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Memory Garden (Sweden) - 1999 - "Verdict of Posterity"
(54 min, "Metal Blade")


*****+
Track List:

1. Carved In Stone 6:09
2. Awkward Tale 4:25 
3. Shadow Season 6:10 
4. Tragic Kingdom 5:34
5. The Sum of All Fears 5:18 
6. Split Image 6:01 
7. Outward Passage 4:33
8. Wasteland Foretold 6:04 
9. Amen 9:46 

All music: by Memory Garden, except that on tracks:
3: by S. Johansson & Loostrom & 6: by Bjorn.
All lyrics: by Loostrom, except those on tracks
6: by Bjorn & 8: by S. Johansson.

Line-up:

Anders Loostrom - rhythm guitar; backing vocals
Simon Johansson - lead & acoustic guitars 
Tom Bjorn - drums; piano; vocals (lead only on 7)
Ken Johansson - bass guitar
Stefan Berglund - lead vocals

With:

Mike Wead - electric guitar (on 3); piano & synth (on 9) 
Kristian Andren - harmony vocals (on most tracks)
Beppe Danielsson - narration (on 9) 

Produced by Mike Wead & Memory Garden.
Engineered by Rex Gisslen at "XTC" studio, Stockholm.
Mastered by Peter ID Betou at "Cutting Room", Sweden.

Preamble. "Verdict of Posterity" is the debut album by Memory Garden, in the line-up of which you can see the names of such famous musicians as Mike Wead (of Memento Mori, Abstract Algebra, and King Diamond / Mercyful Fate fame), Simon Johansson (of Abstract Algebra / Candlemass fame), and Kristian Andren (ex-Memento Mori). Metal Blade also released the second Memory Garden CD - in 2001.

The Album. Almost all of the compositions that are presented on "Verdict of Posterity" were created within the framework of a unified stylistic representing a monumental Progressive Doom-Metal. This is the style, which was created by the Godfathers of Prog-Metal, Progressive Doom-Metal, as well as most of the other kinds of Metal, Black Sabbath, and developed later by such remarkable bands as Memento Mori and Candlemass / Abstract Algebra. (Both of the latter are practically the same band led by the red-haired composer and bassist Leif Edling. The eponymous Abstract Algebra CD, released in 1995, was undoubtedly an hour of triumph for him.) Memento Mori's Mike Wead and Candlemass's Simon Johansson equally influenced on the sound of the debut Memory Garden album. So those who are acquainted with the creation of both of the said bands can get an idea of what the music on "Verdict of Posterity" is about overall. Especially since the Memory Garden singer's idol is certainly Messiah Marcolin, who was a lead vocalist for both of Candlemass and Memento Mori. So, the combination of slow and very slow, yet, marvelously progressive arrangements, typical for the early creation of the latter of these bands, and those mid-tempo and, sometimes, fast ones that are especially evident on Candlemass's "Tales of Creation", became the basis of music on the debut Memory Garden album. However, it would be incorrect not to notice that there are enough of the band's own ideas on "Verdict of Prosperity" as well, and especially on those songs that were composed with the assistance of drummer Tom Bjorn. Indeed, Split Image (6), the music and lyrics of which Tom written alone, is the most original song on the album and one of the best tracks here in general. Another highly original song is Amen (9), which is also the last and the longest track on "Verdict of Prosperity". Also, Amen is the only song on the album (and there aren't instrumentals on it) that is slightly out of its predominant stylistics. It consists of mixed musical textures, typical for both of Progressive Doom-Metal and Symphonic Art-Rock, and, apart from the parts of the other instruments, features very tasteful passages of piano and solos of synthesizer, and also an excellent male choir. This is my favorite track on the album, which, though, I like very much as a whole. By the way, both of the said songs are the only tracks on the album that contain the parts of a real choir, and not just backing vocals. The passages of acoustic guitar are excellently interwoven with heavy musical textures on Shadow Sean, The Sum of All Fears, and Outward Passage (3, 5, & 7). Another significant aspect of this music concerns the solos of bass guitar: as well as those in the music of Candlemass & Abstract Algebra, they play one of the prominent roles in the arrangements throughout the "Verdict of Posterity" album.

Summary. Today, when the activity of contemporary apologists of a monumental Progressive Doom-Metal (above all, I mean still the same Black Sabbath, Candlemass/ Abstract Algebra, and Memento Mori, of course) is almost equal to zero, the creation of Memory Garden looks really essential for the further development of the genre. I highly recommend "Verdict of Posterity" to all those who, having seen a few familiar names in the beginning of this review, have read it down to the end.

VM: December 16, 2002


Related Links:

Metal Blade Records: http://www.metalblade.com/


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