Saturday, February 12, 2011

road therapy / gardenian

1999 / Nuclear Blast

Do you crazily wail along with high-pitched vocalists while you drive? You should, it's huge fun. If your girl is beside you, her expression will just make it even better. I must have played that infuriatingly catchy 'Small Electric Space' song from this album four or five times in a row during this morning's ride just to hit those notes of the chorus.

This isn't the sort of thing you expect to say when talking about a Swedish death metal album. That's how crazy 'Soulburner' is. Gardenian's finest hour by a long mile (the debut was merely passable DM, the swansong follow-up 'Sindustries' only had a few crackers among all the filler) throws everything at you, Entombed grooves, dizzying Maiden leads, harsh roars and screams, a soaring Dickinsonian banshee in Eric Hawk, syrupy keys and even female vocals to help a few choruses stick to your brain an extra bit more. Sounds like a disorienting listen, but it's not. Everything flows along, and halfway through you take each crushing riff and each high vocal note as if they all belong together, which they obviously do.

After revisiting this album often for over a decade, I think I'll start calling it a "classic", see if it sticks. The band might not have had a glorious career but this one is a true keeper, especially when I want to risk the safety of my car windows' breaking point.

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