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Mixed Emotion - 91%

ImTheMosaic, June 23rd, 2008

I came to this album not being a fan of funeral doom, though I do enjoy the “prototypical” brooding doom bands such as early Katatonia and Anathema, and My Dying Bride. I only recently discovered Shape of Despair, and this album seemed noteworthy, so I gave it a listen.

Good gods! “…In The Mist” is an appropriate opener track, and it propels the listener into the rhythm and aesthetic that is maintained throughout the album. Indeed, funeral doom pushes for hypnosis and repetition, and this album begins in that vein. Occasional, ethereal synths background the drifting, hypnotic riffs. The tempo never changes – a very slow rhythm with a minimal use of drums at all, which is fitting for the overall aesthetic. The vocalist’s expression of torture is immense…he reminds me of a bear growling in perpetual torment. Though I find it hard to stomach the low, guttural vocals of this genre, the vocalist’s style is somehow convincing. He knows when to leave the songs instrumental, also, so the vocals never get tiring.

“Woundheir,” perhaps my favorite track, continues the musical theme. Indeed, the song structures vary only slightly, and the entire album does sound like one drawn out symphony. In this song, as well as the first track, there is a sense of progression that reels you in… your ears are damn curious to see where the melody will lead. Rather than leading to breakdowns or crescendos, there is a gradual layering of keyboard tracks onto the melody, adding an angelic and beautiful counterpart to the vocalist’s daimonic torment. Female vocals, panned and slightly echoed, suddenly appear, and they complement the songs perfectly. The songs drift away as the female vocals continue to reverberate, and it seems as though the tracks have no need to end, but will simply drift indefinitely…

The rest of the songs continue this theme. I first listened to this while sitting at a bus stop idly watching vehicles pass by, and suddenly, by the middle of the album, I tuned everything out and was completely absorbed in this album. The melodies floated through my head throughout the day. Simply heartwrenching, sorrowful, and beautiful. A rare gem among the countless bands attempting to express gloom.