Shape of Despair
Monotony Fields


4.5
superb

Review

by linguist2011 CONTRIBUTOR (252 Reviews)
July 12th, 2015 | 71 replies


Release Date: 06/15/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: After 11 years, Shape of Despair have arguably created an album which will prove to be just as good, perhaps even better than the past three albums. The wait has definitely been worth it.

There are certain bands this year who have made excellent comeback albums after having had either a much-needed hiatus or who have simply not been able to be more consistent with writing music because of various reasons. So far we've had the excellent A Umbra Omega by Dodheimsgard (8 years), the predictable yet still highly regarded Black Age Blues by Goatsnake (15 years) and just recently Shape of Despair's latest full-length release, the aptly titled Monotony Fields. And just like the aforementioned albums, Monotony Fields more than exceeds expectations, almost to the point where you could possibly believe Shape of Despair's latest venture into darkness is their defining masterpiece. Indeed, it is quite the astounding comeback after 11 years.

When considering the overall quality of an album like Monotony Fields, there seems to be a lot of influential factors. Everything about Shape of Despair's latest full-length seems to have had the utmost focus and attention given by each member of the band. Each respective part of the band's musical output here contribute effectively to one unique, fluent sound which very rarely lets the listener down. The atmospheric build-up of most songs leads seamlessly into heavier territory, as is evident on songs such as the spectral opener "Reaching the Innermost" and the equally astounding title track. Yet the atmosphere itself seems to come in many forms throughout Monotony Fields. Whilst some may persist that the atmosphere is simply one-dimensional, there are numerous occasions where you can pick apart each song and unfold layers, before putting them back together and discovering that really the songs give off a better impression when there isn't too much focus on one aspect of the overall sound. The way in which keyboard and synthesiser elements segue into the melancholic thunder of the rhythm section and then featuring flawless transitions between clean and harsh vocal styles, as with "Descending Inner Night" and "The Blank Journey", seems to be the one of the definitive things which keeps Monotony Fields from growing stagnant. Of course, the album's gargantuan length (the average song time turns out to be over nine minutes long) doesn't make it any easier to grasp any sense of immediacy or in-your-face aural battery, but this is, at heart, funeral doom metal. And it is done so brilliantly.

Stepping away from the musicianship for a moment, you have to consider the influence of the lyrical content and its vocal interplay. Whilst the lyrical side of Monotony Fields doesn't present any surprising or shocking themes (depression, bleakness, darkness, isolation, etc.), the content here is still vital and at times, strangely seductive. Each word is strenuously pronounced to give the listener the full doom-laden experience, and as Henri Koivula sorrowfully roars 'We could only gaze at the eager distance' and 'Taken down, Gone my will, Touch the ground, Perpetual void' in "Reaching the Innermost" and the title track respectively, the brooding power excels beyond any expectation. Complementing this is the way in which vocal transitions appear at the right moment, and also how this corresponds to the lyrical meaning of each track. Whereas Koivula provides the harsh vocals, he also proves how versatile his range can be, particularly when singing cleaner styles in songs such as "Descending Inner Night" and "In Longing" among others. It sounds even better when female vocalist Natalie Koskinen joins Koivula in providing twin lead vocal harmonies midway through both songs, and the enchanting impression this gives off is simply another special something to make the sound denser than it appears.

At 75 minutes long, Montony Fields surprisingly never becomes stale or slips up in its seemingly endless venture into bleakness. Sure, a couple of songs stand out as being weaker than their longer counterparts (namely "Withdrawn" by a margin), but the fluency of the album itself makes sure that what you're really experiencing is a resemblance of a soundtrack to the end of the world. From the entrancing beginning of "Reaching the Innermost", through the mesmerizing Gothic tones of the title track and towards the end of melancholic closer "Written in My Scars", Shape of Despair have created arguably their latest masterpiece. Sure, this album may only resonate with lovers of the darker, more extreme side of metal, but it's hard not to enjoy at least one aspect of Monotony Fields.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
linguist2011
Contributing Reviewer
July 12th 2015


2431 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Criticism is welcome.

Digging: Aosoth - V: The Inside Scriptures

emester
July 12th 2015


8181 Comments


Album's grown a bit off me since release but its still an amazing record. Crazy how they continued without even missing a beat

Gameofmetal
Staff Reviewer
July 12th 2015


10178 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i wanna listen to this but i wanna start chronologically too dammit



but the temptation is there

BallsToTheWall
July 12th 2015


48143 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good album/review,etc.

Digging: Vreid - I Krig

ComeToDaddy
July 12th 2015


1611 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah it's definitely become my favorite album of theirs, it's so weird for a funeral doom album to leave me feeling warm and fuzzy after but they just nail the stately atmosphere, so crushing but so pleasant at the same time instead of just being one-dimensionally crushing. Sweet review Rob

Hawks
July 13th 2015


51911 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Damn they don't have these guys on Spotify, I'm gonna have to YouTube this. Angels of Distress is one of my fav doom albums and I love Shades too so I'm sure I'll dig this hard.

Digging: Swallow the Sun - The Morning Never Came

Gameofmetal
Staff Reviewer
July 13th 2015


10178 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i think this album is on spotify but nothing else

Hawks
July 13th 2015


51911 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm gonna have to check again, but last time I looked they didn't have anything on there. Hopefully they did put this on though.



Ok just checked and yeah it's on there fuck yeah. m/

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
July 13th 2015


7605 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

Excellent album, also a new Skepticism record is due on September.

Digging: Fleurety - The White Death

zaruyache
July 13th 2015


17903 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

doom da-da-da doooooom.

Hawks
July 13th 2015


51911 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This sounds awesome so far.

ComeToDaddy
July 14th 2015


1611 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Awwww shit new Skepticism, had no idea that was due this year.

Vetimus
July 15th 2015


809 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I saw someone wearing a shirt for these guys at the mall, almost fainted from the shock.

Flugmorph
July 15th 2015


17436 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Good review



Only heard one or two songs from this but what I heard was pretty

Digging: Converge - The Dusk in Us

PlatonicMushroom
July 17th 2015


728 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

One minor gripe i have with this is that it lacks royally distressed and hard hitting tunes. Apart from the opener, everything is just glorious, blissed-out melancholy. Could have used a song like Angels of Distress to shake things up.

I mean liek surely funeral doom should shovel dirt on you properly before enveloping in The Light

Gameofmetal
Staff Reviewer
July 17th 2015


10178 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

so yea this album wrecks holy shit

PlatonicMushroom
July 17th 2015


728 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Written in my scars is absolutely crushing at ~3:00

Vetimus
July 19th 2015


809 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Shape of despair are not a very heavy doom band, if you want something more hard hitting then check out Ataraxies lastest album.

DarkNoctus
July 19th 2015


10072 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

now that the initial hype has worn off i can be a bit fairer - this album is awesome, and very few bands pull off this brand of doom like shape of despair do, but i wish it wasn't quite so one-dimensional and simplistic in its songwriting.

Gameofmetal
Staff Reviewer
July 19th 2015


10178 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

pretty doom but good pretty doom



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