THIS WEEK I'M LISTENING TO...HANGING GARDEN ‘Into That Good Night’ (Lifeforce Records)THIS WEEK I'M LISTENING TO...HANGING GARDEN ‘Into That Good Night’ (Lifeforce Records)

With a name that nods towards one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, Hanging Garden have indeed created an album of some splendour in ‘Into That Good Night’. The band’s sixth album strikes the perfect balance of darkness and light, blending the melodies and progressive attributes of the contemporary metal scene with belligerence and abstract heaviness.

Written and performed with the eyes of perfectionists, ‘Into That Good Night’ is an extremely profound album which demands attention and deserves respect. Its strength is derived as much from the dramatic range of vocals as it is from the heavy, detuned riffs; as Riikka Hatakka is now officially a member of the Helsinki-based band the vocal expression across the album is deep and varied, and her delivery contrasts strikingly with Toni Toivonen’s more extreme style. The band’s doom-laden roots are still easily identifiable, but in the intervening fifteen years since Hanging Garden first came together their approach has matured and their scope has widened immeasurably. And while the band now looks significantly different to the line-up that opened its account with ‘Inherit The Eden’ in 2007, this has not hampered their development in the slightest: quite the opposite, in fact, as it’s allowed for the introduction of new elements which have played a major role in the band’s progression and longevity.

Presenting the view of a world where modern civilisation has collapsed, songs like opener ‘Of Love And Curses’ (which does a great job of showcasing both vocalists) and the title track itself boast a bitter-sweet malice and iron-fist-in-a-velvet-glove riffs. Yet the song ‘Into That Good Night’ also possesses the only real let-up from the tempest, ending as it does with a brief piano interlude which gives way in turn to the crushing delight of ‘Rain’. At times both challenging and embracing, it’s an album of overwhelming urban malevolence crossed with an intangible splendour, a symbiosis adeptly illustrated from the opening notes right to the end. ‘Into That Good Night’ is beauty, but beauty defiled, and all the better for it.

© John Tucker October 2019