HANGING GARDEN — Neither Moth nor Rust

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HANGING GARDEN - Neither Moth nor Rust cover
3.00 | 2 ratings | 2 reviews
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EP · 2022

Tracklist

1. Neither Moth nor Rust (03:44)
2. The Last Dance (04:40)
3. And Leave All Love Behind (04:58)
4. The Raven Portrait (02:36)
5. On the Shore of Eternity (04:13)
6. Field of Reeds (Avalon Skies Rework) (4:51)

Total Time 25:02

Line-up/Musicians

- Mikko Kolari / Guitars
- Jussi Hämäläinen / Guitars
- Nino Hynninen / Keyboards
- Toni Hatakka / Vocals
- Jussi Kirves / Bass
- Sami Forsstén / Drums
- Riikka Hatakka / Vocals

About this release

Released via Lifeforce Records, January 21, 2022.

Thanks to lukretion for the addition

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HANGING GARDEN NEITHER MOTH NOR RUST reviews

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siLLy puPPy
Cited as Finland’s answer to Sweden’s Katatonia, HANGING GARDEN also started out as a typical death doom metal band having formed in 2004 in the city of Mikkeli but just like Katatonia grew restless in its musical comfort zone and quickly expanded its palette to include all kinds of metal influences including the world of sludge and post-metal but more importantly a heavy addition from the world of gothic metal, where for the most part, the death and doom have all but left the scene altogether but HANGING GARDEN has never really abandoned those early sounds completely and continues to crank out a series of albums and EPs.

So far the band has released seven full-length albums and six EPs which includes this latest NEITHER MOTH NOR RUST fresh out in early 2022 a mere nine months after the last album “Skeleton Lake.” Like many metal bands, HANGING GARDEN keeps its experimental touches on a leash for its bonafide albums but releases these EPs to take those musical detours that don’t quite jive with the established sound spectrum of their making. This lil shorty features six tracks that only add up to just over 25 minutes of playing time but showcases the band’s flirtation with various non-metal genres including post-rock, dream pop, Finnish folk music and atmospheric ambience.

In fact, this EP isn’t consistently metal at all with tracks like “And Leave All Love Behind” sounding more like an indie folk track and “The Raven Portrait” merely cranking out a mysterious sounding piano piece with symphonic touches. While death doom moments occur, when the metal comes into play it’s clearly in the gothic playbook and not in the Type O Negative or Moonspell sorta way but more akin to The Gathering or Lacuna Coil world with a mix of male and female vocals, lugubrious atmospheric backdrops and rather straight forward alternative metal guitar riffs. Probably the most authentically goth of these tracks is “On The Shore Of Eternity” but all tracks resonate in the dark mysterious goth universe even if instrumentation varies.

The My Dying Bride influences of their past still find their way into the mix as well with the soul piercing moments of violin making their way into the mix. Unfortunately the EP ends on a bad note with the oddball “Field Of Reeds” sounding like a dance mix with programmed drums and an overly poppy upbeat demeanor despite the attempts of the piano roll to lower the mood setting. On this one death growls are kept to a minimum and clean male / female lyrical deliveries rule. The main emphasis of the piano accompanied by ominous atmospheric backdrops is the common denominator.

I’m not overly familiar with this band but i can’t say NEITHER MOTH NOR RUST is an EP that would lead anyone to further explore this band’s past canon however we must always keep in mind when delving into the side world of EPs that in the modern era, these shorter releases are meant to be explored outside of the band’s “official” context of whatever style they have developed. Basically this one sounds like a bunch of leftover tracks that didn’t quite make the cut for other albums. Nothing on here is bad but on the flip side of things nothing here is memorable either. The tension between the darkened goth aspects and the more cheerful pop elements finds the melodic touches winning out. Not quite goth enough for my tastes but as a goth pop rock release it’s not at all a horrible listen.
lukretion
I was surprised to see a new Hanging Garden’s album popping up in the list of promos, given that the Finnish melodic doomsters have released their 7th full-length album Skeleton Lake only a few months ago. I really liked that album, so I did not hesitate to give a spin to this new opus, an EP titled Neither Moth Nor Rust. It contains six tracks for a total duration just above 25 minutes. Music-wise, it feels a lot like an appendix to Skeleton Lake, albeit with more freedom to explore sonic spaces that were perhaps left somewhat in the background in the full-length release. As such, the new EP makes for an interesting complement to the Finns’ 2021 album, although one that would probably mostly appeal to fans of the band rather than newcomers.

EPs often give artists freedom to explore more diverse and adventurous landscapes that may be instead sacrificed in full-length releases, where sonic coherence is often a priority. Neither Moth Nor Rust is no exception in this sense, and finds Hanging Garden gently experimenting with new influences, while at the same time retaining their identity as melodic doom/death band. The title-track branches out towards sonorities that remind me of Amorphis in the late 1990s, rich in folk and psychedelic undertones and with big, ear-worming melodies at the heart of the song. The interplay between growls, male cleans, and female cleans is very entertaining, each vocal style adding its own different shade to the composition. The next two tracks are even more interesting. “The Last Dance” is based on huge dynamics, swinging majestically between pop-tinged verses with tastefully autotuned vocals, an ultra-heavy and dissonant bridge with double-tracked growls, and a melancholic chorus where Riikka Hatakka’s subdued vocals truly shine. “And Leave All Love Behind” opens with gentle piano arpeggios and acoustic guitars, before developing into a quasi-ambient tune that again draws on folk and psychedelia as its core influences.

The second-half of the EP is somewhat less interesting. “The Raven Portrait” is a short piano interlude, while “On the Shore of Eternity” is perhaps the most conventional track on the EP in the sense that is closest to the material from Skeleton Lake, with marked doom / dark metal influences that may delight fans of bands like Katatonia or Anathema. The EP closes with “Field of Reed”, which is actually the biggest surprise here. The song is a remake of the homonymous track from the band’s 2021 LP, completely rearranged as electronic pop, with beats, keyboards and samples dominating over the rest of the instrumentation. It’s not a terribly successful experiment, in my opinion, partly because the song relies on somewhat weak melodies that do not really have the strength to transform it in an electro-pop hit single. Moreover, in 2022 this type of remakes come as no surprise to metal fans, as goth/doom metal bands have engaged in electro-pop experimentation since the late 1990s. As such “Field of Reed” does not really seem to add much, neither to the band’s catalogue nor to the genre as a whole.

Despite the slightly weaker second half, Neither Moth Nor Rust is an interesting EP that fans of the band may want to grab (the physical CD is limited to 200 copies, so hurry up if you are interested in this release). Although there is no revolution in the band’s sound here, the EP brings to the fore influences that may have been slightly buried on the recent LP, which is always interesting to hear. In fact, I would have liked Hanging Garden to spend more time developing these influences across more songs, ideally in the context of a more organic, full-length release. But perhaps this is what EPs’ main function actually is: leaving you wanting to hear more from the band and curious to see what they will do on their next full-length album. And this cannot possibly be a bad thing, can it?

[Originally written for The Metal Observer]

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