Metal Review – Psychotic Gardening: Hymnosis

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Metal Review – Psychotic Gardening: Hymnosis
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Psychotic Gardening: Hymnosis
Death Metal, Doom Metal, Experimental Black Metal
Self-release
May 13th, 2014
Release length: 41:24
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Winnipeg, Canada has been a hotspot for solid Death Metal bands as of late, but there is a slowly growing Doom Metal community in and around that city. With those two styles starting to find success, it should come as no surprise that they would yield one of the countries most overlooked groups in the underground, Psychotic Gardening. Formed back in 1995, as a hybrid of Doom and Experimental Black Metal, and is still looked upon as that even up to this day even though a stronger Death Metal presence has been established. 1998 saw the release of their self-released debut full-length venture titled Sold for Sour Souls and a Seed. That distribution method would continue for each recording up to and including this year’s latest effort Hymnosis, the fourth album in their discography. With the recent acquisition of former Children of Tragedy and Serrated Scalpel members, does this new release stand out amongst the weeds, or are their seeds of hatred simply too weak to grow?

“Origin of the Infection” is a bit of a misleading start to Hymnosis in that it sounds like a minimalistic, technologically limited Industrial Black Metal performance. The guttural vocals work for the short, blunt distortions on the guitars, and the pounding bridges with steady, commanding drum beats that seem to have a slight synth effect that keeps the ominous sound going, but its the bass heavy break that occurs about half way through that, other than the many well executed solos including the one on this song, makes you take notice of that instrument in particular from that point on. There are times during “Open Casket” where these elements can also be found, but for the most part ends up more of an epic Doom Metal cut, as if lacing Nordic-style viking memorials with a less grandiose Candlemass influence at times.

“Defile” chugs along at a mid-tempo pace with a few subtle melodic bits to hold you over. Around two minutes and forty-five seconds in there’s a jump to stronger hooks that usher in a bit of a first wave Black Metal vibe similar to “Abigail” by King Diamond at a slower pace. Even the vocal pattern fits that mold when it first breaks out. “Genome Degradation” is a thick slab of pulsating Death and Doom Metal with a nice Southern touch to the groove that carries a bit of a Stoner Rock, even Sludge Metal foundation that makes it hard to not feel like you’re experiencing some kind of mild trip of some sort.

But what Hymnosis is really about, and what Psychotic Gardening truly excels at, is moody, atmospheric Doom Metal. “Re-Hybridized Strain” doesn’t really go anywhere, but the way the song is nurtured makes that irrelevant. The depressing performance carries itself like a continuous march to the grave, mourning every step of the way from the moment it starts until the very bitter end. The layered deep growls with distant rasps in the background only makes it all the more ominous in the lyrical concept that appears to be talking about the decline of humanity and restarting it using the formula of life. “Searing Cital” doesn’t establish that strong an emotional environment, but there’s enough going on within the track like timing changes and simple shifts to keep it engaging until the cold and dismal “Garden Raiding” carries itself like using the book of doom that My Dying Bride wrote.

Hymnosis is one of those rare albums that tries to do a bit too much but manages to handle it all in a pace that makes it all work without coming across incredibly busy or impossible to follow. Outside the not-so-industrialized Industrial Black Metal approach of “Origin of the Infection,” Psychotic Gardening unravel a tale of the decline of civilization full of emotion and resentment through the use of scientifically driven gardening metaphors often used to voice a general disgust with humanity and a desire to weed it out and start over fresh. While not every song is going to hit you that hard, there’s no denying the group’s strength lies in creating atmospherically charged funeral processions that immediately make you take notice. Between nods to first wave Black Metal groups and even contact-high Stoner and Sludge elements, Hymnosis is Psychotic Gardening‘s assertion that they are sick of this world and are not going anywhere until something is done about it.

01. Origin of the Infection – 4:23
02. Defile – 4:21
03. Re-Hybridized Strain – 3:50
04. Mindfold – 4:22
05. Genome Degradation – 4:33
06. Searing Cital – 5:34
07. Garden Raiding – 3:18
08. Open Casket – 7:23
09. Journey to the Sun – 3:41
Initial Pressing Score: 8.5/10

Psychotic Gardening
Psychotic Gardening

Digital review copy of this release provided by Psychotic Gardening via Asher Media Relations.