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Worth the wait... - 85%

metalbeast_42, April 4th, 2011

This ep is something that I have been awaiting for quite sometime, as it was preceded by almost 2 years of silence from one of my favorite (if not, absolute favorite) doom metal bands. Shape of Despair, to me, is a band that transcends the genres of doom, doom death, funeral doom, and atmospheric doom. They are incredibly accessible for a member of the funeral doom genre, yet that in no way sells them short, as they compose some of the most beautiful sonic tapestries of longing, remorse, and crushing depression.
If one is unfamiliar with this band, I could honestly see this ep as a good jumping off point, as it is not nearly as daunting as their other albums that clock in at over an hour, with songs that last anywhere from 6 to 20 minutes. This aspect also happens to be the ep's greatest weakness. It's so fucking short. I fully understand this is not a full length, but I would have even taken an instrumental filler to make this short auditory adventure last just a wee bit longer. The incredibly short length is the ONLY reason why I did not give this disc a 100.
The two songs that are represented on this vinyl are incredible. It truly emits the exact atmosphere we have come to expect from these Finnish doom titans. Dark, ethereal, and foreboding, "Written In My Scars" begs the listener to simply lay down, forgo the busy modern world that has enraptured them, and sink into a beautiful and chilling abyss of sadness and self loathing.
Both tracks are traditional Shape of Despair, with slow drumming, ambient keys, slow to midpaced riffing, and agonized guttural vocals that groan and monologue tales of utter hatred for existence. Specifically "The Bliss of Sudden Loss" I think should be considered one of the best songs this band has written to date. The lead riff that introduces, and bids farewell to this chunk of heavy doom is so beautiful and haunting. Whereas the first track is totally awesome, it would fit right in on "Illusion's Play" and I think it's very important that each Shape of Despair album have a distinct feeling to it. "The Bliss of Sudden Loss" achieves this distinct feeling, where I believe it stands apart from their discography.
Bottom line: Buy this as soon as you can, if you have any interest in the doom genre, or Shape of Despair. The short length is a downside, but the quality of what IS here is enough to overshadow it. This will destroy you for the short time it plays... and leave you wanting so much more.

Shape of Despair - Written in My Scars - 65%

ThrashManiacAYD, December 29th, 2010

This stop-gap two-song 7" EP from Finnish funereal doomsters Shape of Despair here serves as an awakening of the cult act who released their third and last album in 2004. Now, don't get me wrong as I absolutely love my doom and am favourable to my fair share of death/doom and funeral doom (for whatever the difference might be), but that more extreme end of the doom tree takes a lot to get me frothing at the mouth in excitement and as I'm not privy to the joys (or despair?) of SoD's previous albums but come armed with the knowledge that Ahab have significantly raised the bar in this world with their two monolithic masterpieces, "Written In My Scars" feels distinctly more average.

Neither track lacks the emotional heart-wrenching feel that defines this genre, with the prerequisite plodding speed at the forefront of the band's heavily atmospheric sound. The title-track which opens takes some time to emerge from the shadows and ends up sounding simply 100% wintery Finnish doom - think Skepticism, or Thergothon, but with better production, a sound as 'love it or hate it' as can be imagined in all of music. "The Bliss Of Sudden Loss" is that bit more dynamic and consequently the better of the two through daring to deviate from the static procession while the conjuration of the song's misery is more the work of guitars than keys, a plus in my book where 'atmospheric' synth can at times be too easy to create for bands of any nature. Had this prolonged into a full-length the boredom factor could have settled in but at 12 minutes "Written In My Scars" at least does not overstay it's welcome and is a nice solid display of portentous deathly doom, if not much else.

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