Memory Garden // Doomain
Rating: 3.0/5.0 — Doom for ADHD types
Label: Metal Blade Records
Websites: memorygarden.se/site | myspace.com/memorygardenofficial
Release Dates: EU: 2013.04.15 | NA: 04.16.2013
I’m a sucker for the name “Memory Garden.” I love the classic Trouble song with that title and I’ve always appreciated this group as well. Part of the moniker love is due to having worked in a cemetery bearing that name during grad school (yes, Steel Druhm was a legitimate grave-digger), but the talent, class and polish of this outfit doesn’t hurt none either. These Swedes play a type of progressive doom that sounds like a mix of Candlemass, Memento Mori, Nevermore and Lansfear with some similarities to the material off Tad Morose‘s classic A Mended Rhyme. Never too slow and dirgey, they infuse just enough traditional and power metal ideas to move things along and they bring an exceptionally high level of musicality to the table so everything goes down smooth as buttered silk. Albums like Verdict of Posterity and Mirage were definitely growers, but really resonated with me and though I somehow missed their last one entirely, Doomain shows they haven’t changed their winning sound and style. This is melodic and unhurried music with just enough thick riffage to satisfy the hankering for doom. While it isn’t their best work, and not every song is a champion, it’s good stuff well worth hearing.
First things first, the band sounds in fine form and the Dan Swano production is big and clear as a bell without sounding modern. The guitars have space and lots of power and the clarion clear voice of Stefan Berglund has room to soar and swoop amidst the big riffs. Songs like “Latent Lunacy” and “Daughters of the Sea” layer tasteful vocal harmonies over heavy, slightly proggy riffing and the dark atmosphere makes it all feel very Candlemass-y. “Barren Lands” sounds as if Leif Edling penned it and I almost expected Messiah Marcolin to burst out with some overwrought vibratos. They even toss in some death vocals for extra punch. The title track feels like material from Joacim Can’s solo album, but heavier and features scads of fluid, melodic fretting.
Doomain has a few missteps and “Violate and Create” doesn’t really wow me despite a heavier, thrashier approach and a decent chorus. Likewise, “The Evangelist” feels a bit dull and doesn’t stand up to their better material, though the chorus did grow on me after a while.
I’m a fan of Berglund’s pipes and he reminds me a bit Hamerfall‘s Joacim Cans if he had a bigger, fuller, more manly voice and at times he bears traces of Kristian Andren (ex Tad Morose, ex Wuthering Heights, ex Memento Mori). He’s adept at crafting soaring vocal lines and more often than not, his choruses stick. He has a good sense of when to dial it up and when to dial it back and go for the understated. I wish he was more active in other projects, as I enjoy what he does.
As on past outings, Simon Johansson continues to lay down quality riffs and high level solos and new guitarist Ante Makela also acquits himself well. Though they stay near a doom mindset with their playing, it’s always the lighter variant heard on latter-day Candlemass albums rather than the painfully slow kind that induces moss peeping in ADHD types like AMG. Their proggy sensibility means plenty of guitar flourishes and prolonged solos full of melody and flair, but they don’t over wank the noodle, if you know what I mean. Most of the material flows nicely and even the lesser tracks have quality playing.
I’m happy Memory Garden keeps plugging along and releasing quality albums, though they’re hardly prolific in output. I can see some folks finding their style a bit too laid back and boring, but like past albums, Doomain is a serious grower and if you enjoy doom and tradition metal, this should entertain you. If nothing else, its great music for when you need to dig a few graves.