Baltimore music mainstays Arbouretum returned from a hiatus last year with the promise that a follow-up to their 2013 masterpiece Coming Out of the Fog would be arriving in due course. That promise was fulfilled this month with the release of Song of the Rose, an album that maintains the classic Arbouretum sound while showcasing a band that is still growing and evolving. On the eve of its release, the band started off their round of touring for the record with a hometown album release show at the Ottobar.
The band opened the show with an older track, “Down By the Fall Line” from their third album, 2009’s Song of the Pearl. From there the band started into the new release with the opening song “Call Upon the Fire” and played straight through track-by-track with only an extended instrumental “space jam” (as it was annotated on the set list) between “Fall From an Eyrie” and “Mind Awake, Body Asleep.” The new album is less heavy than its predecessor, leaving behind some of the more driving riffs in favor of quieter, almost folky compositions such as “Comanche Moon” and “Dirt Trails.” But live the performance is no less intense than ever.
After finishing their run through the album, the band returned for a single-song encore with another older track, their cover of Jimmy Webb’s “The Highwayman” which originally featured on their 2011 album The Gathering. As a track that could have easily featured as part of the new set it was the perfect end to the evening, drawing a trajectory line between the band’s past and its present.
Baltimore “trans-apocalyptic galaxy rock” duo Darsombra and percussionist David Jacober (playing a set focused on marimba and vocals) opened the show.