Artist: Cruelty in the Garden
Album: Hidden Reality (EP)
You’ve probably heard the saying “there’s a time and a place for everything” hundreds of times—because it’s true. Certain occasions call for certain actions, just as certain occasions well…don’t. Just a good fisherman knows when the waters are right and which bait and tackle to use, they also must know when the fish aren’t biting and it’s time to pack it in. Few things exemplify this as well as Polish deathcore quintet Cruelty in the Garden, a band who are capable of blending extraordinary levels of atmosphere and symphony into hard-hitting and bone-crunching deathcore with remarkable fluidity and ease. Hidden Reality is a short, but dense EP that beautifully demonstrates how symphonic deathcore should be done, even if it does find itself occasionally over drafted and long-winded.
Hidden Reality, in part, is a slight misnomer given the in-your-face attack with which the EP begins. Cruelty in the Garden let loose with a spine-crushing stop-and-start breakdown which wastes no time in socking the listener square in the jaw. However, after “We’ll Meet by the River of Blood…” segues smoothly into the figurative “second part” of the track, “…When the Right Time Comes,” the listener is exposed to more than a series of gut punching chugs and spine-tinglingly splashy cymbal work. The first full track on the release highlights the band’s penchant for the heavy, true enough, but it also does a brilliant job establishing the phenomenal musicianship that composes the sheer brutality with which Cruelty in the Garden attack the listener. “…When the Right Time Comes” roars into to the listeners head with a stunning combination of fleet footwork and catchy riffing (shortly before dropping into a disgustingly filthy groove), while “Before Tomorrow Had Come” builds up slowly, but surely into a devastating four-alarm attack of soulful shredding and bone-busting brutality. Throughout the entire release, the instrumentation is always dynamic and well-written, winding and weaving intelligently and in synchronous harmony to create immersive labyrinths of sound.
These million-mile mazes of masterful musicianship are so immersive, in part, because of the stunning and uncanny ways with which Cruelty in the Garden are capable of including both subtle and obtuse symphonic elements. The opening of “…When the Right Time Comes,” for example, opens with an atmosphere so eerie that the listener cannot possibly miss it. Meanwhile, even the band’s reworked version of Sepultura’s “Roots Bloody Roots” includes the band’s affinity for both grinding, grimy groove and subtle, slight touches of ethereal atmosphere which truly makes the cover their own. The climax of “On the Other Side of the Door” also showcases the band’s eclectic love of symphonic elements; sky-high riffs climb and weave with throbbing, punchy bass guitar to create spiraling monoliths of intricate, dense sound which puncture the listener’s eardrums like a bullet through paper. The manner with which Cruelty in the Garden are capable of combining heaviness and atmosphere in one fell swoop is nothing short of awe-inspiring and refreshing. In this way, Hidden Reality is truly, for the most part, a gem—it is when the band include long-winded and somewhat repetitive interludes on an already brief EP that they run into trouble, no matter how negligible it may be.
The only slight misstep that stands out in the debut EP by these Polish punishers is that, for a 23 minute EP, nearly five minutes of it is spent on interludes filled with repetitive classical guitar and an overabundance of atmosphere. While the hints and splashes of atmosphere which find their way into the fretwork on “…When the Right Time Comes” and “Eternal Silence” adds an extra layer of immersive and engaging musicianship to the mix, which provide the listener with an almost dream-like experience. On the contrary, the forced levels of calm on “Eternal Silence (Alternate Version)” and the introduction to “Before Tomorrow Had Come” draw the listener out of the EP entirely, causing a sort of disconnect which rears its ugly head in the form of boredom. Ultimately, however, moments like the introduction to “…When the Right Time Comes” and the climactic, symphonic brilliance of “On the Other Side of the Door” vastly outweigh the transient boredom of Hidden Reality’s interlude-and-a-half. The truth is that when the only problem with your EP is that the listener is left with a desire for more music and less filler, you’re doing just about everything right.
When soulful, stunning levels of symphony meet spine-shrinking levels of heaviness—with a penchant for ethereal atmosphere—you get Hidden Reality. Cruelty in the Garden’s debut release is nothing short of an impressive and immersive record with only slight pitfalls that snap the listener out of another wise excellent dream.
For Fans Of: Make Them Suffer, The Bridal Procession, Nexilva
By: Connor Welsh