Review Summary: Loss becomes us.
“Patience is a bitter plant, but its fruits are sweet”; this old German proverb summarizes perfectly the course of Greek doom/death metal outfit Shattered Hope. The outfit was founded in the early ‘00s, a time where things weren’t all too bright for the Greek metal scene as a whole, should its already acclaimed death/black metal wing be excluded. Contrary to what appears to be the case nowadays, new outfits at that time struggled hard to make a stand on their own, but after some demos or an album or two (at best), they vanished into oblivion due to lack of growth-know-how and local fan support.
Shattered Hope’s persistence beyond those times could be possibly ascribed to the kind of music they serve, which depends on a set of fragile conventions, in order to become really interesting. From the band’s initial repertoire, which consisted of custom material and Saturnus/My Dying Bride/Paradise Lost song covers, to the first EP/promo releases, Shattered Hope rounded the edges of their music progressively. In effect, the release of their debut album Absence
in 2010, assessed them as a promising outfit in the vein of the previously mentioned outfits. It took four years for the band to deliver its sophomore effort Waters of Lethe
, an album which brings Shattered Hope on a quite comparable level with respect to their heroes of youth.
The new album follows a different direction with respect to the debut. In Absense
, Shattered Hope paid homage to all their influences, foreign and domestic (Saturnus, My Dying Bride, Septic Flesh etc.), and presented a diverse blend of majestic death/doom metal. The new album is different in that it leans decisively towards the funeral end of doom metal and outfits such as Esoteric. All songs (which go beyond the 10 min mark) are less varied, transitions per song are almost seamless, yet with minor twists (“For the Night Has Fallen” for example, transmits a latent blues vibe), whereas the lead guitar melodies are subtle and sparing. The ups and lows (for death/doom metal’s standards, that is) of the debut album are almost absent here, whereas the vocals, which have more character than in before, range timely from low-end guttural death metal to ripped-out black metal.
The lack of variation combined with the prolonged temporal length of each number, may lead many to believe that the album becomes a rather tiring affair, eventually. Two attributes in the album work the other way around; the first is the near-perfect sound production, which is equivalent (if not better) to the last Esoteric album or the mid-‘00s My Dying Bride albums (Songs of Darkness, Words of Light
in particular); the second lies in the band's ability to keep things interesting, despite the lack of pronounced dynamics. In effect, a dedicated listener and fan of the genre, is expected to “relax” comfortably within the album’s sonic affliction, while completely losing track of time. “Here’s To Death” in particular, the album’s (ambient/doom metal) closer, works perfect in that way.
It is believed by some individuals, that as life becomes harder and harder, music should follow the same alley, in order for stress to be relieved. The author of this review is unsure as to how valid is this analogy and whether Waters of Lethe
may or may not work towards that direction. What’s certain, though, is that Shattered Hope have made themselves worthy of further attention by fans of quality death/doom metal.