"Sindustries" (Nuclear Blast; 2001)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Gardenian are yet another Swedish melodic death metal band to excite the masses.

"Sindustries" takes a more patient approach than its predecessor "Soulburner." The songs that comprise "Sindustries" are longer and adorned with metallic flourishes yet still find a way to rip your eardrums apart. While "Sindustries" may lack some of the aggressiveness of similar bands like In Flames and Arch Enemy, Gardenian takes their music to a new level in terms of its uniqueness. It's this kind of disciplined, in-check fury that allows Gardenian to separate themselves from their Gothenburg brethren.

The greased lightning of "Courageous" and the potent mid-paced charge of "The Heartless" set the pace for "Sindustries". Quiet songs like "Funeral" also get their due amidst the melodic fury. During the song "Scissorfight" you can hear Jim Kjell's precarious heart trembling with fear. There's even a song called "Sonic Death Monkey" - did these guys watch the movie "High Fidelity" while making this CD? 

The vocals are much cleaner this time around with an added emphasis on melody. However, the clean female vocals have been ditched which, in the end, really doesn't make a difference on "Sindustries." 

The length of the songs is what gives "Sindustries" its strength and weaknesses. Most of the ten tracks exceed six minutes; only one song is less than five minutes long. My opinion is that 'melodic death metal' songs are best suited for three to four minute range (and certainly not much longer than that). However, even the longest songs on "Sindustries" are free of repetitious overkill. "Sindustries" is exactly what the Gothenburg scene needed - an album that remains true to the Gothenburg spirit yet doesn't sound like any other Gothenburg band. 

In the end, "Sindustries" is somewhat better than "Soulburner," but probably a whole lot more satisfying because it does break free of the narrow expectations of 'melodic death metal'. 

"Sindustries" was produced by Peter Tagtgren (Hypocrisy). This is one CD that bears the unmistakable influence of Peter Tagtgren as there are distinct references to Hypocrisy's 1999 self-titled release on "Sindustries" - this is both a blessing and a curse. 

Gardenian is Jim Kjell on vocals and guitars, Niclas Engelin on guitars, Thim Blom on drums, and Hakan Skoger on bass. 

"Soulburner" (Nuclear Blast; 2000)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Of all the 'melodic death metal' bands coming out of Sweden only Gardenian sounds the most like In Flames; it is interesting to note that guitarist Niclas Engelin toured with In Flames during the jaunts that supported "Whoracle."

However, Engelin and his Gardenian mates do quite a few things that make them unique from In Flames and their other Swedish brethren (Soilwork, Arch Enemy, and Dark Tranquillity). The guitar melodies are kept to a minimum as the muscular rhythm guitars get the lion's share of the work. Piano and keyboards as stand-alone musical ideas have great weight in Gardenian's palette of colors.

"Powertool" and the title track make themselves instantly recognizable while "Chaos In Flesh" sprints headlong into metal nirvana. "Loss" is a gothic prelude to the haunting "Black Days" which strikes at the very heart of confronting our humanity.

A three-vocalist attack keeps things fresh and exciting throughout. Guttural male vocals, clean male vocals, and clean female vocals are spliced into the songs at the appropriate moments to gain maximum effect. The lyrics tell tales of depression and contemplation of suicide along side aggressive bursts of crazed destruction.

Gardenian: Jim Kjell on vocals and guitars, Niclas Engelin on guitars, Thim Blom on drums, and Hakan Skoger on bass. Additional performances by Eric Hawk (vocals), Sabrina Khilstrand (vocals), and Thomas Fredriksson (keyboards).

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Copyright 2005 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
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