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Shape Of Despair - Alone In The Mist

Shape Of Despair
Alone In The Mist
by Shibalika Tamuli at 10 April 2017, 7:01 AM

SHAPE OF DESPAIR is a Finnish Funeral Doom Metal act, with compositions that are lengthy, slow, and with a guitar tone thicker than molasses.  The demo album “Alone in the Mist” was released in 1998.  Back then, the band was known under the name RAVEN, and the fledgling group was a newcomer to the funeral doom scene. SHAPE OF DESPAIR re-released the demo “Alone in the Mist” in December of 2016. Back in 1998 – the same year masterpieces such as GORGUT’s “Obscura” and OPETH’s “My Arms, Your Hearse” were released. Let’s get to the music.

The first track “Down into the Steam” expresses the band’s signature sound.  Toni Mäensivu, on vocals, use death growls that are low and guttural.  The riffs are sorrowful, beautiful keys which give the album a dark, gloomy mood.  Like Salomaa and Ullgren, Natalie performs lilting vocals in various tones throughout the album.  Finally, the rhythmic center of the band was in the hands of Toni Mäensivu, who makes good use of the cymbals throughout “Alone in the Mist.” “To Adorn” follows a similar pattern to the opening track.  “Shadowed Dreams” and “Woundheir” borrow the same recipe, albeit with more featuring of the keyboard. While “To Adorn” brings a sense of familiarity from “Down into the Stream,” “Shadowed Dreams” brings a different approach to the sorrow brought forward by SHAPE OF DESPAIR. Following the good old doom metal tempo, the track feels more depressive than the other tracks. These songs are all at least eight minutes in length, and this is where the album demonstrates its weakness.

“Funeral Doom” is often rugged and a bit repetitive, and that’s the vibe that’s felt here.  There’s not quite enough variation to make it interesting.  This is something that SHAPE OF DESPAIR addresses on subsequent albums, but it’s a notch against the band on “Alone in the Mist”.  “…In the Mist” is the strongest song on the record, hands down.  The keys have a delightful melody running throughout this monolith of crushing sound, and the vocals are torturing. Overall, the remastering on “Alone in the Mist” is adequate. The album gets better and better the longer into the album, we reach. "Outro" (which oddly enough is the outro of the album) is, in spite of the fact that it is actually not a real number, the best and most atmospheric on the album. The production on the album is quite fine, considering that it is a demo. But when republishing it as the album, expecting more of the mix. The guitar especially is too far away in the mix. “Alone in the Mist” hits all the right notes. Its slow, depressive nature melds well with Henri Koivula’s low, dragging vocals, almost dragging you down with him on a sorrowful journey. An issue of familiarity is present, however, with some of the tracks sounding quite similar to one another, and making the record feel somewhat repetitive. Even for funeral doom, it almost drags in places, which is a shame as, in terms of musicianship and a display of a band knowing what sound they want to create, it’s fantastic. “Alone in the Mist” is just missing something that makes it stand out against the crowd, perhaps a new riff pattern or a different use of vocals, just to make a change in the record. A couple of the songs may not be as memorable as the others, but that doesn’t stop it from being a good record. If you’re a fan of cold, slow riffs and vocals that wrench at your emotions, pick up this record, close off, and immerse yourself into a new offering from SHAPE OF DESPAIR.

Songwriting : 6
Originality : 6
Memorability : 5
Production : 6

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Down into the Stream
2. To Adorn
3. Shadowed Dreams
4. Woundheir
5. …In the Mist
Lineup:
Tomi Ullgren - Bass
Jarno Saloma - Guitars, Keys
Natalie Koskinen - Female vocals
Sami Uusitalo - Bass
Tony Maensivu - Vocals
Daniel Neagoe - Drums
Record Label: Season Of Mist Records
     


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