Picture of Gooseflesh

Chemical Garden

Gooseflesh - Chemical Garden ©1999 Digital Dimension Records
1. Wraith
2. Burning Soul
3. Godbreed
4. Cut That Never Heals
5. Thin Skinned Jesus
6. Controller
7. Art Of Treachery
8. The Syndicate
9. Voices
10. Sore Throat
11. Denial
12. Abscence

The band descriptions that supplement promo CDs are so worthless. Who can believe what they say when the labels hype and promote every single band as if they're the next Ulver or At the Gates? These info sheets are more like a test of patience for me. Anyway, after a frustrating glance at the description provided by Nuclear Blast, I decided to pop in the Gooseflesh album to see if it deserved the accolades they were heaping on these Swedes. And I must declare, Chemical Garden is a good CD, though they're hardly taking "the classic, Euro-metal edge to a whole new frontier."

Gooseflesh play 90s thrash, as in The Haunted-cum-Machine Head thrash, and not in the retro-80s Witchery style. This subgenre of metal demands a devastating production, and in this respect Chemical Garden more than delivers. Crushingly loud and bass-heavy, the sound is the equivalent of driving a Hyundai into a brick wall at 110 miles per hour, if they went that fast. Technical, dominating, groovy, and well crafted, the first three or four tracks are as good as this style of music gets. Inflecting the music with catchy choruses and judiciously placed leads that counterpoint the advancing rhythm goes a long way towards making a great album. However, it requires tremendous talent to maintain the level of aggression and keep the listener interested. Many bands have difficulty meeting the second criterion and Gooseflesh are no different. The first several songs make me want to thrash around my tiny dorm room until I sever my spine, but by the time the album reaches "Controller" and "Art of Treachery", I tend to lose track of the songs.

Fortunately, Gooseflesh return to fine form with the Slayer-esque "The Syndicate" and the album ends on a strong note with potent songs like "Denial" and "Absence". In particular, the former features some excellent scaling guitar solos and crisp, jarring, technical riffs. Throughout, Kristian Lampila screams to the music; as one would expect, his articulation is no different from that of other bands in the genre. The lyrics are filled with anger and rage, and though they are generic, Lampila's vitriolic outbursts make them all the more convincing. Besides, no one reads the lyrics anyway.

All in all, a pretty good release, even with the flaws.

Review by Jeffrey Shyu

Review date: 12/1999

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