Thursday, October 26, 2017

Gothtober- Hanging Garden - "I Am Become"

Goth metal is a term that makes you think of either Type O Negative or something like Theater of Tragedy. There are a few shades lighter and darker than are romantic or elegant enough to warrant that title. This gloomy band from Helsinki has returned to create some sounds that come closer to the Theater of Tragedy side of the coin. Finland seems to be the breeding ground for goth inflected metal. So these guys might be named after a Cure song , but they are less flowery than most. I suppose an ex-death metal band who now mainly works with melody like November's Doom might be a good reference point, as they do lapse back into the death metal vocals, though are more often more melodic than not when doing so. With zero fan fire they bust into the opening song. "Hearthfire" has more drive than the opener. The guitars sound better than anyone the previous recordings I have heard from these guys. The verse starts off with a low spoken vocal that trades off for a growl. Cleaner guitars lead into the melodically sung "Elysium" . The vocals have a similar tone to the clean vocal style employed by Opeth or Enslaved. The growled vocals join in soon enough and add some muscle to the sound.

"Our Dark Design" has an interesting blend of sounds like is actually original while falling into what might be thought of as goth metal. When I just let this album play it sometimes becomes hard to tell one song from another as there is a formula to their dynamics that finds them retracing their sonic footprints back to the similar places. The uses of the synth sounds that imitate more bass like tones provide a darkness that is one of the albums strengths as those are my favorite places. Even when on a song like "Kouta" it makes them sound more like a metallic Depeche Mode. They continue to also go to interesting places with the use of effects on the guitar. This album is excellently produced.There is a more straight forward metal to "From Iron Shores" even with the sung vocals that don't invoke metal.

Considering their name I hoped "One Hundred Years " was a cover of the Cure song. It's another interesting blend of atmosphere and aggression. While it's melancholy and not driven by double bass I would not really call it doom. "Forty One Breaths" doesn't really strike me as being compelling as the other songs and is more middle of the road metal.There is an interesting groove that opens the last song. As far as metal goes the drummer is more of a pocket player than trying to bulldoze you with thundering fills. The big chorus makes me think of something Devin Towensend might do in his more melodic excursions. I'll round this one up to a 9 as it has impressed me much more than their previous releases and has a few really outstanding songs, though none are shabby, only one struck me as filler.This is being released on Lifeforce Records.

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