Shape of Despair
Angels of Distress


4.0
excellent

Review

by rasputin USER (196 Reviews)
December 12th, 2007 | 105 replies


Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A dark and brooding piece of atmospheric doom metal.

Doom metal is a very sensitive genre to dabble in, and in many cases can be done very badly. A lot of doom albums rely on a choking atmosphere that drowns you in darkness and chaos, and creating this sense of emotion can be very difficult. I’ve listened to quite a few doom albums, and very rarely have I found doom metal that is as well done as Shape of Despair’s Angels of Distress. It is funeral doom at its best; solemn, nightmarish and extremely dark. The music has weight; you can almost feel it.

Musically Angels of Distress is very complex. Very much unlike raw and stripped doom, such as Last CD Before Doomsday by Worship, Angels of Distress is a layered and involving composition, utilising conventional metal instruments such as guitars and drums, along with keyboards, female vocals and orchestrated instruments. The entire album moves along at a slow pace, with several climatic moments, which are then laced through and through with ethereal passages that give the album it’s dreamy, almost heavenly feel. However, I use heavenly in the loosest possible sense, as it is not the best adjective to use in context with Angels of Distress. Words like foreboding, chaotic, or sorrowful, are far more appropriate.

As mentioned before, the album contains a large variety of instruments which allow for an incredible listening experience. For example, the beginning of the third track, ‘Quiet the Paintings Are’, is a melancholic piano accompanied by the usual orchestra of violins etc. Such sections are common in the album, and make it the perfect album to put on, close your eyes, and fall into your own mind. A lot of doom metal fanatics might be put off this album due to the lack of emphasis on the guitars, but I think that the way Angels of Distress is constructed is excellent. The guitars are simple, and merely back the keyboards and orchestrated instruments. There are occasions where they take the lead, but generally are pushed down in the mix. The drums are also very simple, and very slow. There is not much technicality in the album, besides the composition. Overall, the Finnish group create an excellent atmosphere, which does not show any signs of weakness.

The reason why the album is so layered and involving may be in part due to the fact that album has 6 members plus additional members, all of which play very different instruments.

Pasi Koskinen – Harsh Vocals
Natalie Koskinen – Clean Vocals
Jarno Salomaa – Guitars, keyboards
Tom Ullgren – Guitars
Sami Uusitalo – Bass
Samu Ruotsalainen – Drums
And on this album,
Toni Raehalme – Violin

Each member, even the session violinist, holds their weight and makes significant contribution to the album. No single member dominates, rather they all come together to create a cohesive and strong doom album. The production on the album is also very excellent, which would be required for such complex music. It all sounds very clear and clean, the distortion is not messy, and each instrument sounds very good. The vocals are also very well done, and sound brilliant in some part due to the production.

The two separate vocalists make the album, and band, very diverse, and both vocalists are excellent at what they do. I think they are related, due to the same last name, but Pasi does the harsh vocals and Natalie does the clean. It’s quite common in doom metal for the harsh vocals to be used more than the clean, but this is not really the case for Angels of Distress; both vocalists get a fair share of the vocals. Pasi does deep growls which in many instances are quite layered. This creates a great effect though, and the vocals sound very evil. These are then contrasted by Natalie who simply has a beautiful voice. It oozes with melody, and is perfect for the melancholic moments on the album.

Overall, the album is very well made, and creates an excellent atmosphere for anyone who has the patience to listen to it. This is a hindrance to the album however. Being funeral doom, it takes a lot of patience and willingness to get through the entire thing. If you’re a fan, it’s not so much a problem, I relish putting the album on and losing myself in its tranquility. Still, it’s not everyone’s idea of good music, and a 6 song and hour long album is not easy listening. In conclusion, Shapes of Despair have really made an excellent album, and if you’re looking for good, atmospheric funeral doom, you need not look any further.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
rasputin
December 12th 2007


14546 Comments


This might not be my best work, I'm in Europe on a holiday/university exchange, so I don't have as much time to listen to music and write reviews. I'll try and submit at least one a week though. Anyway, thanks BallstotheWalls for recommending this band to me, they're great. Hope you guys like the review.

BallsToTheWall
December 12th 2007


44482 Comments


Nice, Wanted to see this reviewed. Don't have the album itself but the songs on here are amazing. Especially, the self titled track. That is a monster of a track. Great review.

Digging: Tove Lo - Queen of the Clouds

Confessed2005
December 12th 2007


3314 Comments


I'd use the word nightmarish as opposed to nightmary. Other than that, cool review.

rasputin
December 12th 2007


14546 Comments


cheers, I'll edit that now.

rasputin
December 12th 2007


14546 Comments


Cheers Balls, thanks again, they're a brilliant find. I liked all the tracks, but yes the title track really is a monster.

Shattered_Future
December 12th 2007


1540 Comments


This is great to drive around to. I don't know why...

freudianslipknot
December 12th 2007


803 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good review. Well I am really getting blown away by Evoken at the moment, who are also funeral doom. So I think maybe I should give this a try.

Slaytan
December 12th 2007


1186 Comments


Congrats on the Contributor status.

rasputin
December 13th 2007


14546 Comments


Cheers Slaytan.

Shattered Future, I agree with you. It's a nice album to drive around with, along with any Agalloch and Pink Floyd.

Willie
Moderator
December 13th 2007


16019 Comments


How the hell did I miss this review (I tend to read all of yours)... especially since this sounds so good and I just bought a few new CDs already... anyway, enough bitching from me... voted too.

Digging: Skrew - Universal Immolation

rasputin
December 13th 2007


14546 Comments


yeah, this is good, I'd recommend you get it. I'm working on another review at the moment, I'll try and have it up as soon as I can. It's another doom review, and it's also funeral doom, but very different to this. Keep an eye out for it.

freudianslipknot
December 14th 2007


803 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I am totally chuffed cos a friend of mine got hold of this for me. I am listening to this as I write - I was going to let it run to the end before commenting, but Quiet These Paintings Are has just finished - and . . . well . . . it is quite a stunning piece of music. Oh yes, I also just noticed that Pasi is the ex-Amorphis singer - so that is also quite cool. I'll rate this in a week or two after I have digested it properly.

rasputin
December 14th 2007


14546 Comments


yeah, it really is a great album to mellow out too, it has so much emotion.

freudianslipknot
December 31st 2007


803 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ok - I have increased my rating - this album has so much good about it. I actually tend to dislike keyboards in metal, but the atmosphere, melody and tone on this is so subtley created, it just sucks me in. Truly great album.

rasputin
December 31st 2007


14546 Comments


Yeah, it is. Have you got Slow Transcending Agony by Ataraxie yet? I have a feeling that it will fuel your doom binge, I gave it a 4 at first, but I'm contemplating giving it a boost to 4.5. I actually think it's bettre than Angels of Distress, but it is a different type of funeral doom.

freudianslipknot
January 1st 2008


803 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

No I haven't got it yet, but I will. Still a few downloading bugs . ..This Message Edited On 01.01.08

rasputin
January 2nd 2008


14546 Comments


Well, if you haven't got it by February 22nd, I'll be able to send it to you (that's when I get back home and will be able to download/upload once more). However, that is a while off, so we'll see how it goes

freudianslipknot
January 3rd 2008


803 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5



Just noticed that "Quiet these paintings are" is delivered in a very marked 3/4 timing and is played like a Waltz!! The basic 123, 123 timing is quite clear from the entry of the drums at 2:45.
Funeral/doom will be played in the ballrooms yet . . . lol

rasputin
January 27th 2008


14546 Comments


Oh yeah, I'm sure that will catch on

rasputin
May 7th 2008


14546 Comments


Put this on after a huge hiatus, it's still good!



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