Exposé Online banner

Garden Wall — The Seduction of Madness
(Music Is Intelligence WMMS 080, 1995, CD)

by Mike McLatchey, 1996-08-01:

The Seduction of Madness Cover art Now here's a band who has made some serious progress. From listening to Principium or Path of Dreams, there's no way of telling that they would have made this much of a step up. Yes, Garden Wall have arrived in a big way; this is not only WMMS's best new release probably ever, but it's also one of the finest new Italian releases in the last 10 years, rating up with Ezra Winston or Deus Ex Machina. This is an interesting one from my critical standpoint as its so overwhelmingly high quality that even characteristics that would bury many other tone-similar albums can be overlooked. For instance, I don't think I can get used to the vocals — the Peter Hammill/Fish sound with the Italian accent is just a bit too "neo-prog" sounding for my tastes. Nevertheless, the balance between vocals and instrumentals is much in the favor of the latter so it's not often that the hysterics get in the way. Also the heavy metal tones on the guitar and drums (lots of double bass) usually would bother me as they're quite cliché, yet they're so expertly played its almost irrelevant. The constant creativity throughout this is astonishing at times and most importantly they keep the excitement level way up. Progressive rock albums like this are unfortunately too few and far in between. They show that creativity is far more important than tones, digital or analog, as long as there is some research involved.

by Mike Grimes, 1996-08-01:

When I first heard the name "Garden Wall," I thought, "This band must be another one of those Genesis influenced bands." Well, after listening to the CD, I wonder if they've ever even heard of Genesis! Garden Wall hurls music at you with a powerful sound that more closely resembles Dream Theater, King Crimson, and Happy Family than anything else — plus Genesis would never start off an album with a primal scream. The vocal sections of the album are broken up nicely with several long instrumental passages, most of which are in odd meter. The hectic, frantic, frenzied pace of some of these instrumental sections is the basis for the Happy Family comparison. The heavy guitar, mostly at full volume run through a harmonizer stomp box, and solo keys give some tunes that Dream Theater flavor. The abundance of the tritones and polyrhythms, many of which are way cool, bring King Crimson to mind. All the musicians display more than adequate chops, but the drumming is the most interesting aspect musically. The shrieking vocals can be a bit over the top in places, but the instrumental parts make up for that. Although not credited on the album, I suspect that the infamous Big Gulp is the featured guest howler on the grungiest outcries... or maybe it's Lemmy?

by Jeff Melton, 1996-08-01:

I'm not certain if this band is named from the lyric of Genesis' "I Know What I Like," but that could begin to explain the myriad of styles the band employs. Garden Wall has a metalish rhythm section and mentality: lots of syncopated rhythms where bass, guitars, and drums are pummeling a rhythm to death, then throw in some quick switchovers to another time signature. Not the best organized songs I've heard, but then that's not the complete story either. Vocalist Allesandro Seravalle is borderline annoying at times — he seems to be trying too hard to draw attention to himself. He uses an operatic style, with mock British quirkiness which gets to be irritable very quickly. But there are some good things to speak up for as well: Mauro Olivo renders some very tasty keyboards: there is a lot more upfront, piano and synths than your average progressive metal group. The song arrangements are good too in particular all the instrumental tracks are the best ones to check out ("W8less," parts of "The Doll"). This disc is a grab bag of styles, and attitude: like pureeing Dream Theater with some fusion and old 70s progressive peculiarities. Pouring the sludge out and slurping it up, I noticed that the songs with vocals seem to be missing some heart and depth, although they are technically played well. The title track is a bit too grandiose for me, but does have some good head-banging rhythms for those of you with strong necks! In live performance, it would be very hard to imagine if the band would be a bit over the top in their execution (i.e. Kalaban ) or if some restraint could add poise to a potentially exciting show. It does grow on you though!

by Peter Thelen, 1996-08-01:

One might ask how Garden Wall could possibly top their previous album, Path of Dreams from 1994. This writer was initially skeptical about that possibility, but after a few listens to this latest disc, all doubts were quickly put to rest. Whereas the previous disc was just vocalist/guitarist Alessandro Seravalle and keyboardist/flautist Mauro Olivo, with a guest drummer, this current edition of the band seems to be a working four-piece, the two aforementioned augmented by a regular bassist and drummer. Their style has come forward to meet a more hard-edged and complexity-laden rock, each song an evolving odyssey of continually changing ideas. Some may take exception to Seravalle's voice, his throaty over-the-edge Hammill-esque vocal contortions permeating all but three of the album's ten tracks. Yet it's a voice that one can certainly learn to live with, especially given the level of the compositions and musicianship displayed herein, and the fact that the musicians are given plenty of room to stretch out. "Le Chateau Fou" pulls out some tasty folk influences, while the protracted intro on "The Doll" sets the stage for some tasty and engaging hard rock that often hints of an earlier era. But the album's confirmed smoker has to be "W8less," a fast and furious over-the-top blitzkrieg of unrepentant driving prog. Even the three instrumentals "Pornopazzia," "All the Best Years," and "Blurp," while not as lengthy, merit mention as well. No filler here, not an ounce of fat anywhere on the album. Because of this, it may take a few listens to get comfortable with, but then again isn't that the case with most great records. Highly recommended.

Filed under: New releases , Issue 10 , 1995 releases

Related artist(s): Garden Wall

More info

Latest news

2017-07-27
Yestival Dates Beef up the Beat – Word reaches us that Dylan Howe (son of guitarist Steve Howe) will be joining Yes on their "Yestival" tour, drumming alongside longtime band member Alan White. » Read more

2017-05-19
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more

2017-05-05
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more

2017-05-02
Col. Bruce Hampton RIP – The phrase "He died doing what he loved" is almost a cliche, but in the case of Col. Bruce Hampton, it couldn't be more true. Hampton, who was born Gustav Berglund III, collapsed on stage at his own 70th birthday celebration and later passed away. The event took place at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. » Read more

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Andy Timmons Band - Resolution – Andy Timmons is a guitarist along the lines of Steve Vai, Eric Johnson, and Joe Satriani, though to my ear maybe a little more enjoyable because of the variety of styles he covers. His technique is...  (2007) » Read more

The Mars Volta - De-loused in the Comatorium – The Mars Volta, on their full-length debut, joins Radiohead as a relatively high profile “alternative rock” group to flirt with progressive elements, and in fact does Radiohead one better (to the...  (2003) » Read more

Thriving Ivory - Thriving Ivory – It’s been quite sometime since a solo pianist was credited as an alternative rock band’s key instrument replacing loud, overdriven guitars. Such is the case for Thriving Ivory is a five-piece...  (2004) » Read more

Yeti Rain - Discarnate – It doesn’t take more than one look at the booklet cover and about 15 seconds of the first piece to know this isn’t like anything else that Unicorn has put out before; nor is it like any of the...  (2008) » Read more

Spaced Out - Evolution – After numerous releases sticking pretty close to a singular style, this appropriately titled latest studio release by the band shows them trying out some new directions, while still maintaining close...  (2009) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues