Hanging Garden // At Every Door
Rating: 2.5/5.0 – Too depressed to come up with a clever tagline
Label: Lifeforce Records
Websites: www.hanging-garden.net | Facebook
Release Dates: EU: 2013.01.25 | NA: 01.25.2013
As I write this, it’s 15 degrees Fahrenheit outside. The sun rises, but does not provide any warmth. Everything in my world is covered in a thin layer of ice, and things seem to be moving very slowly. In other words: it’s cold as shit out here. [Huh, it's -15° C as I'm reading this... quit whining, you pussy. - AMG] This is the perfect weather for some gloomy, atmospheric, slow-ass metal. And it just so happens that I have At Every Door, the new album by Finnish sextet Hanging Garden. As their name might imply, Hanging Garden plays a brand of Cure-influenced metal, with the emphasis more on atmosphere than on riffs or speed. Guitars are laden with echo effects, and drums are occasionally treated with pseudo-electronica distortion, not unlike A Perfect Circle. To my mind, these guys sound like a more structured Isis, or a really bummed-out Katatonia [isn't Katatonia a really bummed out Katanonia? — Steel Druhm]. I don’t know what the technical term is for this kind of music (Cure-core?), but it’s the metal equivalent of owning lots of cats.
One difference between Hanging Garden and the aforementioned bands is the presence of a rich, meaty death metal roar. The juxtaposition of guttural vokills against this musical backdrop is pretty jarring — that first growl on opener “Ten Thousand Cranes” definitely was not what I was expecting. “Ash & Dust” and “Hegira” follow suit, oppressively slow and intricately layered, with that brutal voice breaking up the pretty parts nicely. This stuff is artfully crafted and overwhelmingly miserable. I don’t know what it is about Finland that produces depressing bands (Ghost Brigade, Swallow The Sun, fucking Sentenced) — perhaps it has something to do with that whole “two straight months of darkness every year” thing. Anyways…
As the album goes on, the tracks become more abstract, more repetitive, with less and less holding them together. By the time you get to the title track and “The Cure”1, you’re hearing some serious drone-based stuff, with very little vocals or other dynamics holding it together. Imagine Jesu with some death-metal guy yelling at them every few minutes. This will either sound soul-crushingly beautiful, or bore the shit out of you, depending on your level of clinical depression. Only the track “Evenfall” breaks character, with a (relatively) faster tempo and almost accessible feel to it.
On the scale of misery, At Every Door falls somewhere between “staying in bed all day” and “drinking bleach.” You know that a time will come in your life when you will need music like this, and you know you can trust people from Finland to do it right. Hanging Garden is pretty late to the party as far as this style of music is concerned, and they’re not breaking any new ground. But if you’re feeling bad, and want to feel even worse, At Every Door will certainly get the job done.
- *I’d like to take a moment to comment on the massive balls it must take for a band named Hanging Garden to write a song called “The Cure.” That’d be like being in a band called Creeping Death and then writing a song called “Metallica.” Good luck finding that shit in a Google search. ↩