Produced by Greg Chandler and Hanging Doll. Assistant Engineer Alex Cooper. Recorded at Priory Studios, Sutton Coldfield and Madhouse Recording Studios, Birmingham between 2006–2008. All songs written by Hanging Doll.
I often wonder why I insist on spending an entire week trying to ‘get inside’ each album I listen to. I play it to death via headphones on my phone, or on my PC at home and work, or in the car. In truth, most of the time, the opinion that I make on my first listen through rarely changes. I suppose I want to give the artists a fair run: after all, they have taken the time and effort to write and record these songs, the least I can do is listen to it more than once.
Hanging Doll join the long list of UK bands that hail from Birmingham, arguably one of the birthplaces of UK heavy metal (Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Napalm Death, anyone?). Wikipedia describes them as “a British orchestral gothic metal band”. They are gothic in the vein of Within Temptation and Evanescence rather than Paradise Lost or Danzig.
While you can’t deny that vocalist Sally Holliday has a good voice, I do find the songs really a bit over the top. There is only so much drama you can handle in one album: real life simply isn’t an opera!
The album opens with a church bell. Of course! Could it be a gothic album, otherwise? (Yes, yes it could.) And then a rather pretty piano arpeggio, which sounds like it’s being played in a graveyard.
This sieges into “Blood ridden skies” an atmospheric song that twists and weaves, builds and falls. It has everything you might want from a gothic metal song: piano, orchestra, stabbing chords, growls, melody, angst, pain and beauty. It’s not a bad song, to be honest.
The next couple of songs, “Hope springs eternal” and “Sweet retribution” I found a bit tedious, to be honest. The vocal melody in both songs pretty much sums up what I don’t like in a song.
“Echoes of sorrow” builds from a clean guitar arpeggio, in the style of Pantera’s “Cemetery Gates”. It’s not a bad song, even if it does get a bit OTT and melodramatic towards the end.
And that about sums up the rest of the album for me. There are moments of real beauty, and the playing is superb but these musical ideas are packaged and decorated in a way that just doesn’t make sense to me. It doesn’t touch me, it doesn’t move me, it doesn’t excite me.
But… I can appreciate why some people might enjoy this. If you like your metal served with black lace, dark eyeliner, and with spoonfuls of over-the-top emotion then I could whole heartedly recommend Hanging Doll.
For me, though, this is very much my cup of tea. And I don’t drink tea.
Review score: 55%