MUZIC.NET.NZ - Album Review
27 DEC 2013 // A REVIEW BY ASMITH
This is the debut album from West Auckland four piece Blackleaf Gardens, and what a debut it is.
All too often I find myself being asked to listen to music and I can't help but hear that one specific musical influence cutting through like a cold shower, this is not one of those albums.
Blackleaf Gardens describe themselves as a Progressive Metal band, and the range of influences you will hear throughout this album is rather outstanding in itself, this is the sound you get when a vast plethora of musical influences get thrown into a great big melting pot and are given to talented metal musicians to play with, and they nailed it.
These guys have worked hard at their trade and it has paid off, from ambient noise to melodic riffery to brutal chugging there is something for most metal fans, they weren't BOTB grand finalists for nothing.
If you want simplistic music with no variation in techniques go look somewhere else, every member of the band gets to showcase an array of talents throughout this album, and these guys are not one trick ponies so if you get bored easily this is potentially the album for you.
I now have another band on my list of “who to see live” and if this album is anything to go by it should be one hell of a show, I'll see you there!
MUZIC.NET.NZ - Live Review
07 JAN 2014 // A REVIEW BY EPITOMISED_DRUMMER
As someone who had never really heard of Blackleaf Gardensbefore, I was really not sure what to expect when I got invited to their latest album release party. I decided not to do any research on them as an artist before heading along to the gig and to let their album release party give me the very first impression of the band. I had a look around at the crowd, and thought to myself, this isn't your typical rock gig - not the usual crowd of black jean and t-shirt wearing rockers with a chain hanging off their back pocket - the crowd seemed edgier.
After asking a few people around the room what they thought of Blackleaf Gardens, I got a few "yeah they're great" and
"totally awesome bro" responses, which I was expecting - but no-one really wanted to elaborate, but then they started to play ... Wow .. heavy and thick guitar riffs, but not your typical 'I wish I was in Pantera' riffs - these guys are quite unique.
Their sound is big, and quirky, and their drummer is quite honestly brutal. Offbeat grooves, nice deep bass tones, and dissonant guitar tones. I was waiting for some more melodic vocals, however I really started to understand the more I listened to them that this isn't where Blackleaf Gardens were heading with their sound, and the more I listened, the more the sound amalgamated together into something very distinctly unique. To be fair, I couldn't even start to compare them to anybody else.
In general to sum it up, if you are a musician, or you appreciate your instrument, you have to see these guys play live. The utilisation of unusual guitar chords, the deep tone of a 6 string bass, and using a small drumkit to reproduce the sound of a very bit drumkit are a big thumbs up. Check out Blackleaf Gardens for hard rock/metal with a unique twist.
METAL TEMPLE - Album Review
Key To Infinity
by Bex "Hardcore" Tasker at 16 January 2014, 2:51 PM
BLACKLEAF GARDENS have been making a huge name for themselves in the New Zealand Metal scene in recent years. Formed in 2011, the four piece have already released one EP, toured the country, were the winners of the Keep It Live & Loud competition in 2012, and were grand finalists of the 2013 National Battle of the Bands. The end of 2013 saw the release of the Progressive Metal band’s debut album, entitled“Key To Infinity”. The 9-track creation consists of catchy riffs, diverse vocals and groovy melodies, thanks to the talents of vocalist Mike Gee, guitarist Bill Rootes, bassist Jess Reeves and drummer Matt Grossman. Check it out, Metal fiends of the world.
The track lengths range between 3 minutes 55 seconds and 10 minutes 40 seconds, the majority being on the long side, promoting maximum metal merriment. Opening track “Ambience of Autumn” kicks off with some peaceful nature sounds, accompanied by melodic guitar. After nearly a minute, the vocals, drums, bass and distortion guitar break their way through, bringing some heavy riffs and beats into the mix. Gee’s vocals range from smooth cleans to hostile growls – suggesting autumn may not be quite so ambient after all. Track number two,” Green Goliath”, begins with a funky intro, before becoming extremely distorted. The vocals are different again, and pretty creepy, made even more so by the echo effect added to them. Reeves chucks in some awesome bass solos to make things even groovier, whilst Roote’s riffs keeps things brutal. Next up in “Remnants” we have some more melodic guitar to kick things off, giving things a nostalgic mood. AgainGee’s vocal diversity is an impressive component, but by no means the only noteworthy element – Grossman’s drumming contributes greatly to the funk, as does Reeve’s bass. “Experiment” changes things up, starting off extremely heavy -complete with growls, doublekick and distortion – and remaining that way for the entirety of the song. That is, until the end of the fifth minute, where the melodic guitar makes a comeback, and Gee recounts what sounds like a satanic nursery rhyme. The track to follow is on the mellow side: “427 Pt. I (Chapter Zero)” is groovy, melodic and perfect for a reflective mood, that is, until the song progresses and things get fierce. BLACKLEAF GARDENS have a habit of shaking things up.
The sequel to the previous track is another bipolar one, going from manic to mellow within seconds. Entitled “427 Pt. II (Blackleaf Gardens)”, the 10 minute 40 second number is as vast in power as it is in length. There’s some awesome shredding by Rootes, and Reeves brings forth the majestic power of the bass once again. “Vicious Garden” is one of the shorter tracks, and is quite a pleasant slow song, despite its disconcerting name. Gee’s vocals are lovely, for lack of a better word, and the instrumentation is superb. In true BLACKLEAF GARDENS fashion, the track has a drastic mood swing and briefly becomes aggressive and distorted. The second last track – “Chemical Thirteen” highlights the drums in the introduction, allowing Grossman to show off his versatile abilities. His talents go nicely with the skills of Reeves and Rootes, and Gee’s unpredictable vocals. The final track kicks off with subtle bass, which becomes contrasted by distortion guitar.“Visual Echo” is an appropriate end to the album, a solid track that reminds the listener that BLACKLEAF GARDENS are a force not to be reckoned with, and a band with great things ahead of them.
A Metal Temple Score 9 out of 10!