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Hanging Garden – Skeleton Lake Award winner

Hanging Garden
Skeleton Lake
by Jean-François Poulin at 25 March 2021, 2:46 PM

HANGING GARDEN is a Melodic Doom/Death Metal band from Mikkeli, Etela-Savo/Helsinki, Uusimaa. They were formed back in 2004 and founded by Matti Reinola and Ari Nieminen. This is their seventh full-length album and first since 2019’s ‘’Into the Good Night’’. This new album will release on the 21st of May on Lifeforce Records. Well it happens a number of times that you come across a name of a band countless of times in online magazines or even monthly magazines talking about Metal. I have seen the name HANGING GARDEN numerous times throughout the years and never thought twice about them. There are so many groups out there it is difficult to listen to everything and you get bombarded here and there. Finland has given us so many great bands throughout the last few decades and this is another fine example of one great export.

They combine melodrama, atmosphere and lyrical heaviness. You have your fair share of melodic guitar passages and introspective lyricism throughout this opus. The production of the album is top notch for the genre and they were able to create this atmosphere for the listener out there. It has some of the band’s traditional Death and doom Metal soundscapes but they added some Post Metal elements this time and it’s more present than ever. You can hear influences of bands like NEUROSIS and ISIS in their music but the sound is very similar to bands like SWALLOW THE SUN and INSOMNIUM.

They are a blend of Doom, Death and Black Metal with the highest emphasis on the doom metal elements is probably an accurate description of the genres that come together in this piece of music. However, the sound is very polished and hi-fi, not in a negative way. It is actually a crucial element in the album’s overall atmosphere. The final result seems to me pretty unique and very unexpected. The main reason for that is probably that despite being such a dark album, it does not feel to be conveying any negative energy to the listener. It is very immersive and has a really full and clear sound that somehow wraps you up and instantly captivates you.

By the use of tactful diversity, both in terms of musical production and vocal delivery, this album has succeeded in crafting a work of art which is captivating in its entirety. Besides the musical elements (instrumentation and ambience), shouldered by some great keyboard work, has brought with himself a rather new sound, not a kind which would put the listener off, but a figure to enhance. The whole band collaborates so finely to enrich the music of the band, from black screams to death growls to hyper clean vocals, even to whispers, a fair amount of each.

All this musical excellence does not overshadow the poetic prowess and the musicality of the lyrics. One reason that there is such an irresistible appeal in vocals could be that the words of the lyrics not only constitute the message and meaning to be conveyed to the audience, but also contribute to the overall sound of the music. This is by far Finland’s best kept secret and if you like bands like SWALLOW THE SUN and INSOMNIUM, you will enjoy this fully.

 Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Kuura
2. Faith
3. Nowhere Haven
4. Winter’s Kiss
5. When the Music Dies
6. Tunturi
7. Road of Bones
8. Field of Reeds
9. Skeleton Lake
Mikko Kolari – Guitars
Jussi Hamalainen – Guitars and Backing Vocals
Sami Forssten - Drums
Nino Hynninen – Keyboards
Toni Hatakka - Vocals
Jussi Kirves – Bass
Riikka Hatakka – Vocals
Record Label: Lifeforce Records


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