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Garden Of Eyes – Arcane Haze

Garden Of Eyes
Arcane Haze
by Santiago Puyol at 25 March 2020, 8:33 PM

GARDEN OF EYES is a British Death Metal project by Nattskog, coming from Norwich. "Arcane Haze" is its first EP following the "2019 Demo", with the two tracks from there plus four new songs. The project takes an Old School aesthetic when it comes to sound, going for an extremely lo-fi atmosphere.

Opener "Nightmare Apostle" features an extremely brief and weird vocal sample, before imploding into synth-sounding guitars and weird, reverb-drenched programmed drums. The whole track is severely distorted yet has a strong wet sound overall that feels quite extraneous. Due to being programmed, the drums are too prominent on the mix while its great guitar solo is almost inaudible.

"Celestial Larvae" has a punkish rhythm that makes it kind of catchy, but overall the track goes nowhere, as it gets too repetitive. The mix and the overall sound is so weird that it even makes the track feel not really heavy. Guitars and bass simply mesh into a weird synth-y sound. The vocals are the most interesting element on the track, while another technically impressive solo gets buried in the background of the mix.

The distorted burst of noise at the very beginning of "Slime Scholar" is the loudest thing in the song and the whole record. Yet another repetitive track with another great moment of shredding lost in the mixing. Meanwhile, the title track shows some improvement after a promising intro. It features the catchiest riff on the record and surely could have been a little banger if it wasn’t for the poor production. Still, it has a lot of personality. Halfway through it goes into a nasty breakdown that gives way to a remarkable (and more audible) solo.

The two demo tracks somehow manage to sound better than the four new ones. "Brainsucker" is the best here, and possibly the best song overall. Despite being clearly less produced than the four previous tracks, it has an intensity and a raw quality that makes it somehow heavier. Distortion does not get as muffled as on the previous tracks and there is a nasty and wicked guitar solo that feels as loud as it should.

"Celestial Minions" features another catchy riff, with a strong Hard Rock influence that keeps it moving. It makes for an adequate closer, considerably better than "Arcane Haze". Production-wise this one feels like it is somehow a middle ground between "Brainsucker" and the rest of the EP.

Although the songwriting feels quite derivative at times and it feels like there are some interesting ideas that never get to truly blossom, the main issue here is clearly the production. I am not even sure what might be the actual problem with it. Maybe it is too much compression, too much wet reverb, maybe it is mixing and balancing issues or even microphone quality and/or placement, or some kind of combination of several issues. It is a pity because it keeps the listener from literally being able to hear how GARDEN OF EYES can sound. The demo tracks are better on that regard and get to show some promising stuff. One can hope this issue gets resolved on future releases. Let those guitars crush and bang!

Songwriting: 5
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 5
Production: 3

2 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Nightmare Apostle
2. Celestial Larvae
3. Slime Scholar
4. Arcane Haze
5. Brainsucker (Demo)
6. Celestial Minions (Demo)
Lineup:
Nattskog – Guitar, Bass, Vocals, Songwriting, Lyrics, Production
Nre – Drum Programming, Production
Record Label: AHPN Records
     


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