Review of Last Words: The Final Recordings Album by Screaming Trees

It has been said over and over again that Screaming Trees were the nearly men of the 1990's Grunge scene that exploded out of Seattle, spearheaded by Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains and Soundgarden. Despite the success of Nearly Lost You, the band were never able to break into the mainstream in the way that their peers did, which is not to say that they didn't have songs strong enough to do so. Last Words compiles the songs recorded for the bands aborted final album. A small handful of these songs have been circulating on the internet for years now, but here they are presented after a slight clean up job, and finally officially released.

Screaming Trees Last Words: The Final Recordings Album

The 38 minutes of music presented here are packed full of Screaming Trees trademarks. You get the wailing, fluid, swirly lead guitar attack, showcased brilliantly on Door Into Summer and Crawlspace. You get Mark Lanegans inimitable gravelly growl which really shines on the semi-acoustic Tomorrow Changes and the distortion laden Last Words. You get the super tight Rhythm section which, despite its tightness, feels like it could fall apart at any time, with some brilliant drum fills popping up from time to time. No other band will ever sound like Screaming Trees, and only a fool would try to imitate their sound. Even though the band went their separate ways before these songs saw the light of day, they still sound like a band on top of their game.

Another of the albums charms is actually the fact that these are newly unearthed and long sought-after recordings. Lanegans voice is considerably less rough than it is in his more recent solo work - you can hear a definite evolution. Because these are old recordings, in places, the sound is a little on the muddy side, but it never detracts from the quality of the music.

Although the members of Screaming Trees seem - at present at least - reluctant (to put it lightly) to jump on the grunge reunion band wagon, it is fantastic that these songs have finally been released properly and it now seems almost criminal of the band to have shelved a magnificent song like Black Rose Way for so long. There is so much to like here for old Trees fans and virgins alike. Last Words will stand up as a brilliantly fitting send-off to one of Seattle's best, yet most under-appreciated bands.

Ben Walton

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