Treedeon – New World Hoarder


Berlin-based sludge trio, Treedeon, are unique for having a famous actress and television presenter in their ranks. Yvonne Ducksworth (bass/vocals) is a legend of the Kreuzberg music scene as a former bassist in the crossover-punk band Jingo de Lunch, who released five albums between 1987 and 1994, two of them on a major label. But most people in Germany know Ducksworth for her lead role in the 1993 cult classic film, Trouble, where she plays a punk-rock musician struggling to maintain a flat share in the post-Berlin Wall era of advanced capitalism. She keeps a low profile in Treedeon, and many Jingo de Lunch fans may not realise that New World Hoarder is the third album in the band’s catalogue. Pop music this is not.

Ducksworth’s opening bass notes rumble like Krakatoa in opener, ‘Nutcrème Superspreader’, but the star here is Arne Heesch (guitars/vocals), who wrestles with whistling feedback noises through his amps as if holding back a flood of water with a cardboard box. It’s a credible attempt to present the paradox of a harsh melody to match the lung-bleeding desperation of his roaring voice, like Toby Driver of Kayo Dot. You might stroke your chin and wonder why the band start the album with a sludge metal song in search of a regular snare beat that never arrives. That’s because Treedeon draw from the classic noise rock bands of the late 1980s as much as the Melvins back catalogue.

Follow-up, ‘Omega Time Bomb’, goes deep into the swamp of Conan for its sonic meditation, seldom straying from its 60bpm dirge of simple beats and fuzzy guitar chords. Heesch showcases a surprise blues husk in his register, like Pepper Keenan of Corrosion of Conformity but with a higher range. This is ugly music. Listen to the way the vocals agonise over the grubby guitar distortion and thudding bass in a collective foreboding. The heavy palm-muted riffing towards the end makes the ten minutes worthwhile, just as Ducksworth’s first foray into the vocal booth on the title track adds a new dimension of pensive reflection to the audio siege. Here, Andy Schünemann lays down the classic John Bonham beat from ‘When the Levee Breaks’ and watches his bandmates defile it with a wave of Electric Wizard doom motifs. Ducksworth approaches the microphone with a Geddy Lee-meets-Chris Cornell synergy of high-pitched muscle, adding sporadic moments of grace to a filthy onslaught of distortion.

Side A makes for a fascinating listen on New World Hoarder, but Side B falls just short of the creative pulse running through the first three songs. The culprit here is ‘RhV1’, which mixes morbid doom fuzz with a stoner metal lethargy unsuited to the righteous anger of the lyrics. It sounds too much like a grunge band from the 1990s trying to escape a major label contract, in the hope that a deliberate lack of effort will release them from their tutelage. ‘Viking Meditation Song’ is much more interesting in the way the growling bass and drum groove provide a framework for the guitars to feel their way into the mix at room temperature. By the end, you wonder if this is what Monster Magnet would sound like if they returned as a doom metal group. Imagine riding a motorcycle through Berlin’s Kreuzberg district at 80mph with no helmet – that’s what the distortion feels like in your ears.

A twelve-minute finale for closing track, ‘Läderlappen’, will defeat you if your body is agitated or your stomach is empty. “I hold the key to my own cage,” screams Heesch at the mid-way point. The first four minutes are a splendid groan of primitive guitar progressions and solemn snare beats before they up the tempo with aggressive drums and layers of amp noise. This song is like a ritual of worship for an unpredictable but supreme deity that will only respond to the incantations of a select few. There’s no doubt the experience will be even more gratifying in a live setting with a beer in hand and a hoodie covering your head.

The members of Treedeon are grateful for the opportunity to write and record music, and you should be grateful to them for producing something on the outskirts of sludge metal. Though a long way from being unique, it’s different enough to make them stand out as a combative voice in a genre notorious for its manic-depressive tendencies and obsession with individual trauma.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 17/03/2023

Record Label: Exile on Mainstream Records

Standout tracks: Nutcrème Superspreader, Omega Time Bomb, New World Hoarder

Suggested Further Listening: Conan – Evidence of Immortality (2022), Melvins – Stoner Witch (1994), Electric Wizard – Witchcult Today (2007)