Nattskog, the man behind Garden of Eyes, is an incredibly prolific one-man Black/Death/Noise Metal making machine. In addition to Garden of Eyes, Nattskog has involved himself in no less than six other active projects, only one of which (Violés par les Cygnes) has another member. The subject matter he writes about includes nature, death, disease, war, loss, and mental illness, among other things. The common theme, however, is horror. Specifically, Lovecraftian horror, and in the case of Garden of Eyes his music is based on the Bloodborne mythos. For those unfamiliar, Bloodborne is a popular video game with ties to H.P. Lovecraft, ancient mythology, and epic fantasy.
[To be entirely forthright, I am a greatest hits Lovecraft reader at best, and what little I know about Bloodborne came from a single article about the game and how it relates to mythology and philosophy. I know enough to be a little dangerous, but I’d get my ass handed to me on Trivia Night. If you are in the same boat, and would like to learn a bit more, here is a link to that article. It’s quite fascinating:
Brutal Death Metal and Lovecraftian literature go together like tacos and Tuesdays. I learned this a little earlier in the year after having the opportunity to speak with another highly productive, horror-loving Metalhead named Justin Vølus, whose latest project (Vølus) was the first thing I thought of after hearing the opening minutes of “Nightmare Apostle” from Garden of Eyes “Arcane Haze” EP. By extension then, I thought of bands like Portal, Gorguts, and Defeated Sanity.
Nattskog’s work here is less experimental than Portal, less technical than Defeated Sanity, and less straightforwardly melodic than Gorguts, which helps Garden of Eyes stand out as a project with a great deal of unfeigned creativity. “Celestial Larvae” and “Slime Scholar” share a sense of putridity not unlike the nastiest examples of extreme gore-themed Metal, but what I really enjoy about them is their DIY aesthetic. The title track is not different, though there’s a super cool Black Sabbath vibe in the main riff, which ties the EP together nicely and makes you want to start it over again. (I should mention that “Brainsucker” and “Celestial Minions” from Garden of Eyes’ 2019 Demo are included at the end of “Arcane Haze”. These are enjoyable tunes, but they don’t necessarily flow well with the others. For that reason, I think it serves the EP best to consider them bonus tracks.)
“Fetid. Rotted. Cursed” was released in June this year, and has Nattskog listed as providing “Swampriffs, Grunts, and Blastbeats”, which is a valuable description. The word “swampriff” in particular, I think, conjures up the perfect image of what Garden of Eyes sounds like.
The three songs presented here (the aptly titled “Fetid Offering”, “Rotted Offering”, and “Cursed Offering”) are much crustier and slacken than the songs on “Arcane Haze”, which is a fantastic development. Each are well-constructed examples Death Metal at its gnarliest, and shows a marked advancement in both viciousness and form. Another interesting aspect of the demo, I think, is how much having listened to “Arcane Haze” helped me appreciate the subtleties incorporated in these songs. Each of these releases are unique, but also share the same feeling of comfort that comes from hearing something genuine.
Nattskog is clearly a very talented musician, and I am looking forward to listening as he evolves as an artist.
“Arcane Haze” – 3.5/5
“Fetid. Rotted. Cursed” – 4/5