Inherit The Eden

In 2004 Matti Reinola, bass player and keyboarder of the Finnish dark rock band ShamRain, and Ari Nieminen, singer of death thrash band Dauntless, found a new band called HANGING GARDEN in order to combine the characteristics of ShamRain and Dauntless. And it dawns on us that HANGING GARDEN is a platform for creative potential which cannot be integrated in the music of these bands. "Exactly", says Matti who answers my questions thoroughly and thoughtfully. "I have always been a huge metal fan but metallic approach does not fit ShamRain's concept. We want it to be something different. So this has turned out to be a great way for me to express myself in more ways. I was in another metal band, too, when we first formed HANGING GARDEN but we decided to end that band, and that gave more speed to get things properly going with the new band. Ari has a history in a doom/gothic band called Caledonian in which he was before Dauntless. So he has never been just a death/thrash guy. We founded HANGING GARDEN as we wanted to try something different along with our main bands of that time. We shared a passion towards the early nineties doom-gothic-death bands like Paradise Lost, Anathema and Tiamat - to name a few - so we agreed to do something in the vein of the old classics, adding something new to the mix." With guitarist Mikko and drummer Janne two more ShamRain musicians join HANGING GARDEN, and they soon start to write and record songs. "To get a more metallic aspect to the songs we later asked our friend Saku from the death metal band Exit Wounds to join the band as a second guitarist. Saku has listened and played death metal since he was in kindergarten or so. So he was the right dude for the job for sure. As we then felt like we had found a perfect line-up we finished the recordings of our first promo. It led to a deal with Spikefarm and here we are now, already preparing songs for the 2nd album as well as playing some gigs."

The choice of the band name can be traced back to Matti's passionate love for The Cure, rather than the Hanging Gardens of Semiramis. "The name comes from a classic The Cure album, Pornography, which includes a song called Hanging Garden. I am a huge The Cure fan so I thought it would be a cool name for the band. For us it means a garden filled with people hanging on nooses, a kind of apocalyptic thing, although I know hanging garden means a different thing, not that at all. But that's our interpretation. I was aware of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, too, and it kinda gave the name more meaning and mysticism, which I like." Take a look at the lyrical side of HANGING GARDEN and you will notice profundity and thoughfulness. "It's practically a concept album, telling a story about mankind's ignorance and disrespect towards nature and the planet Earth. About people not caring about the future further than the next day or year. It's just written in a way that is not preaching or trying to tell people what to do. It's like an individual watching the fall of mankind, not being able to do anything about it since anyone seems to care anymore. It's my vision of our future. I hope I'm wrong, though. Anyway, if you read the lyrics you can find out that first song ´Sleep Of Ages´ is kind of a prediction of bad times as it says 'in the end we all fall'. And in the last song ´Fall Into Tehom´ we indeed all fall. Inbetween there are stories about how we end up in that situation and how it feels." Tehom is the Hebrew word for the abyss respectively the primordial waters of creation. So it raises the question if the song ´Fall Into Tehom´ is related to it, and if so, if it stands for an individual or could also be adapted to mankind in general. "First of all, I'm glad to see that some journalists are still willing to do some background research and find out facts like what Tehom means etc. I respect you for that. This song is the ending of the story on the album where the story teller finally sees the end of the world coming. All life is drowned into dark waters, sucked into a deep dark abyss and the planet earth is taken back to the early stage of evolution. Back to the times when it had no actual form, the primordial waters. I see the falling into the abyss also as the fall of mankind. It's finally time to pay for the ignorance and indifference as the nature starts to take action, wiping off the plague, mankind." The comparatively short tracks ´Ethereal Passing´ and ´Stillborn´ aerate the basic concept and mark different chapters. "You could say so, yeah. It's always two regular songs and then a lighter break. ´Stillborn´ is meant to be a beautiful, sad pause in the album before the final doomiest and heaviest ending where as ´Ethereal Passing´ is a silent moment to honour all the killed people of the song ´As The Circle Fades´."

Hanging Garden, picture by K. Pyyhtinen
Picture taken by K. Pyyhtinen

There is sadness in beauty and beauty in sadness. The music of HANGING GARDEN emphasizes this very well. It's simply to drift and enjoy or also to reflect on who we are and where we're heading to. One direction where sadness loses its beauty is the current state of this planet which we are continuously destroying. This is also an important issue for HANGING GARDEN. "Well, I think it has become clear at this point. I'm probably fortunate to live in Finland, the nature is incredible here. Southern Finland is becoming more and more a concrete hell, though. But I think we all know that with the direction we are heading to, it won't last. What I'm concerned about the most is that people are very willing to make babies and still they don't care about the earth and what we will leave behind to generations to come. That's what the album title is about in a sarcastic way. Our inheritance to future generations will, instead of Eden, be a polluted hell hole. Not that I would be any better person, I'm a part of the plague myself, too, but at least I'm aware and try to do my best when I have the strength to care." Also the cover artwork is a part of the concept and not the result of a coincidental choice. The paper doves rather have a sad background. "The expression paper doves is taken from an episode name from one of my all time favourite tv-series, Millennium, which actually deals more or less with the same issues as our album. Anyway, there was an episode called ´Paper Dove´ but apart from the title the song has nothing to do with the episode. The title just got things going on inside my head and I got a vision of a world gone to a stage where all the actual animals have already died in extinction and men try to create artificial ones, such as flying paper doves in the sky, since real birds no longer exist. That's what the lyrics are about. The front is just a scenery from the hanging garden, the world turned grey and dull. The colour theme is another reference to old The Cure classics, namely "17 Seconds" and "Faith"."

Back to music of HANGING GARDEN. Quite some time passes until the release of "Inherit The Eden" so it should be a release they are completely satisfied with. "I'm satisfied in that way that I think we did the best we could at the time. In the future I want to take it to a wider scale. Let the soft parts be even softer and make the heavy parts heavier. More variety in the music and compositions. The album has been received quite well so far, even though many reviews from Germany have stated us to be uninspirational. And, of course, they always remember to mention this other Finnish death/doom band that is becoming quite big nowadays. That sucks since we have nothing more to do with them but the fact that we have some same bands as an influence." One difference to many other bands in this genre to be noticed immediately is the absence of clear vocals which could evolve to be some kind of characteristic of HANGING GARDEN. Or will they also be tempted to use clear vocals in the future? "We will be tempted, that is for sure. Whether it will happen or not is a different thing. Ari can also sing with clean voice but we haven't tested yet how it works in our material. It all depends on the fact how the new material will end up like. Does it need clean vocals or not. I personally don't want any guest vocalists to do parts and I feel that we can manage with only the growling vocals, but then again, it's hard to predict how I will feel about it in a year or so. One thing is for sure - we want to progress and move forward. And if it needs clean vocals to happen, so be it." There are no concrete tour plans for HANGING GARDEN so far although the festival summer is about to start. Talking about festivals it would also be uncertain if people would let a band with only one album on their release list play after sunset. And a show of HANGING GARDEN in broad daylight can hardly be imagined. "No, there are no tour plans yet. We're just going to make gigs in Finland now but if the opportunity comes we'll surely tour anywhere possible. I think it's more possible after the second album that our label will help us go on tour, we'll see. Broad daylight would be the most feared place to play for us I think. A total mood killer." With Spikefarm HANGING GARDEN can ink a deal after a relatively short time. The fact that the musicians are already know from other bands plays only a minor role. "What helped the most was the fact that Spikefarm's label manager Sami simply liked our music instead of just seeing pictures of dollars or so. So we are in a good situation in that way. We have a label boss with whom we can go to a local pub to have beers and talk shit about music instead of some suit fella sitting in the office and on the other end of the phone. Our co-operation has worked very well so far, no complaints. We even signed ShamRain to Spikefarm afterwards." For the future Matti predicts us "a new great, brutal and beautiful album in 2008. As many gigs as we are offered and next year we'll go to Europe, on our own cost if not else. Our career with this band is in its very beginning so you'll hear a lot more from us in the future, I assure." In the end Matti advises those who like the atmosphere on "Inherit The Eden" also to check out the ShamRain albums. "It's coming, silent night arrives in October..."

For further information check out the HANGING GARDEN website.

Interview done by Endrew. May 2007.

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