Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Sleep Of Monsters - II: Poison Garden (2016)

If you're looking for a good dose of Goth rock, then this sophomore release from Finland's Sleep Of Monsters should be just what the doctor ordered... assuming that doctor is Frankenstein, of course. Aside from the deep croons (but not so deep) of Ike Vil, we also have three female vocalists (Hanna Wendelin, Nelli Saarikoski and Tarja Ele respectively) which combine together seem to give this record a sort of theatrical goth-opera flair. Though just because we have a slightly more grandiose vibe to goth rock here, doesn't mean that the riff melodies have been forgotten. Rather the band's twin guitar team of Sami Hassinen and Uula Korohonen dazzle with the kinds of melodies that I feel echo the very best of this music, even if those aren't necessarily in the form of powerful leads. Posion Garden is the kind of record where great leads are utilized, but not the sole portion of the album. When we get to the ballad (and it's early on) “Golden Bough” we soon see the band taking more of a soft-rock and tambourine approach much like the progenitors of the genre (Sisters Of Mercy, Field Of The Nephillim) albeit with the addition of orchestral keyboard atmospheres (performed by Janne Immonen) that I feel are a bit of a new feature for the level of Goth rock that they're performing here. It's not that keyboards wouldn't have been used before, but I don't recall an awful lot of orchestral and theatrical bits as I'm hearing here. I won't say that they feel out of place here however,and they seem to breathe life into a much older style than you might expect. There can even be found some progressive melodies in both the guitar and keyboards, which doesn't sound too out of character considering that goth rock was a sort of bastard child of the progressive and soft rock movements of the eighties. A slight tinge of prog can be heard for just a second or two during “The Art Of Passau” but I'm hearing a return to the sixties on “Babes In The Abyss.” Of course, those proggy keyboard organs that I mention go back to Type O Negative as well. I'm starting to think that Sleep Of Monsters wouldn't even exist if not for Type O, (you can certainly hear it in Mäihä's bass) which brings me a bit of elation, as it means that such an act really left their mark on the future and that we'll continue to hear echoes of that work for several years to come.

“Beyond The Fields” is just one of several great moments on the record in which one stands in awe, even though I don't feel that the follow-up to that, “The Devil and All His Works” is quite as good. The verse is strong, but the chorus just feels a little bit too fluffy for me. It's just a bit too cheery compared to the mystique of the previous. You might like it though, especially near the end when they bring it home. But in all honesty, we can't expect every cut to be excellent. Fortunately, most of them are, which is more than good enough for me. Another thing I might like to add about the record is that it does feature some rather notable solos. Trust me, you'll be as surprised as I was. It pretty much goes without saying that when you're playing something in the vein of Goth music, whether that be rock or metal, the solo needs to come across a certain way and that's what I'm hearing done right here. I don't really want to hear an over the top thrash solo, because that isn't what Goth is about. The sound of the solo has to be something very beautiful, yet a bit dark as well. Bands like Moonspell are a good reference for this, but not even in the vein of solos – just the style of riff melodies akin to Darkness and Hope (2001) is something that I think many Goth acts should strive for when even attempting to perform a solo piece. Of course, even that style goes back to the greats, the legends who started this creepy kind of music back in the eighties, but that doesn't change my stance on the subject. Regardless of that, Sleep Of Monsters knock it out of the park more often than not and that's when people need to start taking notice. In all fairness, Vil's vocal approach is still a little thick in the accent which might not appear to some of the less-open minded out there who may not be interested in listening to foreign acts, but I often think that's a foolish way to behave, especially when variety is the spice of life. Even the band have utitlized elements not native to their own music, like the Spanish folk influence of “Foreign Armies East” which isn't some ridiculous cultural appropriation madness that you'll have to flame on Tumblr about. It's simply an act willing to step outside it's own cultural boundaries in order to perform a piece that comes off magnificent and worthy of respect in it's own right. Don't underestimate this act, because there is clearly a lot to be excited about on Poison Garden. It's not a very long album, but it does a great job with the amount of songs that it does offer. There's no doubt in my mind that this disc is the product of a massive amount of hard work and effort and might very well be one of the best Goth rock acts you'll hear this year. It came out a few months ago, but physical copies can still be ordered from the Bandcamp page, and those come with an extra cut called “Land Of Nod” which is actually well worth the purchase. I'm kind of surprised the track didn't make it on the original album, but it'll give you more incentive to support the bands you like by grabbing physical records for your collection. Poison Garden is a record that I would absolutely not mind having in mine.

(10 Tracks, 53:00)


No comments:

Post a Comment