"Oracle Moon" (Earache/Wicked World; 2000)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Garden Of Shadows garnered the attention of many metal fanatics with their self-produced demo that later appeared as a full-fledged CD called "Heart Of The Corona" with a bonus track. Garden Of Shadows' mystical epic death metal has captured the imagination of discerning metal heads everywhere - and for good reason. Garden Of Shadows' "Oracle Moon" backs up the promise of their debut and raises the bar even further.

Along with traditional death metal Garden Of Shadows incorporate doom, near atmospheric tendencies, and delicious melodies into "Oracle Moon."  The overall result is an effort that distinguishes itself from others in the heavy metal realm. I never thought I'd say this, but the only appropriate comparison for "Oracle Moon" would be the glorious perfection of Amorphis' "Tales From The Thousand Lakes."

There are six songs which exceed eight minutes in length which puts Garden Of Shadows squarely in the epic song-writing category, not unlike Opeth, and one can tell the band is entirely comfortable with it. I can't imagine Garden Of Shadows writing songs less seven minutes long; although that may happen someday, the band has obviously found a comfort level with the long song's ability to give the band's riffs and arrangements the breathing room to find vibrant life.

The length of the songs is barely noticeable as the tunes unravel serpentine genius at every turn. The dual-guitar savagery can employ brutal death along with harmonized melody to equal effect. "Continuum" has the greatest potential to reach the most heavy metal listeners and put Garden Of Shadows on the metal map. Disc closer "Twilight Odyssey" is another strong tune while the title track blends precision, brutality, anger, and sadness to great effect.

The vocals are a constant (and very deep) low level growl that may take some time getting used to. However, the lyrics are quite original and elaborate while telling stories of man's insignificance in the far reaching cosmos and the power of Nature over each individual. 

"Oracle Moon" was produced by Garden Of Shadows. The production is stellar, near perfect as far as I can tell. 

Garden Of Shadows is Chad on vocals; Brian on guitars and keyboards, Mary on guitar and voices; Sean on bass; and Bret on drums. Zdenka Prado (Forty Days Longing) contributes additional vocals on "Twilight Odyssey."

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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 2007 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
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