Review Summary: This EP ends before it really has much of a chance to shine, despite the ideas being good.
There are a few interesting things about Written In My Scars
. It was intriguing enough that they limited this to a vinyl-only release, effectively slaughtering the amount of people who will be able to listen to their new material. If that wasn't frustrating enough for fans of this Finnish doom metal group, it's been 5 years since any material has been released from them. After quite a long inactivity, I would have thought that they would have made their return much more open to their fans rather than limiting it to vinyl only.
That aside though, this EP contains 2 tracks at around the 6 minute mark - which is rather underwhelming in itself for a band that used to create songs around the 15 minute mark (and make them worth the time they took), and this would have been perfectly acceptable if the songs are among their best. Unfortunately for Shape of Despair, the songs on Written In My Scars
are underwhelming. That's not to say they're bad, because they're not - but after 5 years, it's safe to assume the fans must have been pining for a lot more.
To get the bad out of the way, the songs aren't structured that well. Shape of Despair usually do a great job of structuring their material so they don't feel their length and flow very well, but the tracks here seem a bit too monotonous for their own good. Though ironically, this is due to their short length. It sounds like they had the foundation for a great track, started the first 4 minutes of it, and decided not to progress the tracks any further. I guess they tried to condense their work, but it didn't do the atmosphere these tracks are meant to create any favors.
Despite this, the tracks are relatively enjoyable and do a good job of showing that Shape of Despair still know how to make that atmosphere evident in their previous works whilst merging it with a little something new. The vocals are still well performed, despite them coming off as a little stiff. There is some interesting guitar work here, especially in the second track The Bliss Of Sudden Loss
, which is probably the stronger song of the EP. The title track suffers from the same issue, fading away before the track really has a chance to stand out. The ideas are good, but the idea of condensing to this extent is quite perplexing for a band that used to be all about long-drawn out ideas and bittersweet monotony. But on the plus side, the production is really great - particularly on the vinyl itself.
It's safe to say if you're a fan of Shape of Despair then you'll probably find something in this EP that you'll really enjoy. If you don't have the necessity to hear it, I wouldn't lose sleep over it. Perhaps it was a conscious decision to make the tracks so condensed, just to give a taste of things to come, but they probably could have done a much better job at it and perhaps drew out the ideas a bit more. This EP doesn't really indicate much in terms of whether Shape of Despair still have what it takes to make a great LP. The atmosphere is there, which is a start, but we'll see if Shape of Despair have what it takes to make another excellent atmospheric doom metal album. But if they do, I'm all ears.