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DeadSoul Tribe - The January Tree  CD (album) cover


DeadSoul Tribe

Experimental/Post Metal

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4 stars Having been tepidly appreciative of Deadsoul Tribe's sophomore effort, A Murder of Crows, I decided to pick up their junior release, The January Tree a few days ago and that was a great move if I do say so myself.

For me Deadsoul Tribe's strength is that they remind me of Tool, one of my favorite bands. They have a dark morose sound and lyrics, a similar disjointed, syncopated style, a heavy stop and go drum and guitar beat with unusual melodies, somewhat de- emphasizing the vocals for the sake of the strong instrumentation. That's not to say that, as a singer, Graves doesn't have his moments. He has a pleasant mid to high pitched voice and a decent style that together, with echo chambers and dual tracks, happens to compliment the music.

For those familiar with Tool, you know that the music is all but impossible to describe except in generalities, as is Deadsoul Tribe. The first six tracks from "Spiders And Flies" to "Toy Rockets" have a feel strongly reminiscent of Maynard James Keenan, either Tool or A Perfect Circle, except track five "The Coldest Day of Winter". "Spiders And Flies" and "The Love of Hate" feature heavy bass drums and a crunchy guitar throughout. "Sirens" starts with a little jazzy guitar intro, then settles in but finishes with a slow ethereal ending, on "Why" we have more crunchy guitars and heavy drums but it slows down in the middle and Graves is accompanied by an acoustic guitar building to a cresendo.

"Wings of Faith", my personal favorite, has a snappy medium fast beat but is sung at half speed. It also features at least one or two female background singers, a nice touch. "Toy Rockets" is similar to most of the songs except it features a flute, another nice touch.

While I'm not yet quite ready to describe, The January Tree as 'sensational', after only a few listens, it is nonetheless, a very strong effort, warranting a five star rating.

If you have never heard of these guys or know little of them, I suspect that is about to change!

Report this review (#33337)
Posted Wednesday, December 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Brilliant is nothing less than what this album deserves. The "The January Tree" was my first DST album and probaly not my last. It took me a few listins to fully appreciate the album and then I was hooked. You can never listin to this masterpiece to many times. Devon Graves does a great job in the lyrics department and the whole album's sound is awe inspiring. From the great opener "Spiders And Flies" to "Lady of Rain" is a musical journey. Highlights of the album are "Why", "The Love of Hate", and "Lady of Rain". "Just Like a Time Piece" is the greatest song on the album by far. So if you havn't given up on new music already, give "The January Tree" a try.
Report this review (#33340)
Posted Wednesday, May 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars This album (I don't have the first two) does not apply to the 5 star option "Essential: a masterpiece of progressive music" due to it's not all too original. I hear little hints of Psychotic Waltz, and Tool in it. If you want repetition through "Progressive Metal" (Not that Dead Soul Tribe is progressive really) then you will enjoy this group. I wouldn't call it an "Excellent addition to any prog music collection" (4 stars) either. There are numerous flaws. A reason why I don't listen to mainstream teeny-bopper music, punk rock, and nu- metal-ish musicians is mainly because they all blur together until you realize each of those groups just have one track. The chords on guitar are not different enough and the drummer is not able enough to make something unique in itself. Imagine what Dead Soul Tribe would sound like if you just listened to bass guitar for each song. Imagine what Dead Soul Tribe would sound like if you just listened to the guitar. How entertaining would it be? If musicians can't stand up and play something skillful by themselves, how do they come together and make something worthwhile? I make this album sound like a piece of trash, and really on a PROGRESSIVE site it is, but due to the plague of 'progressive metal' groups that aren't prog (Tool, Anathema, Etc.) it appears people here do enjoy the modern metal scene. And it does exclude prog. If you like Psychotic Waltz and Tool get this album. You will enjoy it.

2 Stars, not necessarily awful, but 2 star to display "Collectors/fans only"

Report this review (#37739)
Posted Sunday, June 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Since listening to, and loving "A Murder of Crows" (the first DST album I had heard, after my dad's recommendation, as he saw them live as Threshold's support act.), I've become a big fan of Dead Soul Tribe and Devon Graves in general. This was the third album I heard ("The Dead Word" being the second), and I loved it instantly.

Being a bassguitar player by nature, I dig basslines, and Spiders and Flies has plenty of that. The guitar riffs are catchy, only to go over into a haunting "Spiiiiders and fliiiieeeees" melody, followed by a bombastic rhyme. The acoustic piece in the middle is a lovely change of pace, after which it reverts back to the chorus, ending the song with the bassline again. (Yay!)

Sirens took me a while to get used to. The guitars at the beginning weren't really my thing at first, but the rest of the song's rhythm is very catchy. I love how at some points the guitars give a bit of room for the bass and drums, and then catch up again. Somewhere in the middle there's a piece that appeals to me somewhat less. It seems to drag on and repeat a few times to much, but that's just my opinion. The song ends a haunting way, giong over in the riff of The Love of Hate...

Now this song builds up the power, then drops it, then builds up again, and so forth. I'm not too fond of the chorus, but the other vocals are lovely to listen to. Overall the song changes little, and it actually bores me at some points, but when in a decent mood I can listen to it pretty well.

"Why?" has a lovely crystalline guitar melody, with a beautiful heavy bassline waltzin' over it. The vocals sound clear once again, and my favorite parts of the song would be the guitars joining in during these, if only for a second or two. It just gives the song a special something. Devon goes into another serene vocal like he did in Spiders and Flies, after which a beautiful guitar solo is heard on a solid backing riff, followed by some heavy jamming. The song ends rather serene, but it works well.

The Coldest Days of Winter is the next track, and I admit I don't listen to it a lot. In fact, I hardly know how it goes. It gave me a slightly depressed/sad feeling, and I stopped listening to it. Having sampled it again just now, I doubt this will be one of my favorites. But in the style of the album, this one isn't bad to recover from "Why?"'s rocking.

Wings of Faith features heavy bass, tribal drums and a catchy guitar, all sounding very hardrocky. The choir is a very nice touch, as is the vocoder used by Devon, even though I prefer his clean voice. The guitars change pace into semi-solos at times, but overall the song changes little. My favorite part would have to be the one that goes "We seem to be having some technical difficulties...uh, apologies.", a funny bit of pause. I've heard worse than this one. ;) A bit repitetive, maybe, but perfect if you just want to rock without thinking for a while.

Toy Rockets starts with flute! Yes, I was wondering where they went. It adds a nice touch to the album, though I must say I'm not all that charmed with the vocals in this one, apart from the chorus. Something sounds a bit off to me...maybe Devon's trying a bit too hard? I don't know. Not a bad song overall, though, with plenty of nice changes, with a power buildup near the end. "LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LO~~~~VE, *LOVE*!!!". It sounds a bit sarcastic, maybe, but I like it.

Waiting for the Answer is the next song, and it's a dark one for the Dead Souled ones. This one I both like and dislike. It sounds like someone could listen to with just his head bobbing while on drugs (which I dislike), but in terms of musical skill, this is a nice Dead Soul Tribe song, though not one I would use to introduce someone to DST.

Just Like a Timepiece is the next song, featuring a beautiful flute and piano. This is a more laidback and mellow song, which is a nice change from the previous three tunes. And even though it's softer, it retains that Dead Soul Tribe aura, and remains in the veins of the January Tree.

The album ends with Lady of Rain, another soft mellow piece with piano. Personally I would've liked another rocking song better, so I usually skip this one. Devon himself stated he wasn't too happy with this one either, and I can see why. (Funny fact is he and I also agree on the favorite songs)

Well, this is a fine piece of progmetal. Lacking the keyboards that most bands have, but having very powerful basslines, unique drumming, and heavy and melodic guitars. Devon's flute is definately a nice addition. For me, it's number two on my favorite DST album list, "A Murder of Crows" being first. I haven't heard any of Tool yet, so I can't really make that comparison, but I'll just say...treat Dead Soul Tribe as Dead Soul Tribe, rather than a Tool rip-off. It deserves at least that.

Yours, Tailscent

Report this review (#85582)
Posted Thursday, August 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars Devon Graves formally known as Buddy Lachey from PSYCHOTIC WALTZ is such an incredible talent, lyrics are very important to him and he actually wrote the lyrics to this album first, then created the music to go with them.

This record reminded me a little of the "Mosquito" record from PSYCHOTIC WALTZ, I really like the heavy bass and guitars especially on the first song "Spiders And Flies", this is heavy duty ! "Sirens" doesn't disappoint either and has a catchy chorus.

"Why" features some great riffs and a nice solo as well. More beautiful guitar and bass on "Wings Of Faith" another favourite. We finally have some flute on "Toy Rockets". "Waiting For The Answer" features a dark and heavy undercurrent, and is slower paced. "Just Like A Timepiece" is an old Buddy Lachey song that Devon reworked, it features piano and flute and is the longest song on the record.

This is a powerful record that I highly recommend.

Report this review (#95554)
Posted Monday, October 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Thick and powerful intellectual metal.

This is Deadsoul Tribe's release The January Tree. The songs flow well together, and it is best if you listen to the album in their entirety. The lyrics are imagery-laden, and interesting.

Devon Greaves is a wonderful vocalist. He gives me goosebumps each time I hear his full voice, and the songs themselves are multi-faceted and intriguing. They have split sections, and solid writing.

The compositions get a little lackluster at times, and are somewhat repetitive throughout, but it adds to the atmosphere overall. At times, this sounds like Alice in Chains, in the dark delivery, mixed with lyrical and artistic beauty the likes of Jethro Tull. Jackhammer riffs interspersed throughout with soft breaks for diversity.

The ability Devon has to switch from Ear shattering wails and warm, soft, and calm singing is exceptional. This album in general reminds me of Jerry Cantrell's Degradation Trip album, which is a good thing. The tribal drumming and guitar interwoven so well.

The songs tend to drag a bit at times, and the album gets repetitive near the middle and end, but this is a very solid progressive metal album. Highlights for me are the lyrically entrancing and hammering opener Spiders and Flies, the almost thrashing Wings of Faith, The flute utilizing Toy Rockets, and the Beautiful Just Like A Timepiece. Nothing here is filler, and it all works so well together.

Again, the album is repetitive with its riffing, and the overall theme isn't very diverse, but the solid writing, powerful vocals, and skillful execution make this an excellent addition. Four Stars.

Report this review (#212465)
Posted Saturday, April 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Third album for Deadsoul Tribe in an equal amount of years. There are few bands with such continuously flowing output. It's a good thing for the fans but slightly frustrating for critical nitpickers like myself. Deadsoul Tribe revolves around the powerful voice of Devon Graves but lacks the creativity and musicality to keep such a huge output interesting.

The album starts interesting enough with Spiders and Flies, heavily in dept to Tool but with far more accomplished vocals, both in expression and in melodic feel. The opening bars of Sirens even bring Psychotic Waltz back, but after 30 seconds, we're back to unremarkable and slowly plodding Sabbath/Tool riffs, the vocal melody saves the song though. With the next couple of songs, The Love of Hate and Why?, the mid-paced monotony of the material creates a weary mood and the lack of character makes the songs dwindle in anonymity. The Coldest Days of Winter is a charming little song, Wings of Faith tries to add an industrial angle but remains flat and dull. Toy Rockets and Waiting for the Answer are two more mediocre and faceless songs. Just Like a Timepiece is a rather ordinary ballad that brings Devon's Jethro Tull influences to the fore. Lady of the Rain ends the album with more balladry

Deadsoul Tribe is basically a one man project and not a real band, Devon Graves is an excellent vocalist but I'm not much impressed with his rudimentary guitar playing and song writing. He is only accompanied by Adel Moustafa, a deserving drummer but he approaches all songs too much in the same way. With hardly 15 minutes of great material and 35 dreary mediocrity 2 stars seem more appropriate then 3 but I'll round up for the nice artwork.

Report this review (#258755)
Posted Friday, January 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars My interest for Deadsoul Trime arised from the fact, that I know Deon Graves as Buddy Lackey from my favourite progressive metal band Psychotic Waltz. Another fact is that this is still my only Deadsoul Tribe recording, so you can guess, that I am much less impressed by DST than by the quintett from San Diego. However, this album is far from being bad. Devon created some sort of "Jethro Tool", but unfurtunately for me there is more focus on Tool, than Jethro. Devon is still a very good singer and lyricist, and we certainly must give credit for him for playing all instruments on this album, except the drums. Basically, the magical guitar playing of Dan and Brian from Waltz what I miss the most. Devon is competent on the guitar, but his riffs are rather monothonic, and he is just rather unremarkable as a guitar player especially compared to his psychotic ex-collegaues. The music on The January Tree is pleasantly heavy, and melodic but none of the songs is truly outstanding. The better ones for me are Spiders and Flies and Just like a timepiece. The beutiful artwork deserves a special mention. The January Tree is a mostly enjoyable, even if not very rewarding album. I think a 3 star rating is well deserved.
Report this review (#269672)
Posted Friday, March 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "The January Tree" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Austrian/US progressive metal act Deadsoul Tribe. The album was released through InsideOut Music in August 2004. While the bandīs preceding album release "A Murder of Crows (2003)" was recorded by a full lineup, band leader Devon Graves opted to record "The January Tree" almost entirely by himself. He plays and sings everything except for the drums on the album, which are recorded by Adel Moustafa. So the two other members of the band are reduced to touring members. A concept Graves would also use on the next two Deadsoul Tribe albums.

The music on the album continues the predominantly vers/chorus structured progressive metal style of itīs two predecessors and doesnīt add much new to the bandīs discography in the way of innovation. Itīs an album were it very much feels like Deadsoul Tribe had found a music style they were comfortable with and therefore didnīt feel the need to develop upon. As a result "The January Tree" is a solid release but itīs also a very "safe" release.

Musically weīre treated to heavy distorted riffs, some acoustic sections, lead harmony melodies, rhythmic drumming, and Devon Graves distinct sounding vocals on top. The material is relatively well written, but few tracks stand out. Iīd mention "The Coldest Days of Winter" and "Wings of Faith" as some of the highlights, but overall itīs more a solid release than an outstanding one.

The slightly flat impression I get when listening to "The January Tree" also has a lot to do with the way the album is produced. Considering how often Devon Graves (who acts as producer on this album) has spoken of his love for organic sounding artists like Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, and Jethro Tull, itīs odd how artificial this production sounds. The drums are clicky and flat sounding, and the rest of the instruments and the vocals has a digital tone to them, which isnīt very suiting.

So upon conclusion "The January Tree" is an album which leaves me a bit biased, because objectively itīs a solid release featuring a professional sound production, decent songwriting, and strong musicianship, but itīs like the sum of the parts, just donīt add up to an album thatīs extraordinary. Less will do though, and "The January Tree" is overall a decent release by Deadsoul Tribe and a 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is still warranted.

Report this review (#1839961)
Posted Saturday, December 9, 2017 | Review Permalink

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