Finland. Dark, brooding, cold, moody, grey, a little oppressive and a bit gloomy. I’m talking about their more popular brand of Metal of course – I’m sure the country is lovely – but like their Scandinavian brothers, the Finns do musical misery so bloody well! Hanging Garden seem to capture that dark Nordic vibe perfectly, they could only be Scandinavian…if someone told me they were from Belgium or Spain I just wouldn’t believe them – it’s just how it seems to be and probably how it should be.
Tracks like ‘Your Fall’, ‘Eclipse’ and ‘Whiteout’ have a real Green Carnation feel to them, a very enjoyable and welcome reoccurring theme as the album progresses. Hanging Garden have that same caged ferocity and brooding malevolence, lurking just under the surface, straining to be released. It’s kind of squeezed out in parts of the vocal, guitar, keys, bass or drums, not often simultaneously, but always there as one part of the musical sound-scape eclipses another, only to be dragged back within and tamed once more. It’s a quality I always enjoyed in Green Carnation, but unlike members of GC, these are not largely refugees from Norwegian extreme Metal bands – Hanging Garden’s intensity comes from a desire to create this music from the start, not as a rewarding afterthought. They keep things slow, the heaviness comes from power not speed, the dynamic is dark and rumbling.
Digging deeper, there is a steady, strolling Amorphis element in ‘Borrowed Eyes’, whereas ‘Words That Bear No Meaning’ leans more towards Audrey Horne with a slight industrial note. ‘Aeode’ has a little of a dark 70’s Prog mixed with maybe Fall Of The Leafe which is a nice twist and ‘Unearth’ has a musical and vocal similarity to To/Die/For, but with a grunted vocal middle section, that then reminds me of Divercia. But it is all done by a band so sure of themselves and their sound, that every track exudes class and confidence.
It’s so good to hear a band being themselves, not following trends, not trying to please a label or management, not desperate to appeal to kids or for that matter judgemental self-appointed connoisseurs. Just creating songs that take their own crushing path, evolving and growing, then settling and spreading like a dark sonic wave, immersing the listener in intensity and drama.
(8/10 Andy Barker)