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Hanging Garden - Hereafter [EP] (2016) - Review

Band: Hanging Garden
Album title: Hereafter [EP]
Release date: 7 October 2016
Label: Lifeforce Records

01. Penumbra (feat. Mikko Kotamäki)
02. Sirkle Of Onan (feat. Victor Wegeborn)
03. Hereafter
04. Where The Tides Collide (feat. Alexander Högbom)
05. Towards The Sun (feat. Mikko Kotamaki)

There's something special in Finnish sense for creating melancholic soundscapes and the six-piece band from Helsinki, Hanging Garden, are masters in this job, especially since their seminal album At Every Door which was released in 2012. While roots of this band are in somehow traditional melodic doom/death metal, showcased on their first two album, this third album marked a change in their direction which became more subtle, atmospheric, melancholic and diverse. That culminated on the fantastic EP I Was A Soldier in 2013 and especially on Blackout Whiteout album, which is in my opinion one of the 2015's highlights, where the band reached with some experimentation and addition of subtle post metal elements proper evolution in their sound. I was hooked by this band and of course I'm eagerly expecting every next output from this magnificient combo which like not many others is able to shake your mind and soul with ease. Note also that this is the first release of Hanging Garden with their new drummer Sami Forsstén, who replaced Antti Ruokola soon after the completion of Blackout Whiteout.

It seems that the creative factor inside Hanging Garden must be on its peak now, as not only one year after Blackout Whiteout, the band is out with a new EP featuring five brand new tracks. In here the band tries to revisit their past, not really returning to their roots, but more likely not forgeting from where everything started. By doing that Hanging Garden smoothly evolve and by incorporating their present atmospheric sound they as well show that they like to make experiments, thus the featured songs got new dimensions. Everything is about subtle, melancholic, atmospheric, heart rending sound that flirts with heavy and extreme when needed. So, I don't know if for more promotion and recognition or just to make their sound even more diverse the band found three prominent guest vocalist, Mikko Kotamäki (Swallow The Sun), Alexander Högbom (October Tide, Centinex, Volturyon) and Victor Wegeborn (The Moth Gatherer).

The first two tracks are a mix between death/doom and absolute melancholy, maybe a bit too much of a contrast between the two vocalists, especially in the opener, "Penumbra", it sounds a bit forced when Mikko comes out with his deep growls, but everything is forgiven when the "Sirkle Of Onan" with guest Victor Wegeborn starts to spin and you'll immediately notice that this track is slightly flirting with bands Teotwawki album released in 2009. Heavy, dense and rich sound is blended with atmospheric par exelence melodic patterns and subtle Toni Toivonen's emotive vocals. The band deepens the emotional impression with the last three songs, especially with the highly emotive and sensual ambiances in the title track, a proper deviation from anything metalic, where tender female and male vocals takes you on an intimate journey where only vast space is the limit. It's not easy to make any connections with other bands, but somehow it feels that Hanging Garden are filling up the gap between Katatonia and Swallow The Sun, sometimes even reaching into the world where the likes as Antimatter, Riverside, Ulver or even Sigur Rós dwell. Just listen to the fantastic "Where The Tides Collide", a proper post-doom-atmospheric-gothic joyful ride with one of the greatest melodies this band ever did and the fantastic ending with vocoded singing in Finnish language is just a cherry on the cake, ok, hand on heart but I could easily skip those growls by Alexander here, even though I'm sure that it will appeal to those who need their dose of brutality in every single song. Everything then swiftly culminates in the mesmerizing semi acoustic semi ballad "Towards The Sun", smoothly deepening the ambiance until reaching some kind of a climax with so very refined layers of male and female vocals. It's magic transformed into sound and if I just disregard the rather failed attempts to be extreme in the opener and some other parts, the rest of the EP is just an overwhelming blow of transcedental melancholy and emotion.

Hereafter is everything that Hanging Garden represent now, it's the unification of their past, present and future and with that the atmospheric sound of these Finns gains further on importance and emotional impression. It's a bit of an experiment, it must be some kind of a crossroad for this band and we'll only have to wait into which direction the band is marching now. If Hereafter is a final farewell from extreme sound for Hanging Garden and further dive into the waters designed on their latest album, or is the band thinking to further revisit their roots in the future, only time will tell... One thing is sure, Hanging Garden have evolved musically so much over the years that I don't see any limits for them.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 8,5/10

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