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Wonderful in Small Doses - 69%

Skarnek, September 11th, 2012

I found this for VERY cheap (I believe it was around a couple bucks) at a second-hand media store. In that respect, I'd say I scored quite fortunately. I greatly enjoy some doom metal that ISN'T Candlemass or Solitude Aeturnus; as those seem to be my go-to for traditional doom. However, good- with me- doesn't necessarily mean groundbreaking. Let's just say that this isn't KRUX we are dealing with.

The songs themselves tend to keep my attention due to their nearly progressive tendencies. This is one of those good things, yet songwriting tends to suffer from this flavor. Tsk, tsk. I know from my overly meticulous, fanatical mind that achieving masterfully crafted songs while retaining a fresh, forwardly thinking aspect to one's approach is possible. There are a few truly memorable songs included on Verdict of Posterity, yet there's not enough to keep my attention for very long. Sound's like a biased way of thinking, I know. But it's true. My fanship to Sonata Arctica proves that I have patience. Hell, they do whole segments of unresolved notes, all the while still maintaining my undivided attention. It is my belief that Memory Garden, while having much potential, has not mastered this.

All of my songwriting naysaying aside, the album does have a handful of redeeming qualities. Like a doom album should, this release is topped off with mournfully emotive vocals. However, mournful or not, this is where I think the biggest detriment lies. Stefan Berglund is not a bad vocalist, yet his overbearing presence is hard to see through and find those sweet little nuances that do exist in the band's sound. The note choices and loud vocal mix are not represented in a tasteful way for the compositions. Stylistically, if one can imagine Fates Warning's Ray Alder attempting to imitate John Arch (the band's previous vocalist), clumsiness with semitones included, then you got Stefan's approach (at least on a good bit of this release). This would have been a bad choice for Ray, and it's certainly a bad choice for Mr. Berglund. Yet, as exemplified by these comparison, the man has potential. I do suspect he is trying to sound tortured, yet his application of this attempt needs a bit of work. I could see him eventually mastering a more restrained Rob Lowe tone, yet, on this particular album, he's nowhere close.

If you are still a big enough fan of a classic doom metal to get past the negative qualities of the vocals to scavenge for redemption; there is some to be found. The Mercyful Fate-like production (think Time-era) is enough to make yours truly throw this one on periodically. Only the bass tone seems to end up not sounding very pleasing in the end. There are enough dark and foreboding notes scattered about to greatly benefit from a mix like this. "Carved in Stone" is very dark, performed in a disturbingly menacing fashion that makes me feel praise for every member (yes, even Stefan). Sadly, not all tracks are this good.

And so, my verdict- at least personally- is: I DID score bigtime in finding this for so cheap. It's got a home in my CD player at least bi-monthly. That is, until I get a few tracks in, feeling fatigued by what I wish the band would do...