As In Gardens, So In Tombs
Review by Maciek on May 20, 2023.
This band has had quite a few changes in their style and probably as a result gained fans of various metal subgenres over the years. I am in a group which wasn't very drawn to The Dynamic Gallery Of Thoughts or The Symmetry of I, The Circle Of O, but with A.M.G.O.D. they got my attention. I still like this album a lot and I even go back to Cypher from time to time, to at least hear 'Angelina...' once more. Then they changed to Havoc Unit, again didn't hit my spot really with this one. In the meantime Festerday was created and it didn't have the elements I liked from these musicians. So, when Cosmic World Mother came out I was finally happy that the version of the band I liked was back.
And As In Gardens, So In Tombs is exactly what I was hoping for. The black metal elements are there, the symphonic elements are there and most of all - the melodies are there. Just to be clear - this doesn't have as many electronic elements as A.M.G.O.D. or Cypher. This is more in the area of symphonic melodic black metal. The echoes of 90's Cradle Of Filth or Dimmu Borgir are here, but (just like Hecate Enthroned shows) you can continue this style, enrich it with some folky elements and generally make it more modern and you can get a really good album. Some keyboards sound as if they could come from "Cruelty And The Beast" by CoF or "Spiritual Black Dimensions" by Dimmu. Some of the faster passages remind me of Marduk, more melodic faster lines bring Watain to mind. And I think I enjoy it even more than Cosmic World Mother, these melody lines sound more catchy and few of them quickly found their way into my ears and now can't find a way out.
The sound to me is a bit more clean than on Cosmic World Mother, so to me it's another reason why I like this album more. The 2020 album had more of that dirty sound which could be heard on A.M.G.O.D. for example, during the passages without keyboards. I guess changing the mixing/mastering place from Wolfthrone Studios to Necromorbus Studios made the change my ears liked a lot. Keyboards have been brought more to the front and I have a feeling the vocals sound clearer as well. Generally I like Mathias's vocals, I do enjoy listening to Finntroll from time to time as well, so I know his spectrum of voice is pretty wide. On this album he went more towards Tomas from At The Gates than Shagrath/Galder and the different production made it slightly easier to understand the lyrics.
The guitars and keyboards go hand in hand to me in this one. The opening title track brought back the memories when I heard the 'Towards Eternity' from Old Man's Child "Ill-Natured Spirit Invasion". 'Cloud Heads' opening reminds a bit of "From The Cradle To Enslave" by Cradle Of Filth. The album is also filled with catchy folky melodies played in major scales (which initially was surprising to me, but actually some of them work perfectly) instead of minor scales. And, since I'm not usually listening to a lot of that subgenre, the only comparison I could find was Finntroll as it's the perfect combination of black metal and folk for me. And the keyboards are doing a perfect job in bringing back the best sounds of the 90s and 2000s. Cradle Of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Old Man's Child and I would definitely add Limbonic Art ('Likt Törnen Genom Kött" track for example), so try imagining this mixture, add some electronics typical for ...and Oceans, proper synths, and you can imagine what it sounds like.
The drums are really impressive on this album as well. Again, maybe the different mix and mastering did some work towards clearer sound, but Kauko Kuusisalo's work is really impressive. Doesn't matter if it's fast blast beats or mid-tempos, it's really adding to the variety of other elements and makes this album very dynamic. And the complexity of the material makes it interesting every time you listen to it, you can always find a detail which you might have missed on your first listen. Some cymbals here, some impressive transitions there, it keeps you hooked to the album.
I was fortunate to listen to 12 tracks and still was surprised how "quickly" I reached the end of the album. So I had to put it back on again. And then again. And suddenly realized this is probably going to be one of the top black metal releases of 2023 for me. I can definitely recommend it to all metalheads who, like me, like all the elements listed above.
Rating: 10 out of 10345