Finnish doom metal outfit, SHAPE OF DESPAIR, have returned with a new record, entitled Alone in The Mist. The record, based on an unpublished demo of the same name, follows their 2015 release Monotony Fields. With a seemingly more frequent schedule of releases, how does Alone in The Mist fare up, and does it manage to stand out in such a currently popular sub-genre?
You’re entered into the record with Down into The Stream; a track which entrances you in a slow and heavy riff pattern before a haunting growl from Henri Koivula ruptures through and drummer Daniel Neagoe picks up. Right off the bat, you pick up that SHAPE OF DESPAIR haven’t lost their beautifully sorrowful sound. As the track picks up tempo (albeit slightly), Henri Koivula delivers with vocals while Jarno Salomaa and Tomi Ullgren lull you into a repetitive, melancholic trance on guitar. At eight and a half minutes long, one could argue that it’s possibly a tad too long, but if you immerse yourself into it properly, it’s pleasant.
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, with less emphasis on heavy, crunching riffs, and more on drums and string instruments. This is a welcome addition to the record, and even sounds somewhat uplifting in places, giving the listener a variety of emotions to explore.
Emotionally, 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.
As opposed to each track standing out and making it its own, the record in its entirety feels like a single track, making it drag somewhat and make less of an impact that expected. When compared to Monotony Fields, it doesn’t quite have the same finesse or layers to it. While some may argue that Alone in the Mist is more raw and emotional (which is indeed correct), it doesn’t hit quite as hard as its predecessor. This doesn’t make Alone in the Mist a bad record by any means, as there are moments in the record where it truly shines. As mentioned before, To Adorn brings a mix of emotions to the table instead of stereotypical grief and despair, and Down into the Stream brings you into the record perfectly. Outro is a beautiful, subtle end to a riff-laden record that still manages to pull on the heartstrings in the most beautiful fashion.
Alone in the Mist by SHAPE OF DESPAIR ticks all the boxes of a good doom metal record, but doesn’t quite make much of an impact. That said, while the sub-genre isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, those who appreciate and are fans of doom will very much welcome Alone in the Mist into their collection with open arms. 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.
Alone in the Mist is set for release on December 9th via Season of Mist.
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