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This Isn't Funeral Doom...But It's Still Good! - 85%

Diabolical_Vengeance, November 8th, 2004

Shape of Despair have always been a band that have suffered from mis-labelling. I've always heard them referred to as Funeral Doom. Now, when I think of Funeral Doom the first bands that come to mind are bands like Worship, Thergothon and Skepticism. All of these bands, and all the Funeral Doom bands I'm aware of, are endowed with a heavy sense of nihilism to their music and/or lyrics. Shape of Despair's music, while slow (what Doom isn't?) to me lacks the inherent nihilism of Funeral Doom. Their use of keyboards, flutes, clean and female vocals all contradict this.

Which brings us to their new album, Illusion's Play. To be honest, I had no
inkling this band was even working on an album and its release came as a suprise to me. Although Angel of Distress was one of my favourite albums of 2001, it has never left me yearning for a new album from these Finns. This album is very similar to their previous effort, Angel of Distress. They Keyboards carry the bulk of the melody, the guitars relegated mainly (though not always) to the background and the drumming is rather nondescript, which is the norm in Doom unfortunately. The vocals alternate between death grunts and clean vocals (both male and female). Much like Angel of Distress, one track flows into another seamlessly, without looking at the track index on my CD player I have no way of knowing what song is actually playing. Much like Angel, this album is best taken into account as a cohesive whole, rather than a series of separate songs.

The Keyboards are really what made Angel of Distress and this album stand-out. They help convey a truly ethereal atmosphere that I cannot readily compare to any band. Its like floating among the clouds on a cold, wintery night. This is a great album to just let yourself drift away to.

I recommend this album to anyone who liked any of this bands previous output (especially Angel of Distress) or for anyone looking for really drifting,
atmospheric Metal.