Shape of Despair

Monotony Fields

Killing-it Fields

dB Rating: 9/10

Release Date: June 15th, 2015
Label: Season of Mist

Finns Shape of Despair waited an eternity to release the follow-up to Illusion’s Play. A good 11 years, in fact. While we’re pretty  certain that funeral doom king Jarno Salomaa wasn’t following the same path as fellow gods Dolorian, Shape of Despair haven’t been terribly active over the last decade. To that end, Monotony Fields could be another average effort, but it’s not. In fact, it crawls back to Shades of… and Angels of Distress, where walls of distortion, crestfallen lines, Lovecraftian vocals, angelic (if acutely morose) passages and waltz-like rhythms play out ever-so-carefully over 10-minute dirges. It sounds boring, but it’s absolutely enthralling.

What’s new about Shape of Despair is that they’ve bumped out lazy-ass Pasi Koskinen and enlisted Henri Koivula (of the criminally overlooked Throes of Dawn), as well as Rapture guitarist Tomi Ullgrén, to fill out Salomaa’s celestial vision. The additions have clearly inspired the songwriter, as Monotony Fields feels like proper (atmospheric) funeral doom. The title track is spectacular. When Natalie Koskinen’s siren sounds, it’s as if the light at the end of the tunnel is real. The realization is vanquished, however, by Salomaa’s subterranean pull to the other side. And it only gets better. Opener “Reaching the Innermost” is a funeral doom classic in the making. Nobody—perhaps outside of the now-defunct Colosseum—writes like this. Despair, longing, reflection, isolation, death, life, all placed to superlative effect throughout. Furthermore, “The Distant Dream of Life” is Rapture in slow motion. Ullgrén’s stamp is all over the intro, and it’s fucking brilliant!

Funeral doom doesn’t get any better than Shape of Despair’s Monotony Fields. The night is sylvan again!

—Chris Dick
Review originally printed in the September 2015 issue (#131).