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It’s been 5 years since these guys last did a full-length album, 10 years since the awesome “Tides”, and I do really want these guys to make a new album, feels about damn time. Tides was a great doom album, but already with “Verdict Of Posterity” the guys turned more into some power/doom metal field, and there’s plenty of both on this album too. In fact, this album isn’t that doomy, and has more of usual heavy mixed with power metal and much more acoustic guitars, the album’s Achilles heel. But the band’s performance is good as always, and as usual it’s mostly the great singer Stefan and awesome drummer Tom that sticks out the most, eventhough Tom has a bit less technical playing than before.
“Mirage” do contain some songs that we call “fillers”, and these are the calmer and acoustic-driven songs, which just are too boring (Shade, Navigate and The Search), the last mentioned being a sissy-ballad, and it really shows that these guys should write doom metal, not ballads. And also the short and calm instrumental called “Yearning”. Boringness. But of course the album has some great songs; we’re actually talking about Memory Garden here. The second and third songs, “A long grey Day” and “Hallowed Soil” are two solid, heavy tracks, just like we want them; the last mentioned being the best song of the album. Both songs have a similar heavy riff, only that “Hallowed Soil” is heavier / doomier. We also have the faster song – for being MG - , “Revelation”, with doublebass-drums verses and a melodic chorus. Its strong parts is the verses, I really like them. And the riffing passage from 2:34 – 3:14 is pure fucking metal at its best. The two songs not mentioned are “River Of Sludge”, a OK track, but feels a bit repetitive. Nice chorus, though, and then the ninth heavy song “My Pain”, a great song with awesome riffs and drums. Has a boring acoustic ending though, but it’s easy to just skip.
So, we have a heavy and crunchy produced album, that is awesome in the heavy songs and passages, but as I mentioned earlier, I feel that it’s way too much acoustic part here and there, maybe some people think this is a bit finicky, I don’t. But “Mirage” is a good album, and worth buying, if you find it. And I promise you will bang the head to the songs mentioned here below !
Best songs: Hallowed Soil, Revelation, My Pain
Memory Garden’s discography is divided in three parts in my opinion. Tides was the doomiest of all, Verdict Of Prosperity took the band a step closer to power metal and Mirage completed this course. Memory Garden’s love for Memento Mori was never a secret to us and taking under account that the numbers of power/doom bands are small and within the borders of Sweden this is an album one cannot easily relate to many other releases than the ones of the above former Swedish super band. When I first listened to this album I wasn’t too excited. Mirage is not the most hard to digest album of theirs but definitely is a piece of work that needs hearings. When this critical number of hearings is completed there is nothing left to do but to love this album. The melodies although being simple in their majority they have that magic seed that makes them sneak into your heart and stay there. Guitar work is harsh once again and a bit more up-tempo than usual. Prog/power parts are still here and of course doom could not be absent. If you dig Stefan Berglund type of vocals then this is a record for you. The man simply lays down his soul and heart for us to see and I can’t really find a song that would characterize his performance simply good. Tom Bjorn is definitely my favorite drummer not only because of his amazing playing but also because he can write songs like My Pain, which is my favorite track from Mirage and probably one of the best songs I’ve ever listened to. Mirage once again proves just how underrated Memory Garden are. This album is a freaking classic. Nothing less
I can't say I'm the biggest fan of Doom Metal- although some great Doom Metal bands do exist- I just like my music faster than typical Doom. I don't mind a slow song here and there, but some Doom Metal is just a little too slow to keep me interested over a long period of time, although most of it is still very well written. So, enter Memory Garden. Here is a band that plays your typical Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus styled Doom Metal but with a slight Power Metal tinge. The result is more double bass, some faster sections, and interesting guitar melodies and harmonizations.
The production is amazing on Mirage. The guitars have an excellent crunch, and certain parts of songs like "Hallowed Soil" and "Revelation" are pure neck breakers. Of course, the slow to mid-paced guitar sludge is present a lot, especially, and appropriately so, on "The River Of Sludge". Most of the songs are written in a complex manner, with many transitions, change-ups, and progressive builds ups. While many songs share certain characteristics, the sum of each songs parts makes them unique and interesting. The vocals are also amazing; anyone who is a fan of Messiah Marcolin will really enjoy them. Every other musician does their job with some interesting drumming and guitar work being present on a regular basis. The lyrics are very doom and gloom filled, and the music tends to be too. Despite quite bit of guitar melody and the aforementioned harmonized guitar sections, the music still gives off an aura of depression and endless nothingness. There is quite a bit of variation on Mirage, which is why I find it a lot more listenable than typical Doom. Acoustic guitars are also used, such as on "Navigate" too add even another dimension. Overall the songs are catchy, yet complex enough that listening to the CD more than once makes it sound better each time.
While hardcore Doom Metal fans will probably be turned off by the slight Power Metal hints, I found a lot to like about this CD. As a whole every song can be considered a highlight, except the obvious intro and mostly piano filled "Yearning". There are certain parts where the songs drag a bit or sound samey, and about 3 instances where I felt the songs should have been ended differently, for example: on "My Pain" the songs ends with a hollow sounding vocal passage with phonograph like production and very little instrumentation. It flowed very well from what was being played before, but the song just ends there. Even though it may be considered typical to go into a heavy and fast part with the same vocal lines right after, it would have made the song more complete. Another example is the last track "The Search". This track has this really interesting guitar melody and percussion sound at the end that would have been amazing if it progressed into a regular song, but it just ends there. Maybe it's just me... anyway, despite very minor slip ups in the song writing, I still enjoyed this CD a lot, and in fact it is probably one my favorite in the genre. Memory Garden is recommended to fans of Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus.