"Mirage" (Metal Blade; 2001)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Memory Garden are from Sweden so I'm already biased in favor of these guys before "Mirage" even gets in the CD player. Memory Garden are one of the first bands I've heard that borrow from the doom-laden gothic sound that Candlemass made so famous in the '80s, but Memory Garden add slow-to mid-paced riff-oriented power metal influences that makes it sound fresh and exciting.

Musically, Memory Garden don't play the greatest riffs ever, but they do have a knack for infectious hard rock riffs and song structures that linger in the mind for quite some time. I particularly like the riffs generated on "A Long Grey Day" and "The Search." The overall mood on the near-epic "Shade" is also interesting. "Navigate" brings emotional distress to the forefront and "My Pain" utilizes classic metallic riffing in a more power metal vein.

Vocalist Stefan Berglund is most responsible for Candlemass references as he more often than not sounds like Messiah Marcolin. Given all the growling and grunting vocals I've been subjected to lately it was nice to hear Berglund's clear throat give life to the doomed and depressed materials in the songs' lyrics. Berglund also has shades of Warrel Dane (Nevermore) and David Taylor (Jacob's Dream) in his voice. I know it's such a cheap way to describe a band or a singer, but in this case it's true.

I'd put Memory Garden in the same league as Lefay - they're not likely to be metal superstars, but they'll never embarrass themselves, that's for sure.

"Mirage" was produced by Mike Wead, Tom Bjorn, and Simon Johansson. 

Memory Garden is Stefan Berglund on vocals, Simon Johansson and Anders Loostrom on guitars, Ken Johansson on bass, and Tom Bjorn on drums and piano.

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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 2001 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11 Sep 2022 13:59:46 -0400.