Bit of an interesting back story behind this one. This Finnish death/doom outfit formed in 1990, and was signed to the legendary Black Mark Productions, where they put out a couple records in ’94 and ’95. Garden of Shadows, recorded in ’96, was to be Scum‘s third album, but Quorthon reportedly tossed this demo in the trash (likely due to a distinct lack of frost and/or fire), the band broke up, and this music would remain unheard for the next 20 years.
And while Garden of Shadows didn’t remain buried in my inbox quite that long, I’ll admit that I overlooked it several times before finally giving it a listen. Death/doom has always been hit-or-miss for me (Winter yay, Thergothon nay), and these guys weren’t particularly noteworthy, even in their day… but I hafta say, this record is a pretty decent listen, with equal servings of Tiamat, circa ’96, and Candlemass, circa ’06.
The album opens with “I Am Messiah,” which is probably not an homage to Eddie Marcolin. However, this tune is sufficiently doomy, with a forlorn, longing intro leading into a pretty solid, six-minute, slow-motion stomp. Verses feature whispered vocals and sparse instrumentation before the chorus delivers death growls and downtuned, slowed-down death-metal riffs.
Some of the riffs and vocals on “Golden Seeds” remind me of Winter—I also hear a bit of Tiamat’s excellent Wildhoney here. “Mountain of the Hawks” actually contains a couple riffs that wouldn’t sound outta place on an At the Gates or early In Flames record, although this is another slow one for the first couple minutes, with a knuckle-dragging tempo underpinning some doomy, downtrodden passages… and some really awful breakdowns beneath a plodding guitar solo. They even throw in female-sounding vocals for some reason just shy of the four-minute mark after picking up the pace.
We do get more of a melo-death influence in subsequent tracks, although the generally slow tempos keep the “doom” in the death-doom mixture. “Rise Like Morning Star,” with its “Whoa-oh” chorus chants might serve as a precursor to Amon Amarth, while the 10-minute epic “Trilogian Tales” is about 15 years ahead of Atlantean Kodex—except in the vocal department. Alas, this probably wouldda been a bit more cutting edge in ’96 than it sounds today… but it’s still a pretty decent listen.