Album Review: Hanging Garden – “Blackout Whiteout”
Feel good tunes and party anthems are a regular fixture of any summer season, but by contrast, the bleak winter months are distinctly lacking in terms of dedicated releases. Out to change all that are Helsinki gloom-mongers Hanging Garden. Blackout Whiteout, the band’s fourth LP, is an album custom built for the dark, sinister, skies and pale faces of the long cold winter.
It’s fair to say that despite some lineup changes, Hanging Garden’s approach has remained pretty consistent across their eleven year career to date. The sound here is thick, albeit crisp, doom metal augmented with a variety of related influences, including thrash, post-rock and prog. In a way, it all makes a lot sense. After all, if parts of your native country spent a third of the year in semi-permanent darkness, you would probably be quite prone to cold, dreary, lifeless introspection too.
So it’s all a bit poop then? Well, that really depends on your point of view. Thematically, bands in the doom genre tend to focus what little energy they can muster on baleful futurism, humanity’s self-destructive tendencies and an overarching sense of futility. In that regard, Blackout Whiteout comes in true to form. Put simply, if you were hoping for a Joni Mitchell tribute, you’re shit out of luck. On the other hand, if there’s room in your life for the morose or if you’re a metalhead with a taste for melancholia, the angular soundscapes of tracks like Embers and the dissonant keys of Nino Hynninen (try saying that three times fast) might just rock your longboat.
Ultimately, Blackout Whiteout is an album that suffers for being a bit one note. Finnish metal bands are not exactly a rarity, and there’s little here to set Hanging Garden apart from their peers in a competitive marketplace. In other words, time to cancel the preorder for Now That’s What I Call A Cold Front and stock up on Christmas jumpers. Winter is coming, and there’s a reason Goths don’t have dance parties.