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.


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

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZppkUDEIn4]

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Universal Mind Project – The Jaguar Priest
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