July 19, 2012

Review: The Mercury Tree - Pterodactyls

Progressiverock is a genre intended to lend greater creative expression and more diversesounds to rock through non-traditional composition and unique instruments. The Mercury Tree is the epitome of a progressive rock band. Their latest album, Pterodactyls, shows off their eclectic sound by way of a very different messenger, dinosaurs.
The band was formed as a one-man project in 2004 in Portland, Oregon, by Ben Spees. But, like the prehistoric creatures this album is based off of, the band formed into what it is today through a series of changes and evolution. Today, the members, along with Spees on vocals, guitar and keyboard, include Alan Johnson on bass and Connor Reilly on drums.
“Hatchlings” prepares listeners for the album with a 7 minute experimental mantra that stays pretty steady throughout, building intensity at the end. “Cephalopod” brings with it a brooding, ominous sound. Ben Spees has a nice, smooth voice which is carried along amongst the amalgam of sounds. While the instrumental patterns shouldn’t fit compositionally, somehow they work and make the listening a unique, neat experience. The only track not representing the previous statement is, ironically, the title track. “Pterodactyls” has a certain menacing feel at times, which is cool in itself, but the conglomeration of sounds seem detached - in some way, off. Screeches from said dinosaur in the background add an interesting flair.
“Interstitial” provides a nice little intermission, if you will, with a heavy bass line and melodic guitar riffs. “Bassosaur” (the grooviest dino), exemplifies its namesake instrument nicely, and gives listeners a song filled with both intensity and a sense of urgency. “Octarine” is one of the mellower songs, taking listeners out on a serene vibe.
The Mercury Tree has done a great job on Pterodactyls. Prog rock lovers will get their fix, and music lovers delving into new territories will most likely add a new genre to their playlists with this album.
Stars: 4.5/5
Key Tracks: Hatchlings, Cephalopod, Bassosaur


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