France is not the first country that comes to mind when one thinks of European metal -- Sweden, Norway, England, and Germany, certainly, but not France (at least as of late 2007). Nonetheless, France has given us some noteworthy metal bands: Blut Aus Nord is a prime example, and the Old Dead Tree is also one of them despite the band's many lineup changes. On this 2007 recording (which lead singer Manuel Munoz has described as "a concept album about avoidance, kidding oneself and the urge we have to hide from reality and to remain passive when facing difficult life experiences"), Munoz is joined by bassist Vincent Danhier, new guitarist Gilles Moinet, and yet another drummer, Foued Moukid, who has left the band since this 47-minute CD was recorded. But the revolving door syndrome does not prevent the Old Dead Tree from making The Water Fields a worthwhile metal disc. The question is: what kind of metal? The Old Dead Tree has never been easy to categorize. Some have called The Water Fields doom metal (although it doesn't have the Black Sabbath fixation that early doom metal was known for), but perhaps the most convenient way of describing the material is "atmospheric alternative metal with elements of death metal, black metal, gothic metal, metalcore, and screamo." Throughout the album, Munoz thrives on the clean vocals/extreme vocals contrast -- and his extreme vocals draw on death metal's growl and black metal's rasp as well as metalcore's screaming. But except for the extreme vocals, The Water Fields isn't all that extreme; in fact, it is quite melodic in a dark, moody, melancholy, brooding way. This is definitely a respectable outing from the Old Dead Tree -- and Munoz is getting better and better at juxtaposing the sweetly troubled emo boy and the harsh extreme metal hell raiser.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson