Released: 2005, Garden Of Exile
Reviewer: Gabriel C. Zolman
This is different, though not terribly different, from what you might commonly hear in Melodic Death these days. Essentially a mix of Dark Tranquillity and Porcupine Tree, it covers much of the jazz-fusion and progressive leanings of a band like Opeth or even Dillenger Escape Plan, but unlike the current crop of Swedish-inspired American Metalcore prog-punks, the band remains firmly rooted in their Euro-Death heart and soul.
Vocalist Daan channels Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquillty) with nearly every rasp, with the occasional bizarre outburst (such as the hardcore shrieks in “She Was A…”) The guitarwork is inspiried, though not terribly given to the traditional leads and runs so frequently associated with this sort of music. They seem more influenced by Weather Report than Judas Priest, to be quite honest. It’s less Mortiis than Chick Corea (though strangely, there don’’t really seem to be any keyboards here—despite the fact that you’d swear you’ve heard them now and then).
Opening cut “Memphis Tennessee” has a lethal groove worthy of the best Napalm Death assault or Bay Area chug, And then it just gets strange, like Paria or Cephalic Carnage on the brown acid or worse. And really, one would have to hear “Pig Roast” to truly believe it—the track can scarcely be described in print..
There are references to vintage old school Death Metal on tracks like the oddly-named, “Daddy, I Wanna Be A Rockstar,” which is, strangely enough, an album highlight. Genre-wise, it falls between Morbid Angel and Burnt By The Sun…the mid-song break-downs are Dog Fashion Disco bizarre, and so far out of left field, the zip code changes with each successive beat—every riff and chord progression a frantic, maddening turn off the paved road into the gravel drives of woodland horror and experimental theatre. And yet, they never really lose their groove.
Fans of both Metal-core and Melodic Death will probably find something to bond with here, though not for the reasons either thinks.
The band is, if anything, expert in keeping one alert. For instance, track #4 (“24 Hour Armed Response”) is only five seconds long, yet is saddled between the album’s longest cuts. Compensation? Nay—madness!
Madness is the only word for this; but it manages cohesion better than most metallic hardcore of today. This is clearly experimental Death Metal—not mallcore triteness. Pursue as such, with extreme prejudice, and more than a hint of caution, if you haven’t been trepanned.