The Romance of Helen Trent (album)
|The Romance of Helen Trent|
|Studio album by The Killing Tree|
|Released||June 22, 2002 / June 25, 2002|
|Recorded||December 2001 - January 2002 at Atlas Studios, Chicago, IL|
|Label||One Day Savior Recordings|
|The Killing Tree chronology|
The Romance of Helen Trent is the only studio album from the metalcore band The Killing Tree. It was first released on One Day Savior records on June 22, 2002. Recorded by Matt Allison at Atlas Studios, Chicago, Illinois. Since a contract was not signed between the record company and the band, it is unknown who legally possesses the copyrights of The Romance of Helen Trent; which is the main reason behind the album's lack of a reissue.
Multiple songs on the album feature intros consisting of a woman speaking about recent things she has been through. The samples are from an audio diary found in a garbage bag of a girl known only as "Helena Marie". McIlrath has said of the tapes "None of us expected the messages in Helena Marie's audio diary to parallel the The Killing Tree message so closely. And when it did, we knew it was just meant to be. It still gives me chills sometimes."
A limited edition version of the album was planned to be sold at the Fireside Bowl, Chicago, at the album release show on June 22, 2002. But due to problems during the pressing of the album, The Killing Tree had to 'pool their resources' in order to make 100 copies available at the show. These 100 limited copies were sold out at the release show. The 200 delayed copies soon arrived, and featured the same album artwork, but a slightly different insert and disk design as the previous limited edition CD, but was mastered by Alan Douches. These copies were sold at live shows exclusively. The standard edition album was released on 25 June 2002.
Aversionline.com gave the album 6 out of 10 stars:
"Here's some fairly diverse metalcore with both some of the melodic Swedish death metal thing and the chaotic/technical angle happening, as well as some more straightforward metalcore with a blend of chugging hardcore rhythms and a little bit of melody. The vocals are straight screams with the occasional sort of "singing shout" style, which sounds pretty cool here, because it's literally a "singing shout"... if that makes any sense at all? This is definitely better than average, because the transitions are fluid and the songs, while long, tend to carry themselves well. Take for instance the lengthy instrumental, "Soundtrack to a Failing Relationship", starting very calmly with lush clean guitars under heavy delay and eventually leading in to forceful distorted chord progressions with a plodding rhythm section and sparse lead lines. The recording isn't half bad. It's a little bit on the abrasive side, but barely, because the bass tone is thick as hell and the percussion sounds totally natural (two thumbs up there). There's a nice amount of clarity, but I think I'd drop the vocals back a smidge and maybe add some crunch to the guitars, but not too much... just a little. The layout is very consistent all around. Everything is done in shades of brownish green and cream, with some high contrast graphics over subtle cardboard looking textures. Inside the lyrics are arranged at haphazard angles over those same cardboard textures against jagged black space. I'm not into the lyrical content, though. They're pretty generic and a lot of the topics and lines use trendy metaphors and thematic issues such as the following: "I never noticed the color of your eyes until I saw them in the reflection of this knife, Green with envy for a life you never had, Bloodshot contempt when I extend my hand..." What it is with these bands always talking about knives and shit in reference to girls who've likely "wronged" them? Despite their strengths, I do think the tracks are too long (most over five minutes, some right at seven), but mainly because the CD runs 52 minutes, and that's just too much to take in one sitting... and I think I'd rather hear nine slightly shorter songs than seven or eight long songs. This band is definitely on the right track, because they're not totally generic (while not totally original) and they're competent writers, so with a bit more honing of their skills they could far outshine the competition. (6/10)"
Allmusic gave the album 4.5 stars out of 5:
"The Killing Tree are truly a marvelous formation of epic proportions, as while the members all hail from lesser-known hardcore acts such as Rise Against, Synnecrosis, Baxter, and Arma Angelus, they have somehow joined to create one of 2002's most stimulating hardcore releases. The Romance of Helen Trent is a volatile blend of melody, technical prowess, and blistering heavy metal crunch that somehow results in an outstanding yet original piece of art that excels at pelting the listener with unbridled emotion. "Prelude to Pain" lays its foundation in firm heavy metal song structures, yet squeezes in hardcore-like anthemic choruses and staggering breakdowns. The true beauty of The Romance of Helen Trent is that each and every song is given ample time to develop, while its lyrical stability propels it past the normal boundaries one expects from such a group. While many hardcore bands slip in an instrumental to serve as a relaxing moment in between cathartic odes to relationships and the scene, The Killing Tree put as much time and dedication to their instrumental "Soundtrack to a Failing Relationship," allowing the song to build through four-plus minutes of bliss. At times The Killing Tree recall At the Drive-In's fabulous avant-garde post-hardcore rock, yet manage to effectively place their trademark sound here and avoid becoming just another impersonation. It may come as a surprise, but these men somehow manage to allow each individual instrument to be recognizable and equally prominent, unusual for a hardcore scene which relies more on the noise made then the skill involved. Simply put, The Killing Tree have released an amazing album that never once loses its focus, and for those who enjoy the styles presented here, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better way to spend an hour."
|1.||"Prelude to Pain"||5:59|
|2.||"Them's Fightin' Words"||4:46|
|4.||"Replace My Heart"||6:58|
|5.||"Soundtrack to a Failing Relationship" (Instrumental)||4:51|
|6.||"Violets Are Blue"||6:18|
|8.||"Counting to Infinity"||5:06|
|9.||"Cacophony (The Death of Affection)"||6:58|
- James Kaspar - lead vocals, rhythm guitar
- Todd Rundgren - lead guitar
- Jean-Luc Rue - bass, backing vocals
- Botchy Vasquez - drums
- Allmusic review
- "Internet Archive Wayback Machine". Web.archive.org. 2002-11-29. Archived from the original on November 29, 2002. Retrieved 2012-03-07.
- "Tim McIIrath". Kevin Corazza. Retrieved 2012-03-07.