Sometimes you get an album and wonder why you’ve never heard of the protagonists before… This fourth long-player from Canadian quintet Psychotic Gardening (they’ve obviously seen my wife when a frog appears from the undergrowth, mid-weeding) certainly belies the satanic lyrical bent, with some diverse influences steering the set gleefully in every extreme direction.
From the outset of Hymnosis (Self-released) the scything staccato riffs of Canadian underground legend Chuck Labossiere veer between doom and thrash, while Gillishammer’s penetrating scour conducts the simmering ensemble. There’s early variation and a show of future intent in the death-doom of the Paradise Lost-like ‘Re-Hybridized Strain’, Andrew Wiens‘ howling leadwork accompanying a mournful organ and crushing riffs on the album’s first real show of strength. Rather than a mish-mash of styles, each track is different but not in a disjointed fashion, seeming to flow in expressing the chapters of the story. The rampant death groove of ‘Mindfold’, for example, displays brutal tendencies, whilst a dirty bounce and lead operates ‘Genome Degradation:’ a slow, brooding yet crushing monster with unusual chord structures heightening the addictive sound. ‘Searing Cital’ is almost funereal, the throat like an angry Treebeard and maybe Peter Jackson would’ve loved its tolling heaviness and menace as the soundtrack for the trees heading to destroy Saruman. Doom is taking hold at this point; it’s easy to dismiss the title of ‘Garden Raiding’ as violent whimsy but the track is almost moving, its doleful threat possessing stunning leads at the close. There’s an almost prog structure to the cover of Death‘s ‘Open Casket’, the longest and most inventive track, rarely breaking a canter as the superlative guitars are accompanied by powerful, dictatorial drums and some impressive screams. Closer ‘Journey to the Sun’ obviously reflects the coda of life, and that album title; occasional choral effects and the eventual marching beat sandwiched by an emotive piano
It’s an amazingly tight, affecting close to a set which constantly surprises, filling the listener with joy, sadness and angry euphoria in equal measure. Don’t let the name put you off, there’s little humour but plenty of integrity here.
8.5 / 10
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