develop, while its lyrical stability propels it past the normal boundaries one expects from such a group. While many hardcore bands slip in an instrumental to serve as a relaxing moment in between cathartic odes to relationships and the scene, the Killing Tree put as much time and dedication to their instrumental "Soundtrack to a Failing Relationship," allowing the song to build through four-plus minutes of bliss. At times the Killing Tree recall At the Drive-In's fabulous avant-garde post-hardcore rock, yet manage to effectively place their trademark sound here and avoid becoming just another impersonation. It may come as a surprise, but these men somehow manage to allow each individual instrument to be recognizable and equally prominent, unusual for a hardcore scene which relies more on the noise made then the skill involved. Simply put, the Killing Tree have released an amazing album that never once loses its focus, and for those who enjoy the styles presented here, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better way to spend an hour.

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