Punk in the City is a biweekly feature introducing influential Chicago punk, hardcore, post-hardcore, pop-punk, indie, and rock bands that have had a big impact on my personal musical evolution (and the Chicago scene in general).
Tim McIlrath has been in a slew of Chicago bands, a few more of which you'll probably meet over the course of the Punk in the City series. But none of those bands (other than Rise Against) holds quite the same place in my heart as the *hibernating* post-hardcore glory of the Killing Tree.
According to the band's (and McIlrath's) Wikipedia page, the Killing Tree is still technically alive (albeit not well) -- even though the quartet hasn't released a new recording since 2003's We Sing Sin EP. It's hard to believe the Killing Tree could still have plans for the future with the enormous success of Rise Against, but a boy can dream, can't he?
The Killing Tree is melodic hardcore with a little punk thrown into the mix, driven by the now entirely recognizable vocal stylings of McIlrath. The vocals are far more intense and gravelly than Rise Against's, and TKT's music trades speed for heavy-hitting riffs and drums. Melodic breakdowns and clean guitar complement sudden mood swings of fiery hardcore explosions. All-in-all, TKT is a dark roller coaster ride down a tunnel of post-hardcore angst.
TKT's total "active" years span 2000-04, but will they ever play together again? Unlikely. But I'll continue to keep my fingers crossed. In total, TKT has released two EPs and one full-length (Bury Me at Make-Out Creek EP, The Romance of Helen Trent, and We Sing Sin EP). A few samples have been posted below.
"If you can stand on your own two feet / then you can get up off your fucking knees."
- The Killing Tree, "Violets are Blue"