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Track List: 1. Prologue (inst.) 1:08 (S. Johansson, Wead) 2. A Long Grey Day 5:01 (Bjorn, S. Johansson, Loostrom) 3. Hallowed Soil 4:02 (Loostrom, Berglund, Bjorn) 4. Shade 6:27 (Bjorn) 5. Navigate 4:46 (S. Johansson) 6. Revelation 4:38 (MEMORY GARDEN) 7. Yearning (inst.) 2:02 (Bjorn) 8. River of Sludge 4:49 (Loostrom, S. Johansson) 9. My Pain 5:38 (Bjorn) 10. The Search 4:24 (S. Johansson) Line-up: Tom Bjorn - drums; piano Simon Johansson - lead electric & acoustic guitars Anders Loostrom - rhythm electric guitars Ken Johansson - basses Stefan Berglund - vocals With: Kristian Andren - harmony vocals Mike Wead - synthesizer Produced by Wead, Bjorn, & S. Johansson. Engineered by the same 'trio' at Miseria Recordings, Sweden.
Preamble. "Mirage" is the second album by Memory Garden and there are four famous musicians in the line-up on it. These are Tom Bjorn (of King Diamond /Mercyful Fate fame), Simon Johansson (of Candlemass /Abstract Algebra fame), Mike Wead (of King Diamond /Mercyful Fate, Memento Mori, and Abstract Algebra fame), and Kristian Andren (of Memento Mori fame). Yes, this Swedish band can be regarded as a supergroup. To read the review of the debut Memory Garden album, "Verdict of Posterity" (1999, by Metal Blade, too), click > here.
The Album. All the hallmarks and progressive features that are typical for Classic Progressive Doom-Metal are present on this album in all their glory. There are ten tracks on "Mirage", two of which: Prologue and Yearning (1 & 7) are instrumentals. The first of them is just an intro to the album featuring a dark narration accompanied by 'flying' solos of synthesizer and other effects. Another, written by drummer and pianist Tom Bjorn, is a brilliant instrumental piece representing a blend of Classic Progressive Doom Metal and Symphonic Art-Rock. The first half of Yearning consists exclusively of the classical-like passages of piano, while on another, these passages are amazingly interwoven with heavy musical textures. Three more songs on the album: A Long Grey Day, Navigate, and The Search (2, 5, & 10), the first of which is co-written by Bjorn, Simon Johansson, and Loostrom, and both of the other are the brainchildren of Simon, are notable for some specific features as well. All of them feature soft, atmospheric arrangements consisting of interplay between the passages of either acoustic or semi-acoustic guitar and solos of piano (on 2) and those of bass (on 5 & 10). The first two of them are about Classic Progressive Doom-Metal with elements of both of Symphonic and a guitar-based Art-Rock, which is the predominant stylistics of the album, while the music on The Search represents a pure guitar-based Art-Rock. Overall, Shade and My Pain (4 & 9) are also about the album's predominant stylistics. Although all three of the remaining songs: Hallowed Soil, Revelation, and River of Sludge (3, 6, & 8) don't contain episodes with soft arrangements, they're practically as impressive as all of the other songs on the album, as well as the instrumental: Yearning. Nevertheless, while all the contents of "Mirage" are outstanding, those six songs that are written by Tom Bjorn and Simon Johansson (see track list above; of course, I don't count Prologue) are the most diverse and complex of them. Indeed, both of these VIP's of Prog-Metal are not only highly masterful musicians, but also very gifted composers and lyricists. Finally, it needs to be said that most of the arrangements on the album, and especially the parts of vocals, are of a dramatic character.
Summary. On "Mirage", Memory Garden took a major step forward, which is especially relevant with regard to a complete originality of the music that the band presented here. You won't see the "mirages" of any classic bands of the genre while listening to this album, which is probably because, there is no place for deserts in any of the real gardens of any origin. Today, when the strongest apologists of Progressive Doom-Metal (Black Sabbath, Candlemass / Abstract Algebra, Memento Mori, Solitude Aeturnus, to name just a few) retreated into the shadow, Memory Garden is probably the best band of the genre. (Don't confuse the bands of Classic Progressive Doom-Metal with those of Modern Progressive Doom-Metal, the brightest representatives of which are Celtic Frost, Tiamat, Therion, etc, regardless of the fact that the source that both of these musical directions have arisen from is the same - Black Sabbath.)
VM: March 15, 2003
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