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The Winnipeg metal scene seems to get more attention these days, thanks to bands like Noire, Wilt, Endless Chaos, Evil Survives, and Psychotic Gardening. The latter has definitely been one of the strongest workhorses around, having been founded in the mid 1990′s and having released three full lengths, an EP and a demo since then. More recently, guitarist/vocalist and producer Chuck Labossiere filled in vocals with Broken Hope for tour dates in Europe and Canada. Psychotic Gardening returns in 2014 with Hymnosis, their most accomplished album to date.
The Psychotic Gardening soup has something that makes it very accessible to metal fans, without overselling it. The production is huge and heavy, yet it keeps a very dark undertone that goes against the most commercial bands. A song like “Mindfold” is a case in point: it’s relatively fast, somehow catchy and stereophonic, very brutal, but is certainly more blackened than your average metal band. With their rich chuggy textures, the guitars are widely panned on both sides and are slightly uneven, thus giving the music a natural feel; the discreet bass guitar (with its nice rattling effect and played with a pick) and tight drums stand in the middle of the arena; while the low demonic dual vocals are placed upfront.
Hymnosis is about 80% death metal, 15% doom and 5% blackened metal, which is a subtle stylistic departure from the previous Humanitorium where the keyboard and arrangements gave Psychotic Gardening a strong symphonic/blackened/gothic flavour. It is an even greater departure from Hürdür, which was even more raw and more blackened gothic than Humanitorium.
On Hymnosis, the performance and songwriting are the biggest strengths, as all songs are good and different. There are less atmospheric passages, less 1990′s heavy metal solos, and less experiments than on the previous Humanitorium, thus providing Hymnosis with a stronger focus on the death metal momentum. There are approximately three ‘types’ of songs blended together on this album: fast riffing and pummelling ones like “Origin of the Infection” and “Mindfold”; the death ‘n’ roll songs, for example ”Defile” and “Genome Degradation”; and the slow, atmospheric death-doom slabs: “Searing Cital”, “Journey to the Sun” and “Garden Raiding”.
There are a couple extra candies coming with this release. First, Psychotic Gardening has included a cover of Death’s “Open Casket” (from the classic Leprosy album), brilliantly rendered and featuring both Tim Roth from Into Eternity and Chuck Wepfer from Broken Hope. Second, if you haven’t seen them already, the band made two great videos, one being for “Open Casket”, the other one for “Origin of the Infection”. Third, Hymnosis comes in a nice digipak with a four-pages booklet containing lyrics, which together with the artwork conveys the horror/genetic manipulation theme of this album.
In conclusion, there is a good reason why Hymnosis will stay in your cd player for a while, and that is because it is a brilliantly executed album, song wise and production wise. It has various depths of melodies (from the single solos to the complex atmospheres), an earth-shaking energy (ask your subwoofer), and many tones of darkness. Don’t miss this one out.
[Originally written for blog.metalmadeincanada.ca]