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Memory Garden - Carnage Carnival (CD)

Memory Garden
Carnage Carnival
by Yiannis Doukas at 09 November 2008, 2:22 PM

A lot of years have passed since the last album of these Swedish masters. Unfortunately their contract with a big label and especially with Metal Blade Records seems to be a disaster. Although they had released two very, very good albums with them, Verdict Of Posterity in 1998 and Mirage two years later, the promotion was absolutely non-existent and that goes more for the Mirage CD, which led to the fact that although they had two nice albums behind them, they remained in the underground realms. Anyway, the once legendary Metal label now is focusing in hip-hop, and rap bands and after eight years of almost silence MEMORY GARDEN reveals the entrance to a bizarre carnival.
For those unfamiliar with the name, think something into Doom sound, not in the monolithic SABBATH style a la PENTAGRAM or ST. VITUS but more in the CANDLEMASS musical framework. Put also some highly melodic moments close to Power Metal bands (please don't go to STRATOVARIUS) together with a progressive structure in their songs. Not something too much technical, or difficult to understand, but an excretion of imagination and inspiration that provides many parts to be embodied with characteristic ease.
So, eight years were interrupted with the release of the Marion 7 single and now it's the brand new album, Carnage Carnival. Changes? No, not something special, the band continues in the same paths, maybe some songs show a more solid, strong and less progressive base providing some excellent examples of easy-to-remember songs. Besides, the bassist Ken Johansson is no longer with the band and has been replaced by Johan Fredrikson. The fantastic, powerful melodically vocals of Stefan Berglund are here, the clever harmonies by Simon Johansson's guitar (former member of ABSTRAKT ALGEBRA), the heavy rhythms of Anders Loostrom and the unbelievable playing of the great drummer Tom Bjorn (was the last drummer of MEMENTO MORI and in Swano's NIGHTINGALE).  
The self-titled song is powerful, having a great chorus with astonishing drumming. The Bitter End is probably the weakeast moment of the album, having an almost 'modern' sound close to NEVERMORE and its breaks and pauses make me feel tired. That will be forgotten immediately with the ultimate hymn, Nameless. This is one of the top ten songs I have heard during this year. The refrain simply is the absolute, a Doom anthem that cannot be described. The lyrics are awesome, when I hear them my mind goes to I'm Alive from CIRITH UNGOL; for this song and only this album is a must.
Beggars Anthem, The Beast Within and A Dark Embrace have melodies that will travel you, excellent musicianship, especially in the last one the drumming is very perceptive. Generally it seems that a whole pattern is created following the guitar ideas and on the other something is 'extra' put giving more 'depth' inside that raise the songs into an other dimension. Dominion has a melancholic feel inside and a wonderful solo, although I believe that the 'entrance' and the outro could be better. The fact is that in most of the album the solos are in high level; for example, the beginning of Endless Fear brings some KING DIAMOND aura inside. Did I say KING DIAMOND? The masterpiece song Another Night has lyrics very close to the Danish horror storyteller and the production is once again handled by Mike Wead, with exceptional results. The ending epic tune, The Downfall, has apocalyptic and world destruction visions inside, good Doom but surely you will find better songs in Carnage Carnival.

Overall, here we have an unexpected return with very good music. A band that can catch many headbangers' tastes, from the range of Doomsters to melodic friends of Power Metal 'till fans of Progressive Metal. It is worth to enter the musical gates of MEMORY GARDEN. And I will repeat that Nameless is a killer song.

4 Star Rating

Carnage Carnival
The Bitter End
The Beast Within
Beggars Anthem
A Dark Embrace
Endless Fear
Another Night
The Downfall
Stefan Berglund - Vocals
Simon Johansson - Lead Guitars
Anders Loostrom - Guitars
Johan Fredrikson - Bass
Tom Bjorn - Drums
Record Label: Vic Records


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