Review: Shape of Despair “Return to the Void” [Season of Mist]

Review: Shape of Despair “Return to the Void” [Season of Mist]

- in Reviews

Let’s return to a melancholic, desolate landscape, created by this tormented doom metal album. Yes, this is the kind of album that needs to be described with words like “tormented”, “haunted”, “cold”, “atmospheric” and “melancholic”, but it does that kind of sound perfectly.

We are sure of that from the first song, which is also the title track, and uses a slow, heavy, haunting riff throughout the song, as well as melancholic, low female singing and deep, sad male growls. Even as the clean vocals soar above the heavy music, they still don’t make the song more upbeat, just more desperate in its sorrow.

This song is a lesson in melancholic and tormented music. How are the next ones? They keep some of that melancholic doom sound, and have different ideas. “Dissolution” and “Solitary Downfall” both alternate between a soft, cold sound like a mild wind and heavier riffs. “Downfall” also has a sort of echo-like sound on the drums and weird choir-styled vocals, which make the music sound like it’s coming from a distance, and therefore feel more mysterious and wistful. On “Dissolution”, the two vocalists prove that they have the perfect voices, singing and growling, for melancholic doom metal, since both their voices have a low, sort of strange and gloomy tone.

Speaking of the vocals, on this album, Shape of Despair isn’t what you might call a female-fronted band that occasionally uses male growls, or a male-fronted band with occasional female guest vocals, but rather, a band where both the male and female vocalists get an equal share of vocal duties. “Reflection in Slow Times” is introduced by Natalie Koskinen’s gloomy singing and keeps alternating between her voice and Henri Koivula’s. On “Forfeit”, he growls, sometimes with a higher rasp, and sometimes sings, with his light but melancholic voice, most of the lyrics while she vocalizes wordlessly. “The Inner Desolation” does a similar thing, while alternating between sweetness and dark heaviness, between singing and instrumentals, basically summing up all the musical ideas found on this album and making this nearly 12 minute-long track a great conclusion to the album. But on any song, there’s an interesting contrast between the two, and they both have a dark-sounding voice, in their own different ways. The band makes a great use of the opportunities provided by having two singers.

Sure, this album can occasionally feel a little repetitive, and it seems like I’m over-using the kind of words you use to describe doom metal, because in many ways, it’s like many other doom metal albums you’ve already heard. But for what it is, it’s pretty good. It sounds nice, it’s melancholic and moving when it’s trying to be, and it’s the kind of beautiful-sounding music that inspires poetic descriptions. If you let this album entertain you, it will feel like wandering through a desolate, wintery landscape. If you want that kind of sound right now, I highly recommend this album, because it does that melancholic, wintery doom metal style very well.

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