Hanging Garden – Hereafter – EP Review

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Artist: Hanging Garden

Album Title: Hereafter EP

Label: Lifeforce Records

Date Of Release: 7 October 2016

I have been a bit of a fan of Hanging Garden for a few years now, having been charged with reviewing much of their previous output within the pages of Powerplay Magazine. Now that I’ve gone solo with the Blog Of Much Metal, I see no reason not to continue the trend. The reason for this is that I have yet to dislike any of the albums that this Finnish sextet has released. They may have fallen short of attaining the level of success of some of their contemporaries but that is seemingly through no fault of their own as each record has offered something of real quality and value.

On album number four ‘Blackout Whiteout’, it was apparent pretty quickly that Hanging Garden had taken a different approach to before thanks to a much more prominent atmospheric, Goth vibe to temper their early death/doom metal influences. Echoes of compatriots Swallow The Sun littered the first three records but less so on their latest album.

I naturally wondered how their new EP would sound as a result and was keen to explore ‘Hereafter’ as soon as I was aware it was in the offing. Comprised of five tracks, it is definitely a stop-gap release in between albums but it serves the purpose of flagging up to listeners the likely direction of the next full-length. And, on the basis of ‘Hereafter’, I get the distinct impression that Hanging Garden will be generally exploring an even more pronounced atmospheric path, producing a more varied output in the process.

‘Hereafter’ begins with ‘Penumbra’ and somewhat ironically given what I’ve just said, it is the most ‘old school’ Hanging Garden track on the EP, with the melodic, atmospheric cut of death/doom even featuring a guest vocal appearance from Swallow The Sun’s Mikko Kotamäki. I really love this song, as it is heavy yet beautiful and subtle yet powerful.

If anything, ‘Sirkle of Onan’ is even more aggressive in places. It boasts a guest vocal appearance from The Moth Gatherer’s Victor Wegeborn but if I’m honest, it is the construction of the song and the variety that makes the biggest impression. Huge riffs and growls give way to passages of quiet contemplation, creating a multifaceted track despite its succinct three-and-a-half-minute length.

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The title track then abandons the pretence of metal entirely, instead descending into the realm of atmospheric Goth/dark rock with a touch of electronics for good measure. Clean male and female vocals feature to nice effect and the melodies are as strong as always.

There’s a similar feel to ‘Where The Tides Collide’ which comes complete with a guest vocal performance from Alexander Högbom of October Tide and Centinex fame. It means that there is a more extreme edge to a composition that is largely a darkly atmospheric and highly melodic affair. I really like the song, except for the digitised male vocals that appear towards the end, but this is a very small aspect of an otherwise strong composition.

The all-too-short EP then closes with ‘Towards The Sun’. The dark rock meets Goth vibe is taken up a further notch here with some pronounced electronic effects injected for good measure, as well as some subtle orchestration. The rich and beguiling track once again features both male and female clean vocals as well as another cameo from Swallow The Sun’s Mikko Kotamäki, albeit offering his strong clean delivery instead of his more usual growls.

So there you have it. If this EP is a barometer of future Hanging Garden albums, I suspect that they will be more varied affairs with a decrease in the heavy and aggressive death/doom metal in favour of an exploration of more subtle and nuanced Goth-tinged dark rock. I’ll be honest and admit to a slight pang of disappointment as I love Hanging Garden’s heavier material. However, the Finns seem incapable of writing substandard material whatever its guise. As such, I can’t help but like the softer tracks and it has not put me off hearing a new full-length at all. And who knows, I may be completely wrong with my prediction…

The Score Of Much Metal: 8.0

If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others via my reviews pages or by clicking the links right here:

Theocracy – Ghost Ship
Arkona – Lunaris
Oddland – Origin
Sonata Arctica – The Ninth Hour
Edensong – Years In The Garden of Years
Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep Of Reason
Alcest – Kodama
Opeth – Sorceress
Negura Bunget – ZI
Epica – The Holographic Principle
Amaranthe – Maximalism
Eye Of Solitude – Cenotaph
Seven Impale – Contrapasso
DGM – The Passage
Pressure Points – False Lights
In The Woods – Pure
Devin Townsend – Transcendence
The Pineapple Thief – Your Wilderness
Evergrey – The Storm Within
Dream The Electric Sleep – Beneath The Dark Wide Sky
Periphery – ‘Periphery III: Select Difficulty’
Karmakanic – Dot
Novena – Secondary Genesis
Witherscape – The Northern Sanctuary
Eric Gillette – The Great Unknown
Tilt – Hinterland
Cosmograf – The Unreasonable Silence
Fates Warning – Theories Of Flight
Wolverine – Machina Viva
Be’lakor – Vessels
Lacuna Coil – Delirium
Big Big Train – Folklore
Airbag – Disconnected
Katatonia – The Fall Of Hearts
Frost* – Falling Satellites
Glorior Belli – Sundown (The Flock That Welcomes)
Habu – Infinite
Grand Magus ‘Sword Songs’
Messenger – Threnodies
Svoid – Storming Voices Of Inner Devotion
Fallujah – Dreamless
In Mourning – Afterglow
Haken – Affinity
Long Distance Calling – Trips
October Tide – Winged Waltz
Odd Logic – Penny For Your Thoughts
Iron Mountain – Unum
Knifeworld – Bottled Out Of Eden
Novembre – Ursa
Beholder – Reflections
Neverworld – Dreamsnatcher
Universal Mind Project – The Jaguar Priest
Thunderstone – Apocalypse Again
InnerWish – Innerwish
Mob Rules – Tales From Beyond
Ghost Bath – Moonlover
Spiritual Beggars – Sunrise To Sundown
Oceans Of Slumber – Winter
Rikard Zander – I Can Do Without Love
Redemption – The Art Of Loss
Headspace – All That You Fear Is Gone
Chris Quirarte – Mending Broken Bridges
Sunburst – Fragments Of Creation
Inglorious – Inglorious
Omnium Gatherum – Grey Heavens
Structural Disorder – Distance
Votum – Ktonik
Fleshgod Apocalypse – King
Rikard Sjoblom – The Unbendable Sleep
Textures – Phenotype
Serenity – Codex Atlanticus
Borknagar – Winter Thrice
The Mute Gods – Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
Brainstorm – Scary Creatures
Arcade Messiah – II
Phantasma – The Deviant Hearts
Rendezvous Point – Solar Storm
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld II
Antimatter – The Judas Table
Bauda – Sporelights
Waken Eyes – Exodus
Earthside – A Dream In Static
Caligula’s Horse – Bloom
Teramaze – Her Halo
Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud
Spock’s Beard – The Oblivion Particle
Agent Fresco – Destrier
Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction
Between The Buried And Me – Coma Ecliptic
Cradle Of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches
Disarmonia Mundi – Cold Inferno
District 97 – In Vaults
Progoctopus – Transcendence
Big Big Train – Wassail
NightMare World – In The Fullness Of Time
Helloween – My God-Given Right
Triaxis – Zero Hour
Isurus – Logocharya
Arcturus – Arcturian
Kamelot – Haven
Native Construct – Quiet World
Sigh – Graveward
Pantommind – Searching For Eternity
Subterranean Masquerade – The Great Bazaar
Klone – Here Comes The Sun
The Gentle Storm – The Diary
Melechesh – Enki
Enslaved – In Times
Keep Of Kalessin – Epistemology
Lonely Robot – Please Come Home
The Neal Morse Band – The Grand Experiment
Zero Stroke – As The Colours Seep
AudioPlastik – In The Head Of A Maniac
Revolution Saints – Revolution Saints
Mors Principium Est – Dawn of The 5th Era
Arcade Messiah – Arcade Messiah
Triosphere – The Heart Of The Matter
Neonfly – Strangers In Paradise
Knight Area – Hyperdrive
Haken – Restoration
James LaBrie – Impermanent Resonance
Mercenary – Through Our Darkest Days
A.C.T. – Circus Pandemonium
Xerath – III
Big Big Train – English Electric (Part 1)
Thought Chamber – Psykerion
Marcus Jidell – Pictures From A Time Traveller
H.E.A.T – Tearing Down The Walls
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld

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