Artist: Belle Manoir
Album: Century Tree EP
Genre: Post-hardcore, screamo
The Houston, TX sextet’s debut release Century Tree EP is a familiar cacophonic blend of bright buzzing guitars, alternated screamed and sung vocals, electronic flourishes scattered throughout as well as the “clatter-boom” of drums.
However, all of this sonic ear candy not only has a taste that is all too familiar of the archetypal “post-hardcore band” but also the majority of the tracks have a similar taste to them. This “sonic sameness” causes the tracks to bleed together with little to no variation among the EP’s eight tracks.
The driving force behind the album’s eight tracks is the band’s vocalist Tanner Allen. In his delivery and the way he performs the tracks’ more melodic parts Allen takes heavy cues from the vocal style of Circa Survive’s Anthony Green.
The album’s first seven tracks follow a predictable pattern of buzzing chords over which bright melodies and crashing drums are layered over all accompanied by Allen’s alternating sung and screamed vocals. The tracks stay at about the same volume and any attempt at dynamics come off as loud and louder.
However, in a surprising complete shift in both sound and style the closing track “Paper and Lead” is stripped down with only an acoustic guitar to accompany Allen’s vocals. The track displays a depth of skill that the previous seven tracks did not even hint at.
Granted this could be because the previous tracks followed the same instrumental and vocal template. But, for whatever reason, this is the first time during the album that it feels like the band is performing a song that they can label as their own. The album as a whole would have greatly benefited from interweaving more variation throughout their album instead of saving their one unique track for the very end.
What Century Tree EP is able to express more than anything else is that Belle Manoir has done their homework on the bands that have come before. Despite the EP having a similar taste throughout the final track as well as the skill displayed on the rest of the album displays great promise towards future releases.
Review written by: Ethan Merrick