Arbouretum - Coming Out of the Fog (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
LOVERS of mood rock, lengthy guitar solos and intelligent lyricism had best start to queue now to hear Arbouretum’s Coming Out of The Fog – it has a lot to be impressed by.
Having reigned in some of their maximalist tendencies to ensure that every song comes in under seven minutes, this finds Dave Heumann’s vocals soaring atop his guitar solos and Corey Allender’s crunchy bass lines providing often thrilling accompaniment.
There are fuzzed-out burners, heavier songs and the odd languid ballad to further enhance the group’s unique doom laden folk-rock sound, as well as sequences to evoke memories of Pearl Jam.
Kicking off with the slow-building The Long Night, the record puts its themes and Arbouretum’s trademarks into play early on with the tale of a protagonist faced with a metaphysical blackness, a dark night of the soul. The chorus is particularly striking, while the guitar work is utterly riveting.
Album highlight The Promise is another thriller… beginning with a flurry of fuzzy guitar riffs before then building tension amid syncopated rhythms and a climax of synth swells and chromatic guitar lines. It’s also another track that does remind me of Pearl Jam at times – but that only adds to the appeal, especially given the similarities between Heumann’s and Eddie Vedder’s vocals.
The ballad moment comes in the form of the serene Oceans Don’t Sing, where the guitars change emphasis to quiet strums and benefit from the addition of some piano chords. Heumann, meanwhile, comes over all fragile and melancholy… the reflective lyrics great for just kicking back to and reminiscing about your own shortline memories.
Further evidence of their lyrical ambition and intelligence is found on Renouncer, which was inspired by Colin Dickey’s book The Afterlives of the Saints, and which references the story of Saint Simeon, who traveled into the Syrian Desert and lived perched on a column for 36 years, living a life of death in an attempt to become closer to God.
World Split Open has some truly devastating guitar moments, with reverb turned up, Easter Island is a violent [and instrumental] fusion of percussion and guitars (which thrills the more you hear it) and Coming Out Of The Fog rounds things off with a brooding, bittersweet mid tempo offering that is a lovely comedown from some of the more volatile moments.
All told, it’s an epic listen: a layered, compelling and utterly addictive experience that should further enhance this Baltimore band’s burgeoning reputation.
Download picks: The Promise, Oceans Don’t Sing, World Split Open, Easter Island