Monday, March 5, 2012

The Gardnerz - The System Of Nature

The Gardnerz
The System Of Nature
Abyss Records

Originally released in 2010 (Independently through the band’s own website), ‘The System Of Nature’, the debut album from Swedish death/doom metal outfit The Gardnerz, has officially been picked up by U.S. label Abyss Records and given a second lease of life through this expanded re-release.
Having lived with ‘The System Of Nature’, I can’t say that my original opinion of the album has changed much from my first impressions – and that is that while The Gardnerz have penned some really great material, ‘The System Of Nature’ is in all honestly a little patchy and inconsistent as a whole.
The four piece outfit (Comprising of Vandöd vocalist Niclas Ankarbranth, Toxodeth guitarist Wilhelm Lindh, ex-Vesania/Sacramento bassist Francisco Martin and Execrator/Nimrod/Sadism/Thornafire drummer Juan Pablo Donoso) start the album off with ‘The Art Of Suffering’, which is one of the best examples of when the band really do manage to present the listener with something special and unique. Starting out with some gentle and atmospheric guitar work, the song soon takes a turn towards the heavier side of death/doom metal with some clean and heavy sounding guitar work, and the throaty and guttural vocals of Ankarbranth. From here, the contrast between Opeth-like atmospheric and gentle passages is thrown against some really heavy and clean cut mid-paced guitar riffs, all the while maintaining a death metal facade with Ankarbranth’s vocals out front. It’s an interesting mix of clinical death metal with some elements of doom metal influences brought into the mix, which combined makes for an unusual, and dare I say, unique sound.
But while The Gardnerz does have a unique sound, not everything works for the band on the song writing front. Despite some great solo work and some crushing riffs, ‘Lady In The Grave’ lacks that something special to make it really stand out from the ordinary, while ‘More Or Less’ and the plodding ‘Born To Consume’ are further efforts that fall short in the song writing department when compared to some of the stronger efforts on the album.
But while The Gardnerz does have some tracks that fall below par, there’s far more that do manage to impress. Some worthy of mentioning include the faster paced/technically inclined ‘Your Final Solution’, ‘Incident’ (Which is by far one of the album’s more unusually constructed tracks where the use of dynamics and minimalism is really exploited to its full extent), the death metal based ‘Flaw In The Axiom’ and ‘Maybe It’s Time’, where the band really throw in everything to create a song that encompasses everything the band stands for in the sound sense.
As mentioned earlier, Abyss Records’ release of ‘The System Of Nature’ comes in expanded form with the addition of two covers. The first is a cover of São Paulo (Brazil) act Vulcano’s ‘Bloody Vengeance’ (Lifted from the band’s ‘Bloody Vengeance’ album from 1986), which the band manages to cover fairly convincingly. The second cover is of Winter’s ‘Servants Of The Warsmen’ (From the cult U.S. act’s sole full-length release ‘Into Darkness’ from 1990), which is as expected, a perfect fit for The Gardnerz in a musical sense.
While there’s no shortage of death/doom metal acts within the scene, The Gardnerz do present something a little different to most on their debut effort. Unfortunately, while ‘The System Of Nature’ has its strong moments, it does have its weak points as well.
The Gardnerz have a lot going for them, and with any luck, their next album will deliver more on their strengths rather than dwell further on their obvious weaknesses.

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© Justin Donnelly