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A Band That Lives Up to Their Name - 86%

CrimsonFloyd, March 15th, 2004

Form the cold depths of Finland comes the best thing funeral doom has to offer, Shape of Despair. Shape of Despair shares all the same elements as their fellow funeral doomsters, however they have managed to form the typical funeral doom template into something much bigger and stronger. Shape of Despair manages to create a thick, monstrous wall of sound crushing the listener with gargantuan riffs layered with lush keyboards and female vocals. The atmosphere this creates is incomparable. One can feel the sheer power of loneliness and loss of hope crawl up upon them when listening to this album. Shape of Despair never seems to fail to find extremely interesting riffs, something many funeral doom bands struggle with. Even more then in other styles of metal, the ability to come up with intriguing riffs is crucial to funeral doom, as the riffs are repeated for extended amounts of time. The band is also phenomenal songwriters, as each song has its own unique structure, and each song manages to take the listener on a different journey into the dark depths of the mind. The loss and pain represented here, is far beyond that of loss of a lover or any other everyday pains. It’s a pain reserved for only the purest of suffering.
This album truly contains several of the greatest funeral doom songs ever created. The first song, “Fallen” starts with some dark haunting synths giving the feeling of being on the brink of a very dark world. The listener is then pulled into the world with one brutal growl followed by the first hopeless, crushing riffs. The song moves first through a movement of female vocals, and then one verse of aggressive growls. By the end of the song there’s no question why this band is called Shape of Despair. The title track slowly builds up from a clean guitar and a dreary drum beat to a powerful wall of female vocals, thick riffs, keyboards and violins. The listener is overcome with a feeling of loss as they re confronted with such a phenomenal amount of sorrow all at once. Still there is a fury in the monstrous growls and demolishing riffs that show the anger and frustration that have been caused by this inescapable depression. This song truly captures the essence of what funeral doom is supposed to make the listener feel.
The next is another one of the most phenomenal funeral doom songs ever created, “Quite These Paintings Are”. The song starts out with three minutes of delicate pianos and synths playing a tragic melody of loss. The same feeling is carried over as the crushing agony of loss is brought back as the full band kicks into action, with another tragic dirge. The song then lets up on the constant depression, entering a beautiful, lush, ambient movement only to be pulled into another furious burst of melancholy. This process is repeated one more time. It’s as if one can’t leave this depression no matter how hard they try, they are forever trapped in this abyss. The next song, “To Live For My Death” starts with a very long haunting synth intro, which is followed by some beautiful choir-like clean vocals over but yet another tragic, hopeless riff of loss. The growls eventually come in and the clean vocals just feed into the many layers creating the wall of sound behind the growls. The song then goes through some long keyboard led progressions, which actually show perhaps a slight glimmer of hope, but yet the song ends with the first tragic riff taking over once again. The final track, “Morning Dew” is quit the change up. This instrumental alternates between dark haunting synths to *gasp* a mid paced, semi upbeat riff. This song seems to give the listener a slight feeling of hope, hidden within this world of loss.
With this Shape of Despair’s second album, the band has clearly placed themselves at the forefront of the funeral doom scene. Their uncanny ability to surround the listener with pure walls of emotion is incomparable to anyone else in the genre. No other funeral doom has managed to place these dark emotions as far out in the forefront as Shape of Despair. Whenever people enter my room when I’m listening to this album, a comment is made on how scary, dark, or sad their music is, even by those who usually ignore most of my other metal. This is a tribute to the power Shape of Despair has managed place onto this album.