Formed nearly twenty years ago, Hanging Garden is another one of Finland’s many interesting bands. Initially brought together by Guitarist Mikko Kolari (who is also in ShamRain; a band which once featured Entwine’s Mika Tauriainen), Hanging Garden is a Doom Metal act with plenty of delicate detail to give.
Currently consisting of Kolari, Guitarist Jussi Hämäläinen (who also plays in Mercury Circle; a band including Jaani Peuhu of Swallow the Sun and Children of Bodom’s Jaska Raatikainen), Keyboardist Nino Hynninen, Drummer Antti Ruokola, Bassist Jussi Kirves, rounding out Hanging Garden are Vocalist Toni Hatakka and Riikka Hatakka. A very strong lineup, together they produced some powerful music that is extremely dark, yet cascaded with melody. A style they have been mastering for some time now, they have returned in 2023 with their latest album entitled The Garden.
Their first album on the Polish Metal label Agonia Records, released on March 24th, The Garden also marks the band’s eighth overall studio album. Looking back a bit, their journey began with their 2006 debut Inherit the Eden. An exceptional start, since they have consistently continued along with releases of some of the most arousing Doom Metal around. Of course, progressing through the years, with new elements interjected here and there, perhaps the boldest move was adding Riikka Hatakka to the mix back in 2019. A singer with a lovely voice, the dynamic she adds to the music is something rather grander.
These factors in mind, The Garden is eleven songs of stunningly composed music that expands well beyond just Doom Metal. A trajectory that can be trending forward for a while now, for some reason, this album seems to be Hanging Garden’s boldest in a broader direction. Mixing dark, moody Doom Metal with colorful melodies, plus varied vocals – ranging from Doom growls, to clarified vocals from both the husband-and-wife team of Toni and Rikka – there is really nothing to dislike here. Really what can be called a progressive form of Doom Metal in many respects, it borders on something perhaps Anathema may have crafted at some point in time.
In fact, this album continues along at a seamless pace without growing tiresome. Something that is delicate, very heavy, and impactful, some of the most beautiful moments include the title-track, “The Four Wind” (complete with a very Amorphis-inspired melody), “The Construct,” “The Stolen Fire,” and “The Fireside.” Each offering something unique within themselves, in truth, there is really no track that should be overlooked in the near 47 minutes of music that is a part of The Garden.
Simply put, The Garden is all about the mood. That mood is dark, melancholy, and airy… but it thickens as each song moves along. Exciting, because it allows each melody time to wander about, it also showcases Hanging Garden artistic intent here. Really one of the best albums within the darker, doomish Metal genre of 2023, Cryptic Rock gives The Garden 5 out of 5 stars.