Foxhole – We the Wintering Tree

Foxhole
We the Wintering Tree

Foxhole inhabit a realm long since mapped out. They create into a class of post-rock dominated by twinkly, prog-lite sections vigorously punctuated by pedal-stompin’, head-noddin’ doses of thunder introduced at just the right moments. It’s not too far removed at all from many of the big names in the genre nowadays, but the band’s got a few nifty additions to keep things interesting. In fact, a few elements absent and you’d be reading the introduction to a pretty condemning review right.

Two key characteristics set We the Wintering Tree – originally released in 2004 and now recently reissued by Burnt Toast Vinyl – as its own entity. First, the album was recorded in a one-room country church, and this decision grants the recordings a capacious, engrossing ambiance, the instruments (drums in particular) gaining from a truly colossal sound. Further, the involvement of a church lends at least a shred of affirmation to the lofty superlatives (“holy,” “ethereal,” transcendent,” etc) often bestowed upon bands such as Foxhole, so they’ve got that going for them, too.

The second savior of the album is a gorgeous, luminescent trumpet; a bit of a wildcard for a band structured so upon the guitar and its various faces, but, listening to the album several times, it’s difficult to imagine We the Wintering Tree without it. For instance, in “A Lion in Winter/Long Live the King,” there’s a moment where the composition is crashing about and, amidst the clamor of gallop and fuzz, the trumpet smoothly wafts on top, unfettered. The instrument isn’t nearly as present as any other, but its appearances infuse these compositions with a soul-splitting solemnity.

Emphasis on these two aspects of We the Wintering Tree isn’t meant to denigrate the capabilities of the other musicians or the entire group’s capacity for composition, though. Even if sometimes in want for originality, there’s never a lack for instrumental familiarity, and when tracks hit, they hit, with an aural phantasmagoria of mortality overcoming the soundscape. Powerful stuff, even despite a bit too much calmness-to-crescendo.