A decade has passed since the long-running Finnish funeral doom band Shape of Despair released their last album, 2004’s Illusion’s Play. Finally, they have emerged again with a new full-length work entitled Monotony Fields, which will be released by Season of Mist on June 16 in North America. The title track has already premiered at Decibel, and now we bring you another — “Descending Inner Night”.
The band have commented as follows about this new song:
“We have played this song under its working title ‘Unresolved’ only in the Ukraine and Russia so far. To complement the existing live recordings, we are now presenting the album version ‘Descending Inner Night’. This was the second track that emerged for the new album and combines both the old and new elements of Shape of Despair.”
The eerie ambient tones at the song’s beginning, which resemble something like the quivering of aching alien bells, begin the preparation for what follows — and what follows is staggeringly powerful, a slow but complete collapse into an abyss of misery.
Perhaps in some parallel universe there are riffs heavier than these, but you’ll be hard pressed to find more titanic ones in our world. They and the accompanying drum strikes come down with earth-splitting force, like an avalanche in slow motion. And as the earth splits wide, Henri Koivula’s cavernous vocals well up from a dark and deep crevasse, heartless and ice-cold.
Yet the strength of funeral doom is rooted in more than the power of crushing low frequencies delivered at a glacial pace or the horrors of an abyssal voice. Equally important is the delivery of melody, and here Shape of Despair have created the kind of melody that builds an atmosphere of utter loss — yet it is also sublime. And the beauty in this very bleak soundscape is attributable as much to the sombre but striking voice of Natalie Koskinen as it is to the heart-aching instrumental music.
This is the kind of wrenching but memorable music that dismantles your emotional well-being, yet casts a mesmerizing alabaster gleam on the dark shades of despair and mourning. Crushing and entrancing… and yes, strikingly beautiful.
Monotony Fields can be pre-ordered here. For more information, visit these pages: