Friday, November 20, 2015

Shape of Despair : " Monotony Fields"

These guys have not come out of nowhere as they have played in bands like Finntroll, Impaled Nazerene and Clouds, this Finnish band has taken the past fifteen years to perfect their very melodic and atmospheric brand of doom . They are rather impressive and this is one of the funereal doom albums that I have been missing out on this year since it came out back in June. The vocals are a low gurgle, with what sounds to be sung female oohing  and aahing in the background. The title track that follows up the eerie opening stays on a similar depressing path. The synths are thick and almost overpowering the guitars , but it all somehow manages to mix. Their is a more melodic melancholy to "Descending Inner Light" . Not that the other stuff isn't melodic , they just step it up with real singing taking over mid way into the song. There is a slight turn into a more Cure like introspection with the intro to " the Distant Dream of Life". The growled vocals are really the heaviest thing on this song as the synths and clean guitar tone cancel out the chugged guitar. The sung vocals slide in smoothly. The vocals remind me a little of Jesu here.

"Withdrawn" carries forth the melodious mourning, almost to the point that if it was not for the hesitation in the drums and the tone of the growls they would fall into more of a dark or gothic metal category instead of funereal doom. They ride the line , but soar fading storm clouds in so doing. The Type o Negative influence is evident in the chorus of backing vocals, though I have yet to hear any low Sisters of Mercy vocals. "In Longing " is the first song to fall out of the previous song and sound more like an extension of it than opening with it's own identity.The swelling intro drones out into the bleak heavens. You can say that they are bi-polar, but like real depression the dynamics of a song like " The Blank Journey" emulate the mood swings that come with a mental illness, soft relaxed keys coast in the morning light before the growls come in and everything swell's into a more emotional high and then dips back down into it's depressed place. The Jesu comparison comes back in the picture as the song rides the gentle crest of the wave in an almost shoe gaze like drone.

The album closes with "Written in My Scars" which finds the growled vocals taking control of the song and a heavier under current overall even when the more melodic singing soars in from overhead. I feel this song fits a little more neatly into the casket of funereal doom. The oppressive feeling is more tangible. The guitar has more weight on this one as well though it might be a slight variation in the mix. The band is aware they have been notorious for putting long spans of time between releases, so everything is right where it should be with every nuance dialed in, so it was not time wasted. I'll round this up to a 10, it might not dig as deep and dark of a grave as other funeral bands , but the songs are masterfully varied and dynamic , it's an awesome album.

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