As far as I remember, Memory Garden were one of the better known band’s in a 90’s Swedish Metal movement. Along with Memento Mori, Tad Morose, Morgana Lefay and Abstrakt Algebra, it was all a kind of Dark/Power/Doom thing that was influenced by Candlemass and eventually paved the way for Evergrey’s Dark Power Metal by the end of the decade. Many of the bands within the genre either headed off in a more Power Metal direction, split, or reverted back to their previous incarnations (Abstrakt Algebra were Candlemass again and Memento Mori morphed back into Hexenhaus). Memory Garden were almost the exception. Rather than change the style of the band, they were put on hold around 2001 and various members went off to other projects, finally releasing a fourth full-length studio album in 2008 that showed the band playing a similar style to those albums a decade earlier but with the obvious influence of time and projects in-between. 2013 sees them back on Metal Blade and unleashing “Doomain”.
Positively…or negatively, depending on your personal musical taste, I can report that there are no great surprises or changes of style on this album – the riffs are just as dark and heavy, the vocals are still of the same expert tone and delivery as they always were. Memory Garden have always had a very smooth heaviness to them, no particularly edgy time-changes or elaborate arrangements, and Opener ‘The Evangelist’ is actually a classic example of the band, both musically and lyrically. A dark, meaty, chunky, heavy mid-tempo arrangement with three octave faultless vocals that never dip into power metal operatics. This song is pretty much the blueprint for the whole album There’s always heavy riffs, usually a memorable chorus and effortless switches between minor and major keys. It’s varied, but within it’s own style. The simplest way to describe the overall style of “Doomain” is if you take Candlemass as a base – it has a bit of “Tales Of Creation”, a lot of “Chapter VI” and plenty of “King Of The Grey Islands”. They also have a sound of latter-day Tad Morose on the more up-tempo songs like ‘Violate and Create’, both vocally and musically, with the drummer not afraid to plunge into double-kick territory if the song demands it.
Memory Garden really are a damn fine example of this small Swedish Metal movement that must have made their homeland a much more tolerable place to be in the anti-Metal 90’s. They are probably the only original band that are still playing this style for an entire album – and playing it well! If you liked any of the bands listed at the start of the review then you won’t be disappointed on hearing “Doomain”, and in 2013, they’ve managed to give the music the all-encompassing production that it deserved at the time.
(7/10 – Andy Barker)