Artist: Ame Noire
Album: The Tree that Bears Rotten Fruit – EP
From the poetic yearnings of Shakespeare and even long before, the womb has been likened to a fruit—sweet, yes, but more importantly, a fleshy body which houses a seed. From it’s core surges forth life and renewal, kept safe within its fiber-and-glucose collagen chemical structure and waxy, shiny coat.
Fruit can be romantic, poetic, nutritious, beautiful and so much more—but only while it lives. Once it dies, it dies—wilting and rotting, losing drive and the ability to protect its seed. It houses disease, detriment, strife and decay. That which was a blessing becomes something bleak—as bleak as the breakout EP by Australian blackened, brutal death metal outfit, Ame Noire. The Tree that Bears Rotten Fruit is a relentless EP that is as atmospheric as it is heavy, constantly oppressing the listener beneath slams, eerie dissonance or both, stopping at nothing to cave the listener’s skull in as if it were made of Styrofoam. However, where Ame Noire are successful in melting blackened death metal, brutal death metal, deathcore and doom metal alike, they do so in a way not entirely without it’s consequences—as while The Tree that Bears Rotten Fruit is a luscious release at heart, it isn’t without it’s own rotten components.
Ame Noire are, if nothing else, a unique band—using everything from symphony to slamming aggression to bring a comprehensively heavy experience to the listener’s ears. From the first cut of the EP, through “Immurement” and the closing title track, the band are balanced in their approach to brutal music. “What Lurks Below” steeps the listener head-first into mach-speed kick drums and sharp, snappy snare claps that are loud enough to wake the dead—all a brilliant contrast to the murky, solemn fretwork that ranges from riff-driven, sharply metallic influence to chug-centric breakdowns and slams that bring out the –core in the band’s laundry list of influences. “Slave to the Grave” is another such number, focusing more heavily on the metallic side than any other, laden with riffs and quick grooves that show off the band’s speed and technical interplay. Meanwhile, “Immurement” and on bring more heaviness to the table, loaded with slams that stand to shatter the listener’s spine and spotted with breakdowns that serve as climactic moments to the monumentous instrumental tension that builds within each track. With all that said, it’s hard to make it through the sprawling release without feeling oppressed—in both a good, “that’s crazy heavy!” way, and the “man, I don’t know how much longer this can hold my focus” way. The Tree That Bears Rotten Fruit is a complex and intriguing EP at its surface, but past the opening cuts and some stand out moments of the tracks that follow, many of the songs seem to drag on and on if the listener’s focus is 100% honed on the music and nothing else. The plus side? The tedious length and somewhat repetitive nature of “Slave to the Grave” or “The Wayward Home” can be easily overlooked if the listener’s getting a lift in, driving home from a grueling work day, or shredding the undead on their favorite post-apocalyptic video game. None of this is designed to detract from the fact that, above all, Ame Noire are certainly unique, and the Noire in their name is certainly well deserved with the cornucopia of gloomy, brooding darkness that remains abundant throughout the record.
This continues into the vocal element that defines The Tree That Bears Rotten Fruit. Every syllable spat hits like a shotgun shell—with predominantly low bellows that soar into shrieking high screams that split the listener’s ears—the band’s sense of intensity remains totally in tact. “Immurement” is a sturdy and beefy display of vocal prowess, just as “Slave to the Grave” highlights a focus on catchier vocal writing, using an (already established) metallic hook to appeal to the more traditional fan base, while still cutting away with scathing leads and pummeling the listener with brutalizing breakdowns to keep fists swinging and feet kicking until the song sees its end. Every track Ame Noire let loose shows off vocal range and talent aplenty, although not in a way that isn’t manifest by many other contemporary up-and-coming heavy bands—in fact, were it not for the band’s ability to blend vocals into the dismal atmosphere and bleak ethereality they craft instrumentally, there would be very little to set them apart from the next young brutal act with an obscenely technically talented set of pipes.
The Tree That Bears Rotten Fruit is a solid record. It doesn’t change the way the listener will experience heavy music, and—while unique—it doesn’t really manage to keep the listener hooked enough to come back for more, much in part to how much of a chore it can feel to sludge through some of the more monotonous sections of the release. With that said, there’s no denying the collective talents of Ame Noire’s musicianship and vocal work, as every member of the band clearly excel at what they do, even if the creation of more cohesive, fluid and engaging song structures remains to be a task tackled in their next release.
By: Connor Welsh