DEAD TREES by Men An Tol (2013)
Review by Wayne Simmons
Christchurch, New Zealand, wouldn’t strike you as a hotspot for black metal, would it? Yet that’s exactly where new kids on the block, MEN AN TOL, hail from. Even the name’s a curiosity; Mên-an-Tol being a small formation of standing stones in Cornwall. So we’re in Sunny New Zealand and dabbling in hippy-dippy, English paganism...
What’s going on? you ask. This some kind of post-black, shoegazing BS?
Not so. MEN AN TOL’s debut album, DEAD TREES, is black as your boot. And we’re talking old-school black as your boot, too. It’s trebly distortion, demonic vocals and low-fi recording all the way. DEAD TREES is a black metal album, let’s make no bones about it.
There’s some wonderful song writing going on, too. Main man Josh M is strong throughout; his guitar a wall of noise but in a hook-laden way; his vocals shrill and definitively black yet strong and versatile enough to inject melody and diversity. Dominic M and Greg T keep up in the rhythm section, too, not shy of the odd blast beat, but capable of much more when the ever-changing tempo demands it. It’s all impressive stuff.
In a time when the very term black metal can mean just about anything, it’s great to find a band that can bring something new to the table while still retaining a solid footing within the traditional, black metal sound.
MEN AN TOL is that band.
1. Ancient Spire
2. Enchanting Death
3. Gathering of the Clouds
4. Dead Trees
5. Hatred of the Undying Sun
6. Winters Reign
7. Empty Thoughts
8. Herne the Hunter (cover)
DEAD TREES is available to download for free from the band’s bandcamp page.
Find MEN AN TOL on Facebook.