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Hanging Garden - The Garden

Hanging Garden
The Garden
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 05 March 2023, 9:11 AM

HANGING GARDEN is a Finnish doom metal band who formed in 2004. Over the years, their style has become quite dynamic by incorporating a variety of vocal styles and adding  melodic death and Gothic elements into their melancholic sound. "The Garden" is their eighth full length album. Over the years, they have released a demo, six EPs and numerous singles. HANGING GARDEN has been on a roll these past few years but I think "The Garden," may be their best album yet. Of course that is subjective, much like this review, but I say this because album takes the ideas they have incorporated over their previous two full lengths and ties it all together.

There is a lot of confidence coming off the songs. The band seems like they have come together more than they ever have, their synergy well locked it. Musically, the album is built in a way where each element of the songs, each individual talent of the members, is on full display. The keyboards and guitars lead the example of what I mean: each of the two instruments are equally important and if one was gone, the other just wouldn't sound as effective within the parameters of the song 'The Garden' represents musicians truly coming together for the greater good, each person and note a stroke on the larger canvas.

The album begins with the title track. The smooth and Gothic keys immediately radiate the air with atmosphere. Riikka Hatakka's vocals are beautiful—lithe but conveying towering emotions. The death growls are well done—not overly brutal but extreme enough to add darkness to the light.  The song flows well because it doesn't try to be anything it doesn't need to—HANGING GARDEN isn't a band that bloats their music for the sake of just taking up time. Every element has its time and place.
"The Construct," showcases this notion well.  During the verses, the music sort of hangs back to let the clean vocals shine but the chorus is all heavy grit, especially the growls and drums.  But the clean keys and guitars are still present, the song layered on top of itself

The Fire At First Dawn,’ is loaded with moving clean vocals that are loaded with catchy lyrical passages.  The vocal approach is perfect for the music that, while still heavy in places, is more subdued.  The ethereal and Gothic mood adds to the flow–the song glides along quickly so repeated listens are enjoyable.  The song finishes strongly, crashing drums melding with the guitar for a musical passage that wouldn’t be out of place on a post-metal album. The next track, “The Nightfall,” is definitely the exact opposite.  Deadly metal riffs and death growls open the song.  The drums cascade throughout, leading the ears to each piece of this puzzle.  The first part of the song has an early 90’s Gothic feel, reminding me of THEATRE OF TRAGEDY’sAegis’ era.  Both the middle and later half portions of the song drop the hammer, higher pitched death screams piercing through the veil.

I can’t get enough of “The Journey.”  The beginning is immediately classy and elegant before moving into heavy guitar with sweeping keys.  The entire mood/feel of this song is really something else.  The lyric stanzas are focused on the vocals with keyboards providing the backdrop.  Within just the first two minutes of this song, I was treated to a variety of sounds–a journey, indeed.  The spoken word passages are beautiful yet sad, melding with the keys before going into a melodic death/doom movement once again.  This is probably my favorite song on the album and, to me, represents the sound they were wanting to achieve. The final track is “The Resolute,” another personal favorite of mine.  The low rumbling of the guitars/bass in the song’s opening moments pairs so well with the keys and drums.  This song is sparse in places, letting the bass and vocals fill in the gaps.  The drums ramp up their barrage, leading the way for an intense chorus.  This song ebb and flows, many crescendos to be found within.  A very fitting end to a great album.

The Garden,’ is HANGING GARDEN’s testament on how to keep the roots of your sound intact while growing as a band.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. The Garden
2. The Four Winds
3. The Construct
4. The Song of Spring
5. The Fire at First Dawn
6. The Nightfall
7. The Stolen Fire
8. The Journey
9. The Derelict Bay
10. The Fireside
11. The Resolute
Mikko Kolari - Guitars
Jussi Hämäläinen - Guitars, Vocals
Nino Hynninen - Keyboards
Antti Ruokola - Drums
Toni Hatakka - Vocals
Jussi Kirves -Bass
Riikka Hatakka - Vocals
Record Label: Agonia Records


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