“We have overstayed our welcome. We have extended our hand of demise to our earthly mother, and we should all be ashamed.” – so reads the Facebook page of Pennsylvania based noise mongers, Dendritic Arbor. This is the kind of misanthropy that resonates deeply with me and even before hitting play, I knew I had found something special. All the built up hate and anger seems to have spilled over into the band’s music. The band’s debut full length, ‘Romantic Love’ on Grimoire Records and the upcoming follow up EP titled ‘Sentient Village / Obsolescent Garden’ are hands down some of the most extreme sounding records to come out this year.
The music of Dendritic Arbor demands absolute attention from the listener, without which a lot of the fine nuances are missed. The music makes the listener work hard to appreciate the ideas that went into the creation of these records. Fusing the most harsh elements of grindcore, back metal and noise, Dendritic Arbor do not care for your idea of well written music. The thing that I love most about these records is that they do not pander to the common human brain for appreciation. This is pure, vile hatred which is given a musical outlet.
But despite all the abrasiveness and mind boggling complexity, the music has a form and a structure, albeit a sick and demented one. Each spin of Dendritic Arbor’s record is an attempt on the listener’s part to gain a foothold and comprehend what is going on. The songs are written in a way to encourage repeat listens and the more you listen to it, the further it unravels and the more clarity it offers into the band’s ideas and thought process.
On the first few listens to ‘Romantic Love’, the first couple of tracks feel like waves of white noise and it is only during the third track, ‘Horizontal Key Vertical Gate’, that some semblance of musical structure is found and the music becomes slightly easier to comprehend. The noisy atmosphere, the short grind riffs and black metal tremolos run rampant as inhuman screams add a whole tonne of dark, disturbing images to the music. Once an insight is gained into how Dendritic Arbor operates, the tracks begin to unfold and the intricacies in the song writing become more apparent. The cathartic feeling offered by each track is worth taking the effort to understand the music. The ambient passages that are attached to the tracks are oddly unsettling and they create an aura of suspense.
Musically, Dendritic Arbor draws more from grindcore and they dress it up with black metal aesthetics to make a final products that is like a demented fusion of the two. ‘E-Waste’ and ‘Ceremony of Dust’ perhaps give the most visibility into the band’s mish-mash of styles. The short spastic riffs would not go amiss on a grindcore record. But when the dissonant leads and the dense noisy atmosphere are added, the entire paradigm of the music shits into a harsher and more blackened territory.
The follow up to ‘Romantic Love’, a four track self released EP titled ‘Sentient Village / Obsolescent Garden’ comes off as a more structured record. This may be due to the fact that the full length does a good job of acclimatizing the listener to Dendritic Arbor’s shock and awe. The tracks on the EP are much more spastic and eclectic compared to the tracks on the full length. This feels like more like a straight up brutal assault on the senses, while the full length had more psychologically disturbing characteristics.
‘Cotard Delusion’ and ‘Failed Manifestations’ get straight to the point with their blood curdling shrieks and in your face riffs. These two tracks feel like a whirlwind of riffs and blast beats, unleashing huge bursts of energy within their 3 minute run times. The dissonant, spacey notes still manage to make an appearance, but the unsettling ambient passages are replaced by a barrage of riffs that do not brake even for a second.
‘Keratoconus’ follows suit with what sounds like a near perfect grindcore song that has a noisy atmosphere. This is the type of music that will alienate your non metalhead friends if you’re caught listening to. The track transitions into a more atmospheric affair towards the latter half and it provides a much needed break from the immense chaos, before jumping right back into it. The way ‘Latex’ begins makes it sound like a industrial track and this is a characteristic that remains true for the entire length of the track.
Listening to Dendritic Arbor is an experience that consists of many different phases. The first few listens are sure to leave you confused and disoriented. But then again, this is the type of band that makes the listener work hard to enjoy the music. Instead of offering what the listener expects, the band deliver something so complex and weird, forcing the listener to shift his / her ideas in order to enjoy the music. Dendritic Arbor, as the name implies, branch out in weird, obscure territories, taking metal into new realms of complexity. It’s worth exploring these ideas and the journey might just change your perspective on music itself.