Tre Watson

Gravestones

01. The Mortal Coil
02. Demise
03. Thread of Humanity
04. Dancing on Gravestones

[09/10/11]
[Self-released]

Despite the fact that we talk about Tre Watson‘s many doings on a regular basis, I’ve never actually committed myself to doing a review of his work outside of promotion (which is all honest, mind you) because I consider Tre to be a good friend and I don’t like to review the work of friends even when I thoroughly enjoy their work (the exception being Cyclamen, but I was a fan before I got a chance to know Hayato, so there’s a loophole in the system). At any rate, when I attempt to review the work of people I know on a more personal basis, I find it hard to remain unbiased in either criticisms or promotion. Tre Watson’s new EP Gravestones is different in that it’s too damn good to pass up on talking about past a one-hundred word post about how you should go download it ASAP. You totally should because it’s free, but there’s much more that could be said.

Gravestones is easily the most progressive and experimental Tre Watson output to date. Tre has made it no secret that he’s making an effort to step away from anything that could be considered djent—not that there’s anything wrong with djent, but there’s an air of homogeny to the sound that only a handful of bands really break away from. No, Gravestones is much more diverse, exploring a range of sounds including post-rock, metalcore, jazz, and prog. The inclusion of vocals really makes Gravestones stand out in comparison to his past solo work as well. Forget everything you thought about Tre before, because Gravestones changes things up in a big way.

Gravestones opens up with the happy bouncing tones of “The Mortal Coil,” which evokes the bright and shiny imagery of the album art. Imagine Scale the Summit painting their usual soundscapes, but with the inclusion of 8-bit synths adding extra playful textures to the whole affair. A bit of a departure for Tre, to be sure, but it only gets more extraordinary later on.

“Demise” is a more metalcore oriented-track which sees Tre sharing vocal duties with one Matt Renner. The vocal harmonies and melodies are expertly crafted and absolutely make this track. This is the most straightforward track on the album, but still somewhat progressive in its structure and songwriting. “Thread of Humanity” takes this progcore sound and runs with it further, sounding almost as if Born of Osiris had more pronounced progressive and symphonic leanings, complete with a haunting outro of solemn string and piano synths and vocal harmonies.

The real attraction to Gravestones lies in the final 18-minute prog epic “Dancing on Gravestones.” Opening up with a full orchestral movement, a series of experiments follows that is absolutely unreal. There are surprises around every corner, including some harmonic vocal work from The Omega Experiment‘s Dan Wieten over tech metal/jazz fusion trade-offs. Genre shifts and stylistic flourishes keep the track interesting and well worth its time limit. There’s brief stints of dubstep, insanely catchy DJ-esque record scratching, playful synth solos, and other things that you wouldn’t think would work in context with each other, but it all feels natural on this track. Needless to say, this is Tre’s “Swim to the Moon.”

Tre really stepped outside of the box on Gravestones, and his work is commendable. Unfortunately, Tre’s putting a hiatus on his solo project to focus on Carthage, Trollface, and his other many projects. Hopefully when he picks up the reigns again, he continues where Gravestones left off. He’s been coming into his own unique style, and it’s beginning to show and take form here.

Gravestones is out now and you can stream it below. Click through to Bandcamp to pay what you will and download!

Tre Watson – Gravestones gets…

4/5

– JR

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