Much like most power metal, doom is a genre which is either a dead-on hit or a complete miss. Sure, it’s nice to sit back and listen to when you’re in for something all depressive and sorrowful, but sometimes enough is enough. I say this with the deepest regard for doom as a genre, but sometimes things get old way too fast, and I am literally bored to tears. The idea of listening to a single chord being played at monotonously slow paces for whole minutes on end usually is something which is extremely off-putting to me, perhaps the reason why I have but only dipped a finger into the ever-growing pool of doom metal bands. Be it as it may, I sometimes force myself to sit down and decipher this anomaly of a genre (at least when it comes to my musical taste) because it seems like something I would enjoy with a blissful smile, but alas this is not the case. In my doom-hunting endeavors, however, I came across a band which seems to fit the mold of what exactly it is I’m looking for in a doom record. This band is called Hanging Garden, a Finnish doom quintet that takes all of the boring stuff out of doom and replaces them with things which a more unseasoned doom listener would appreciate.
What is laid down on their first full-length album Inherit The Eden
isn’t something only a newcomer to doom would enjoy, however. It contains elements a well-informed doom aficionado would enjoy and appreciate, while still remaining quite accessible for those who want something more than, say, Swallow The Sun has to offer. Speaking of Swallow The Sun, Hanging Garden have a sound which closely, but definitely not exactly, rivals that of their fellow Finnish counterparts. The atmosphere is certainly along the same lines, being both depressing and extremely dark, but upon listening completely to Inherit The Eden
there is just something there which Swallow The Sun does not possess. The closest which I can come to describe it is probably an obvious passion for what is being recorded, something only newcomers to the scene can have. The band plays their hearts out, but not in a way which comes off as cocky or overly deep and pretentious. They have limits and stick to them, but these limits are widespread and have a middle ground which covers a wide spectrum of metal elements. The symphonies of gothic metal are present (“As The Circle Fades”) while the riffs stick to a slow and amazingly heavy doom flavor.
Equally within these bounds is everything which connects these two varying templates on which Inherit The Eden
is based. We have the melodic side, which associates with the elements of gothic metal present in the album, while the apparent death metal influences wrap themselves up nicely with the doom metal aspect. What we have as a result is like Swallow The Sun (pardon the repeated references) plus some downright entrancing melodies. The bleak calm of the intense but excellently composed instrumental “Ethereal Passing” transitions from its own atmosphere into the heavily synthesized opening riff of the heavy “Shards Of Life” almost seamlessly. It’s an album layout which demands attention during each specific section, since it goes two tracks, instrumental, two tracks, instrumental, and two tracks. This proves to be an interesting choice which plays out to be a powerful way in dividing the album into separate moods.
The guitars are, as with pretty much all doom, the driving force of the album and they perform more or less flawlessly. However, instead of repeating the same simple riff for, say, five minutes or more, things are varied immensely, making the album seem fresh and gives it the amazing ability of never once dragging on. The songs are cut to fit within the bounds of the human attention span (which is to say there will be no 20 minute songs present) and take on a more Opeth-like way of running time, being rather lengthy but nothing to have to sideline you for upwards of half an hour. This is also one of the main reasons why the guitars are so varied; they never have the time to rest on one riff for so long. The riffs themselves are melodic in that depressing way only doom metal and really sorrowful melodic death can be, but instead of taking the form of faster-paced melodic death riffs they stay within the bounds of the genre the band plays in, taking their sweet time to proceed before repeating a few times until the riff is exhausted and a new one put in place.
Indeed the guitars aren’t the sole force which Hanging Garden presents. The bass guitar gets attention too, something which is always welcome considering how unappreciated bassists are in metal nowadays. Take the epic of the album, the wonderful closer “Fall Into Tehom” which contains specific moments where the only melody you hear is that of the bass, an element which will always be a pleasant surprise and will probably never become the norm in my book. Couple this amazing performance by all three different guitars (bass, acoustic, and electric) with simply one of the most brilliant vocal performances in a doom album which I’ve heard and you have grade A material. The deep growls fit masterfully with everything which is going on, whether it be the ferocity during most moments of “Shards Of Life”, or the downbeat verses of “The Mourners Plain”, it just works. Vocalist Ari Nieminen provides an expert performance which is simply the pinnacle of what this album represents.
If you don’t like doom metal, this is an album for you. If you love doom, all the same to you. This album is the pinnacle, the top, the best, of what this style of doom has put out. The atmosphere is thick, the guitars are abrasive but lasting, and the music is just plain quality. This is everything which a metal record strives to be and more, a tour-de-force in masterful songwriting and the flawless execution of a genre which may not be the most accessible of metal subsidiaries. Once all is said and done, once “Fall Into Tehom” fades out of the speakers for the first time, sit back and really think during those first few but extremely crucial moments after an album has spun around for the first time. I can nearly guarantee that your mind will come up with nothing at all. Why is this" Why can you not decide whether it was “amazing” or “awful” after your first listen" Simple, your mind does not want to accept that this masterpiece has come to an end.