Well, what a welcoming sound that is to my ears. A rolling guitar riff filled with that aurally pleasing crunching distortion growling away deep at the heart of the song. This is the exact enigmatic fashion that the album “The Gathering” commences fantastically played by Dave Heumann’s Arbouretum. This, the groups 4th offering is as strong and fresh as any other it’s predecessors and showcase a band that is growing confidence, talent and are surely evolving into a tour de force that the music world will have to deal with very soon indeed.
Arbouretum declare their intentions, as aforementioned, with track one “The White Bird”. Clocking in at over 7 minutes long, it is a classic example of a band setting out their stall and making sure that they have garnered your attention.
This stranglehold tightens it’s stronghold on you in the second track “When Delivery Comes”. We are treated to further gritty rhythm which is greatly complimented. This song feels like it would be perfectly suited to accompany a gun battle in a modern adaptation of a Sergio Leone epic.
In the next track, “Destroying To Save”, Dave Heumann’s vocals are shoved into the spotlight as the voice is a predominant force in what drives the song. It must be said that one can make all sorts of comparisons of his style from Deep Purple’s Ian Gillian to one hit wonder maestro Arthur Brown. It is certainly a welcome sound to my ears, being musically trapped in that era as I am. I guess it is just nice to hear a rock voice with a whole lot of soul.
“The Highwayman” is delightfully in the vein of such acts as Counting Crows. That distinct, simple but deeply effective rhythm is effervescent here. Again, I feel myself impressed by the minimalistic approach. The beat kept by drummer, Brian Carey, is perfect; not too much, not too little.Corey Allender on bass does not deviate from complimenting the rhythm and Dave Huemann himself is doing a sterling job as front man.
“Waxing Crescent” changes the mood of the album completely. The ambience shifts to a eastern feel and could be compared to The Beatles in the mid 60s when they were majorly influenced by that artistic appeal. It is a perfect track to maintain interest in the band and keep up the air of mystery that Arbouretum have perpetuated since the opening bars of the album. This is undoubtedly one of my favourite songs from “The Gathering”.
We are brought back down to earth from the hedonistic heights of the previous track with a more familiar sound in the form of “The Empty Shell”. It almost feels like it is a prelude to a song by Black Sabbath as the band airs their experimental side. However, it eventually settles down into a catchy rock tune which, whilst effective, lacks the intrigue of some of the other tracks on the album.
So, “The Gathering” draws to a close with the final track “Song Of The Nile”. I am not left disappointed as the album grinds to a conclusion that is as dirty and gnarled as the album began. Again, note must be made of the pulsating driving force that Arbouretum provide that provide a perfect platform for Heumann to ply his craft. This song conjures up memories of those eponymous songs by The Doors, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin to name a few whose long instrumentals made every bit of sense as the verses and choruses.
At the end of the day I am left with two thoughts. One, what a fantastic start to 2011 and two, where can I catch these guys playing live?