Band: THE KILLING TREEGenres: Punk / Rock / Hardcore / Metallic Hardcore / Metal
Related artists: Rise Against, Holy Roman Empire, Baxter, Colossal, The Falcon, The Lawrence Arms, Noise By Numbers, Smoking Popes, The Killer, Sweet Cobra, Synnecrosis, Arma Angelus and The Honor System.
Country: Chicago, Illinois USA
Years Active: 2000-2004
Song: "Violets are Blue"
Album: "The Romance of Helen Trent"
Label(s): Government Music / One Day Savior Recordings / Eyeball Records
This post's artist is from the January 2014 Mix. This is track #8.
You can download: the February Mix#12 right here or get the new March 2015 Mix#1 here.
For fans of: Norma Jean, Boy Sets Fire, Rise Against, Thursday and Protest The Hero.
I remember being in high school and hearing that 88 Fingers Louie was starting a new band. That band? Rise Against. I was big into the first Rise Against album 'The Unraveling' - really fucking hard. After that I strayed from the skate-punk/melodic hardcore sector and eventually came across the vocalist from Rise Against's previous band, THE KILLING TREE.
When Rise Against started out there was a pretty healthy dose of screaming and singing, with future releases sounding softer and more radio-friendly as I continued to hear singles from the band. THE KILLING TREE has unbalanced vocals as well, but luckily for most readers of this site the majority fall into the metallic hardcore/screaming side. His clean delivery shines through on rare occasions, but this is a metal band with slight punk/hardcore leanings instead of the other way around.
I was all over Napster trying to piece together the releases by the band until I finally picked up the cd for 'The Romancing of Helen Trent' in early 2002. It really is a good album, even after a decade. "Prelude to Pain" starts with some spoken word/movie clip audio with Helen Trent speaking about boys and relationships. Following this, the band wastes no time jumping into thick, breakdown laden metallic hardcore the entire thing laced with venomous screaming, "Eight dollar haircut? Fuck you!" and some well-timed dual vocals. "Them's Fightin' Words" has an almost equal weight of screaming and singing and sounds more akin to Rise Against than most of their songs. I showed this album to some friends at work who love Rise Against and they were flabbergasted that this was Tim McIlgrath and they couldn't get into it because it was too "hard". Boo hoo, losers. "Switchblade Architect" is another good song with a very catchy but heavy back and forth screaming jaunt at the end of the track. "Violets are Blue" was always the standout track for me because of the transition that begins at 1:15 with a robot riff and climbing drums/bass that jump in for a note or two in order to create the build until shit hits the fan just before the 2-minute mark. This build is used again and I'm totally cool with that because it's like a more metal version of Boy Sets Fire's "After the Eulogy" or a less metal version of older Norma Jean. "Counting to Infinity" is my final choice cut from this debut/final LP which boasts Tim's patented and very distinguishable melodic croon during the chorus, but otherwise this is another very heavy song that begins with the most straight ahead hardcore riff on the album.
The 2000 demo, from my recollection, was just 4 songs that appeared on the full length and didn't sound as good. Moving on...
2003's 'We Sing Sin' snuck in just before I rolled into my screamo phase and nearly abandoned this genre. It's five songs are more precise and shorter than their 2002 LP with increased production value that were released on Geoff Rickley's label Eyeball Records. The first thing you should notice is the killer cover of Soundgarden's "Jesus Christ Pose" which is done in a very respectful and deliberate manner that is always fun to sing along to and ranks up there with Between The Buried And Me's cover of Soundgarden's "The Day I Tried to Live". The hard-hitting songs written by THE KILLING TREE on the remainder of this EP are the opener "Mascara (original sin)" that displays Tim's new-found love of singing, "Everything You Had is Gone (fall from grace)" has fantastic guitar palm mutes from the onset that remind me of Choke, Hopesfall's 'The Satellite Years'-era material and older (think first EP) Protest The Hero. There's another amazing section that starts at 3:37 and chugs its way back to the chorus. The last song I dig is "We Have Awakened (vengeance)" which isn't all that different from the rest, now that I listen to it again.
So there you have it. Timmy did some pretty decent stuff back in the day.
2000 - Bury Me at Make-Out Creek cdEP
2002 - The Romance of Helen Trent cdLP (download here)
2003 - We Sing Sin cdEP (download here)
(2003) THE KILLING TREE - "Everything You Had is Gone (fall from grace)" (from 'We Sing Sin')
(2003) THE KILLING TREE - "Jesus Christ Pose (man's advantage)" (from 'We Sing Sin')
(2002) THE KILLING TREE - "Violets are Blue" (from 'The Romance of Helen Trent')
(2002) THE KILLING TREE - "Prelude to Pain" (from 'The Romance of Helen Trent')
THE KILLING TREE additional links
2002 LP + 2003 EP