Review: “Tides Of Decay” by Garden Of Stone

Hailing from Tampere Finland, Garden Of Stone are a band without that many miles on the clock having formed in 2023. The brainchild of guitarist duo Jere Mäntysalo and Ville Penkari, who had the vision to commit treason by combining Melodic Death Metal with Scandinavian Melancholic Dark Metal, their proposal being to create music with brooding atmospheres, beautiful melodies and face melting riffs. Together they recruited vocalist Jesse Salo to sing and scream alongside bassist Kalle Hänninen before completing the line up with a drummer of vast experience in Matias Rokio (Amongst the Ashes, Frozen Land, Sargassus)…

…a graceful rise and fall forms the backbone of opening cut “Hymn of a Dead Man Pt.1“, the aching melancholic musings of Salo during the opening verse making way for some crushing weight in the chorus. That’s a trick repeated cleverly, giving each heavier passage a little more bite until an unexpectedly vicious verse in the final third that sounds like from out of nowhere Salo has transformed from an alter boy into a demon ablaze. The vocal laying that follows with screams underpinning cleans works well, the sheer savagery of the guitars giving some real punch to what had begun as something so much meeker. What comes next is a burst of 90’s nostalgia with Gothenburg inspired riffs tearing down the blue skies with “Idol of Flesh” rampaging through the parade like Godzilla, destroying everything in its wake. The contrast between some almost Gothic sung lines and throat shredding unclean ones gives the impression of multiple vocalists as Salo showcases some impressive range. After an unexpected soft centre with roots in Progressive Metal the end result is something that sounds like an early Trivium demo, simply because the clean vocal tone is very reminiscent of Matthew K Heafy especially when coupled with those guitars. Not that that is a bad thing by any means, if anything it shows great promise for the future and what Garden of Stone could be like if they so desire. The only problem here is some of the mixing, the first cut suffering with vocals being almost being drowned out in a couple of places. The helter skelter riffs of “Seeker of Salvation” come to the boil nicely, threatening to take Garden Of Stone to even heavier sounds, melodic leads adding a pinch of spice at just the right time. A standout cut that blows out of the water any theories of this band falling into endless melodic wandering of the wilderness with no sense of direction, you can tell this one is going to go down a storm live. “Hymn of a Dead Man Pt.2” brings this first stab in the dark to a fittingly bloody conclusion, a first half of aching melody bursting into brutal uncleans and a fretboard smouldering solo in the centre. The soaring cleans which follow are majestic and it has to be said that there are going to be plenty of A&R people from major labels looking at this with interest [8/10]

Track Listing

1. Hymn of a Dead Man Pt.1
2. Idol of Flesh
3. Seeker of Salvation
4. Hymn of a Dead Man Pt.2

Tides Of Decay” by Garden Of Stone is out 15th February 2024 via Inverse Records with pre-orders available over at bandcamp.

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