The bitter roots – Chiaroscuro

the bitter roots - chiaroscuroChiaroscuro is the third album from Seattle band The Bitter Roots.  They have a traditional approach to recording, with all their music being recorded to analog tape, without the use of Autotune or click tracks, and doing as many takes as are needed to get the song right.

The band has three members – Jeff is the former leader of manSaveman a Seattle rock outfit that put out 4 full length LPs between 2001 and 2006 and also played for the bands Chiseler and Into the March.  Ben is a multi instrumentalist who has played on many records over the years and is the original drummer for Ein Heit and Silkworm. Don used to play Bass for a band called Loser.

Good, fairly heavy guitars combine with smooth light vocals to create some very cheerful sounding rock music.

There’s plenty of variation in terms of pace and power, so there’s a nice amount of diversity in the album which helps keep it interesting with repeated plays.

Brief comments on a couple of songs..

Opening track “For King and country” is probably the heaviest song on the album and opens with nice powerful guitars and solid drums, and the vocals initially are more shouted than sung, but it’s not long will they change to the smooth sung vocals that we get with the rest of the album.  A great track.

“Christmas” – an odd title to find on an album other than a compilation of festive songs.  Don’t worry though – it’s not a cheesy cheerful Christmas song that you’ll hear being played to death every December.  Instead it sounds like a normal rock song, and the lyrics aren’t all cheery – with lines about “drones in the sky”, “the sounds of death that fill the air” and continued war, this is a more serious song than the title would suggest.

“From the beginning” is a slow song with a nice tune and gentle vocals.

Vocals are a very difficult area – one person may love a particular singer’s voice, while another may hate it.  While Jeff Stetson has a good voice, it’s one that just doesn’t quite work for me.  I’m sure lots of people will love it though – it’s just not to my personal taste.
Overall though I did enjoy the album and think The Bitter Roots should do well.

Rating: 8/10

The Bitter Roots are:

Jeff Stetson – Vocals, Guitar, Bass
Ben Koostra – Drums
Don Allen – Bass

Track listing:

1. For king and country
2. Christmas song
3. Soldier on
4. More pretty
5. Huguette Butte America
6. Limen
7. Bottles
8. From the beginning
9. Gilded cage
10. Family ties
11. Prophets and saviors

About Ant May

I spend half my life at gigs or festivals and the other half writing the reviews and editing photos, and somehow find time for a full time job too. Who needs sleep - I've got coffee.