Garden Of Worm
posted on 6/2010 By:
I suppose it's a natural tendency for humans to try and categorize things to excruciating lengths (as evidenced by our need to "tag" everything now on the ol' interwebs), but I'll admit that I occasionally flash when I see how lackadaisically certain bands get tossed into genre pools today. I mean really, just because a guy howls with a screeching rasp doesn't necessarily mean the band's black metal, just as the latest troupe to play at a snail's pace doesn't immediately qualify them as doom. Anyway, like I said, we bipeds have a natural tendency to stack things into neat little categories, so it's obviously not a big deal. I just find it refreshing to come across bands that seem perfectly suited for the tags that hover above their heads. Such is the case with Finland's (relatively) new purveyors of progressive doom, Garden of Worm. The crux of this band's sound is firmly rooted within the traditional doom realm, but their lavish mixture of other "envelope-pushing" elements comfortably lands them within a cozy little niche amongst very few others. And seeing as how I'm only human, I would extend even further classification tags (for reviewing purposes only, naturally) such as "casual" progressive doom with "mercurial" tendencies, but that's it, I swear. To perhaps put things into more familiar terms by outlining band comparisons, think Baltimore's Revelation chopped and minced with Reverend Bizarre and spiced a bit further with the current "post-" trends of the day.
The Revelation comparisons shine brightest when Garden of Worm turn their warmer, breezier face to light. Opener "Spirits of the Dead," for example, taps the "relaxed" blueprint the Maryland gods have perfected over time, and beautifully showcases just how well these three are capable of coolly playing off one another (side note: please be sure to enjoy this record with good speakers or quality headphones to get maximum enjoyment from SJ Harju's nimble bass play -- something sure to get lost in a pair of shitty earbuds). The excellent "Alchemist's Dream" also elicits the Revelation crew with its cozy, easygoing approach alongside EJ's slightly angular riffing mixed with breezy little bursts. But the band prove they're also unafraid to darken the canopy, as evidenced by "The Ceremony" or the way "Psychic Wolves" comes from the gate; it's these moments when fellow Finns Reverend Bizarre make their way into the Worm formula. Thankfully, the band's keen capacity to turn their mood on a dime helps to set them apart, and it certainly keeps them from sounding anything like a mere copy band. It's a musical dexterity they flex fairly often on this record, and it allows them to take a tune like the aforementioned "Psychic Wolves" out of standard doom territory about 4-minutes in and morph it into something that sounds more likely to fall on a "posty" measure of an Island record. Hell, at times these guys slam the brakes and darken the mood low enough to extract a bit of a Warning flavor (albeit with less emphasis on being completely and utterly emotionally draining): "The Black Clouds" and 10-minute closer, "Hollow."
The only nitpicking I've heard in regards to this endeavor deal with the oddly "proggy" sounding vocals, if that makes any sense. They are a bit different, and sound something like what I'd imagine a DNA collision between Albert Witchfinder and Geddy Lee might sound like, but far less nasally. Hell, I don't know. They're just different, which suits the music wonderfully, as far as I'm concerned.
I'm beginning to feel a bit like MetalReview's official spokesperson for ShadowKingdom Records at this point. But rather than this being indicative of me impudently smooching their ass, I think it's simply another example of an independent label carefully piecing together some of doom and traditional metal's best kept secrets. So, for those of you who like the idea of hearing a budding band dooming things to the beat of their own drum and further challenging genre-lines, I'd say you should certainly give Garden of Worm's debut full-length your attention.
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