Garden Wall - Chimica. 1997 Italy

On Chimica, Garden Wall’s 4th album, the band had really progressed to new levels of intensity and intelligence. It wouldn’t be too far out of place to state that Garden Wall are a few branches of further growth from the Semiramis tree, demonstrating their Italian progressive rock heritage. Lead vocalist/guitarist Alessandro Seravalle is truly one of the more creative minds to emerge on the progressive music scene in the last 20 years. He pretty much just marches to his own drummer and could be seen as a genius, or insane, depending on one’s perspective. His vocal style is best described as strange, somewhere between Peter Hammill and a madman (some would argue that’s the same thing). It’s a style that’s very appealing for the chaotic music he and the band create. Keyboardist Mauro Olivo plays almost entirely in counterpoint mode, giving the music a disorienting feel. While Garden Wall always had a heavy streak, Chimica is the album where they leaped whole hog into the metal camp concerning the guitar tone. Which is not to say they are a Dream Theater style prog metal group, not even close. This is real progressive music, in the true sense of the word, not just a genre tag. The 34 minute multi-part opening track ‘Chemotaxis’ goes through many different sections while still maintaining the sense of a whole composition (something that is rare to find in modern bands). For fans of their earlier style, Chimica is seen as an album going in the wrong direction, but since there are plenty of keyboards and acoustic sections, it was passable. For folks like myself who love this kind of creativity while still rocking out, Garden Wall were continuing to progress into new exciting realms. It would be five years until their next album, and not only did they continue to polarize the progressive listening audience, they blew a hole in the universe.

Personal collection
CD: 1997 WMMS / Music is Intelligence (Germany)

Last listen: August 2006

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