Garden of Shadows
Oracle Moon


4.5
superb

Review

by Crimson USER (60 Reviews)
May 17th, 2008 | 288 replies | 19,782 views


Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Oracle Moon, allow me to bathe in your porous honesty and absorb millennia. Oracle Moon, allow me to dive within your worn divisions and gather sempiternity...

9 of 9 thought this review was well written

It often seems like some of the most unique and exciting albums often fall under the radar for reasons that absolutely confound me. With some bands, you could argue that their sound is too unorganised, they demand too much from your typical listener. Some might be just too unique, throwing off people who don’t really appreciate things that sound so alien. Then of course, other bands might just be considered gimmicky. Well, whatever it is, Garden of Shadows don’t do it, yet they still manage to be massively overlooked and underappreciated as a band. With Oracle Moon they released an album that has a remarkable atmosphere, a solid and refined sound and an album that is hugely dynamic and exciting from start to finish. But yet it is still is oddly digestible despite the average length of the songs being around the nine minute mark.

What Garden of Shadows bring to the table that most other melodic death metal bands do not is their ridiculously rich atmosphere. The keyboards giving an enchanting yet haunting backdrop for the guitars to weave a plethora of melodies and technical riffs around, couple that with the deep, guttural vocals that mould into the sound and you have a completely unique and stylistic sound that no other band can mimic. The production is clear as a whistle, the drums being just high enough to pack a punch without being dominant, the keyboards never really taking the front seat but never being drowned out by the constant rhythmic variation from the guitarists. What is most astounding is just how atmospheric the album is, which is not really a trait that you would consider alongside this often formulaic and simple genre. Garden of Shadows mould around often progressive song structures and technical riffs without losing it, and that is probably their greatest strength as a band. It helps that the lyrics are both poetic and matching to the character of the songs, often including words that you will have never heard before giving the band an aura of mystery and elegance.

At no point in Oracle Moon’s fifty-three minute long play time does it drag, which is almost solely down to the song writing prowess of the band. Songs develop into huge climaxes, amazing interludes and huge memorable sections without even the hint of a chorus creeping in. Melodic guitar leads, huge booming vocals or enchanting keyboards, it doesn’t matter, something will almost always stand out at any moment in time in any of the songs. Garden of Shadows have such a tight grip on their style that they can throw in atmospheric keyboard interludes or very technical riffs without worrying about hurting their identity in any way.

Another thing that Garden of Shadows have developed well is their use of dynamics. Songs can transition smoothly from quiet, enchanting moments of pure beauty into powerful and forceful sections without being forced or unnecessary. The songs don’t drag, they don’t feel overdeveloped or anticlimactic, and each one delivers in its own different way. Be it Continuum with its harmonised guitar work and explosive ending, or Disillusion of the Forms, which develops into a slow and powerful melancholic ending. It is for this reason that it is so hard to pick out highlights, focusing on the atmosphere like this band does makes it hard to really make your songs sound majorly different, but thankfully Garden of Shadows are in no formulaic or samey. Garden of Shadows do not unload their entire arsenal in one song, instead choosing to make sure that each one has something different to offer the listener.

If that doesn’t impress you enough though, you can be assured in the fact that the riffs in Oracle Moon are nothing short of magical. The keyboard work is nothing short of sensational and the drumming varied and consistently impressive throughout. You can listen to any of the songs and be blown away by separate things in each, magnificent melodies and riffs. Epic synth and keyboard work, technically impressive guitar use. Garden of Shadows impress in every way, there is not a single bad thing in their sound. No inconsistencies in their style, no imperfections. Their sound is completely worked and developed to perfection, which means that you as a listener can enjoy every single second of this release.

It is with that then, that I come round to my initial point. That despite doing absolutely nothing wrong, Garden of Shadows falls under the radar, probably pushed aside by the next in fashion generic band. It astounds me that a band like this did not receive more attention. This is certainly one of the most impressive melodic death metal albums that I have ever heard. Full of progressive touches, technical flair and most of all a perfect consistency, Oracle Moon is an album that excels in every way possible. Call yourself a fan of any sort of metal, then this is an experience you will not want to miss, for that is what this album is; a unique experience, one that you will not find very often.



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user ratings (153)
Chart.
4.2
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Crimson
April 20th 2008



1935 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

One of my favourite albums. Ever. Quite daunting writing a review for it.

BallsToTheWall
April 20th 2008



44164 Comments


Another monster review, could never find anything from them though. I'm a sucker for cheesy band names but Garden Of Shadows is pretty cool, i'll try to find this somewhere off the internet.

masscows
April 20th 2008



2236 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Brilliant album. I was contemplating reviewing this but it looks like I don't have to now. Great review.

jrowa001
April 20th 2008



8750 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

you should be able to find this online Balls. this is one of my fav albums as well

Crimson
April 20th 2008



1935 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Lovely to see some people on this site already knowing about this band, cheers for the feedback as always. Hadn't listened to this for quite a long time, but man, it's insane.

AngelPhoenix
April 20th 2008



2764 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Crimson (my favorite reviewer) gave this melo-death (my favorite metal sub-genre) album a perfect rating...
Gee.
I wonder if I should check this out...
Can you compare these guys to Insomnium in any way? They're currently my favorite melo-death band by far.

Crimson
April 20th 2008



1935 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

They're better than Insomnium.
...
Seriously though? Imagine Insomnium's melancholic atmosphere, intensify that, make the songs longer, put in more impressive riffs and sexy atmospheric keyboards and you'll have something that vaguely resembles this.

AngelPhoenix
April 20th 2008



2764 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

O_O *goes to myspace page*

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
April 20th 2008



16264 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ummm. Checking this out. Now. Fuck I was just at the music store and could have gotten this.

Digging: Ulver - Bergtatt

AngelPhoenix
April 20th 2008



2764 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Call me crazy but these guys sound to me like Insomnium + Death. In a totally sexified way.
The Death I hear is in the tone of the guitars and the way they transition from riff to riff

masscows
April 20th 2008



2236 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm pretty sure this is out of print, though I saw some copies of it for around $15 on amazon a few weeks ago.


Call me crazy but these guys sound to me like Insomnium + Death. In a totally sexified way.

The Death I hear is in the tone of the guitars and the way they transition from riff to riff
the influence from later Death is very obvious. I really don't see the Insomnium comparison you guys are making at all though.This Message Edited On 04.20.08

Crimson
April 20th 2008



1935 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Call me crazy but these guys sound to me like Insomnium + Death. In a totally sexified way.
Yeah, I dig that comparison, apparently you can download it free from a website linked in their myspace (legally), I haven't tried it though.


Poet
April 20th 2008



5920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

dammit Crimson, you are backing me up with music lol. I really need summer to come so I actually have the time to listen to all of these. great review, like always.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
April 20th 2008



16264 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The rest of my day is going to be devoted to listening to the 6 albums I just bought from the store, plus this which is downloading from itunes.

AngelPhoenix
April 20th 2008



2764 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I really don't see the Insomnium comparison you guys are making at all though

Well, for me it's the feel, Insomnium kind of has this desperate flying/falling action going on, and also the way they lead into and out of the soft(er) passages. And the way the keyboards kind of hum in the background and (help) control the overall sound.

masscows
April 20th 2008



2236 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Maybe yeah, but I doubt this band and Insomnium had any impact on each other at all. I don't see any similarities between the riffing styles of the two either, aside from the obvious fact that they're melodic.

Crimson
April 20th 2008



1935 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Well, for me it's the feel
That's all it is really, he asked me to compare them, I said that they had a similar atmosphere, but apart from that I didn't actually say they sounded a lot like each other.

AngelPhoenix
April 20th 2008



2764 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, I agree with that totally, especially about the bands impacting each other directly, they've probably never even heard the other lol
edit: btw, what happened to these guys, was this the only album they ever did? This Message Edited On 04.20.08

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
April 20th 2008



16264 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

After the first two tracks I'm very impressed. However, I don't really think this sounds anything like Insomnium. Insomnium has their own way of making really depressing melodic death, this just sounds a lot different. This is looking at a 4.5 though.

Poet
April 20th 2008



5920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've listened to the 3 myspace songs off of this, and while the music is great, I can't really stand the vocals. The harshest vocals I really like are the screaming esque ones. These are just meh.



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