The Gardnerz [Sweden]
It All Fades
Swedish death/doom outfit The Gardnerz this year releases the follow up to last year’s The System of Nature, with their brand new EP entitled It All Fades. The album starts off with the high-octane, energetic Don’t Look Back, immersing the listener in a myriad of crushing riffs and hard-hitting drumming. Niclas’ vocals are low and throaty, helping to reinforce the crushing impact of the music, as though the instrumentals of The Gardnerz weren’t punishing enough. Yet one soon realises that this energetic start is just a false front of the band, to grab the attention of the listener as the band soon goes into a doom-pace. But rather than causing a loss of momentum, this sudden slowdown has instead made things all the more intense, with the band shifting their focus entirely on the atmosphere and emotional aspects of the music, resulting in It All Fades being an extremely emotional-laden record.
Apart from the focus on the atmosphere, the emotional aspects of the music are also done through the clever usage of the various instruments, such as clean guitars and melodic lead lines that are aplenty on It All Fades. At the same time as well, the band also displays their songwriting prowess and versatility, easily transiting between the different styles, steering the mood of the listener with the various sections on the songs. Vocalist Niclas is not left out in this display of versatility as well, with A Horrible Disease seeing him attempting clean vocals, sounding like James Hetfield shouting out in agony at times, fitting to the theme of the track. Wilhelm’s clean lead guitars on tracks like A Horrible Disease make things all the more charming, at times creating a nice, soothing touch despite the apparently morbid themes that could be present.
One thing that caught my attention for It All Fades is the inclusion of a cover of the cult black metal classic, Darkthrone‘s Transilvanian Hunger on the EP. With the cold bleak atmosphere being one thing that Norwegian black metal has been known for, it left me wondering how The Gardnerz, as a death/doom band with a crushing and heavy atmosphere are gonna live up to the original, but what the band has done here would certainly surprise many. Rather than completely emulating the original in its black metal glory, The Gardnerz has instead done an acoustic rendition of the track, complete with female clean vocals, giving the track a haunting atmosphere that sends chills down the listener’s back in place of the harshness of the original, and it certainly is interesting, sounding like what Opeth covering the track during their Damnation era would sound like. The band’s ingenuity is shown in how the track manages to fit into the record perfectly, kinda like an interlude in between emotionally draining moments.
The thing with It All Fades is that The Gardnerz has put a perfect balance to the emotional, the melodic and the brutal, and does not over indulge in any of these elements, and each of these moments are put in place with a purpose. The progressive feel of the tracks would also mean that fans of albums such as Opeth‘s Watershed would probably love It All Fades as well.