In this edition of Under the Radar, we’re going to take a look at Dan Swanö’s new project, Witherscape, and the melodic deathdoom outfit Hanging Garden. Swanö seems to never be content unless he has more bands than fingers, and Witherscape is the newest addition to his increasing progressive music output. Hanging Garden have been kicking around for almost a decade and made waves this year with At Every Door.
Witherscape, The Inheritance
Dan Swanö has teamed up with Ragnar Widerberg- a dude with an absolutely outrageous mustache. His stage name should be Ragnarock (zing), but let’s not split hairs here. Swanö said The Inheritance was akin to Rush recording a death metal album. While that statement is a bit off, the group is obviously inspired by Rush along with other progressive acts.
Ultimately, the band sounds like an abbreviated version of Opeth, with transitions that aren’t quite as smooth. Despite this major flaw in the songwriting, there’s still a lot to enjoy here. “Dead for a Day” sounds incredibly cheesy, but is just too catchy to deny. “To the Calling of Blood and Dreams” is another highlight on the album.
Witherscape is a promising group and it seems like their next album might see a full realization of the scope of the project and the duo’s ambitions. Until now, this album will still cut it.
Hanging Garden, At Every Door
The last few years have seen the rise of bands like Swallow the Sun, Daylight Dies, among others, all seemingly influenced by the Opeth sound, but not sticklers for the clean/harsh contrast that Opeth have mastered. Hanging Garden not so secretly have outside influences, namely the Cure. Not only is this evident in the music, but the album contains a song titled “The Cure” and “The Hanging Garden” is a name of a song by the British group.
“Ten Thousand Cranes” is a great opener, displaying harsh and clean vocals with some Katatonia-like elements to boot. The Finnish group have a knack for deconstructing their sound and taking it down a notch while retaining the harsh vocals to lay waste to the more barren soundscapes like on “The Cure.”
Hanging Garden also construct some softer songs like “Wormwood” and the title track, which are back-to-back, that contrast the harsh elements better than the good cop/bad cop mentality within the same song.