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The Mercury Tree - Countenance

The Mercury Tree
by Megan McMillan at 22 January 2015, 9:29 PM

THE MERCURY TREE are an experimental progressive rock band who hail from Portland, Oregon. Their third offering, “Countenanc”, is a roller coaster ride of intricate and hectic music in the same vein as TOOL.

Ben Spee’s vocals has the same gentle, calming vocals through out the majority of the album, so not to overpower the guitar and bass lines, particularly when the music gets heavy, however. Sometimes his vocals are underwhelming in the sense that it can often sound weak alongside the quieter sections. Occasionally his range changes and his voice became more powerful but this is a rare occurrence. The guitarists however, are dynamic and they're style can change from soft, slow moving sections to fast paced, complex riffs. This diversity makes the music interesting and keeps you wanting to listen to more. The bass is also ever present as it should be in Progressive rock.

“Countenance” is a 10 track album; definitely one to put aside for when you have time to listen too in full because this album is like one big piece of music rather than an artist recording individual tracks. There are no album fillers either, every song has it's place. The first track, “Pitchless Tone” is a mesmerising maze of noise. With scaly base lines, rapid chord progression and complex riffing. Fundamentally, this track serves as a definition of what's to come. “Vestigial” has a very strange and sketchy sound with everything all over the place, but because of the density that Prog rock is known for, it works and would be weird without it.

Amazingly, THE MERCURY TREE have managed to keep this kind of complexity throughout the album. Songs like “The Ellsburg Cycle” show what kind of musical masterminds the Portland four piece with awesome use of percussion and a killer bass pattern throughout. Whereas tracks like “Artifacture” have some really cool keyboard solos. The last track “Rappel” is a flawless mix of acoustic and electric guitar, with some great, funky grooves to go along with it.

Ultimately, “Countenance” is an album for fans of experimental Prog. THE MERCURY TREE have done well in producing music that is diverse and not repetitive. The sound is overall modern but the keyboard that's scattered throughout the album gives the music a 1970s feel. On top of the crafty  music their is awesome, clean production to make the listening experience that more enjoyable.

3 Star Rating

1. Pitch less tone
2. Vestigal
3. Otoliths
4. Mazz Jazzy
5. To serve man
6. The Ellsberg cycle
7. False meaning
8. Artifracture
9. Jazz hands of doom
10. Rappel
Ben Spees -Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Aron Clark - Fretless, Bass, Emeritus
Connor Reilly - Drums
Oliver Campus - Bass
Record Label: Independent


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