EP Review: Hanging Garden – “Neither Moth nor Rust” (Doom/Gothic)

Written by Melinda

Hanging GardenNeither Moth nor Rust
Doom/Prog/Gothic metal from Finland

A pretty EP from long-running Finish band Hanging Garden who play very melancholic doomy music with lots of traditional and progressive flair such as piano interludes and tracks that sound like a euro take on Cynic with the robotic vocal effects and switching between long sweeping cleans and death growling with elaborate guitar tones. 

Five proper tracks fill this EP from wall to wall with gigantic tunes wielding all the boons of modern production, and a rework of “Field Of Reeds” from a previous album, done by Avalon Skies. This rework is very much a bonus track but I enjoy it’s danceable gothic sensibilities that set it apart from the rest of the tracks. I went in blind and it was a strange experience at first as I thought it was some kind of proggy metalcore/melo death album from the 00s with an emphasis on guitar tones and clean vocals until the growls you’d normally hear in gothic doom stormed the stage to put the picture into focus. I’m just not used to hearing doom that uses a lot of theatrics and traditional instrumentation these days and it damn near went over my head. Everyones going the cavernous route to sounding like ass around these parts. 

As the EP progresses, and over multiple listens, it became clear this is a more longform type of gothic doom/post/prog that would normally need about 70 minutes to breathe but they pulled it off in 20 minutes by cutting the fat and layering over itself making for dense songs full of sound. It brings to mind Cult Of Luna, a band that in recent years that shifted towards filling their sound with electronic synth elements or at least setting their guitar tone up to emulate it to an extent (or play in unison). The synth is perhaps the highest point of this release for me and acts wonderfully as a replacement for symphonies in gothic metal which can be overbearing filler. The synth doesn’t sit on top droning, it cuts through the mix sharply and creates a flow of sound that directs everything.

The mid point is my favorite section and I always recognise when it begins as the tempo and vibe become slower and dramatic stripping away a lot of the extras to hone in on vulnerable moments. “And Leave All Love Behind” followed by the piano interlude “The Raven Portrait” take a moment away from the overly contemporary sound to dwell for a while in a more classical gothic metal style filled with patience and elegance. 

There hasn’t been much time at all between this and last year’s LP Skeleton Lake and yet there’s such a difference in execution and arrangement on Neither Moth Nor Rust that makes the music less cliché and more cleanly presented. On Skeleton Lake there were songs that were just as busy as some of these tracks but came across more gurgled and I guess given that it’s half the length, there’s also less average to cookie cutter tracks.  I’m not sure what has transpired between these two releases, or even what transpired between Skeleton Lake and 2019’s Into That Good Night to make their quality difference so much either. They’ve been around for almost 20 years so it’s not a matter of refinement – perhaps instead experimental on a technology side? 

The Bottom Line

Neither Moth Nor Rust is a poignant and energetic gothic doom album that leans towards contemporary doom and post metal ideas while retaining the romantic spirit of gothic rock and metal prior to the 00s. This EP has everything that Skeleton Lake (2021) and Into That Good Night (2019) had, but better and in a fraction of the time. An epic sound that is a good choice for starting the night, especially if you’re only just waking up at sundown.