Review Summary: Beautifully Nostalgic
Luscious landscapes of sonic resonance from both the pits of hell and the skies of heaven are what comprise Funeral Doom. Funerals are a time of mourning and joy. Let us mourn that the ones we love are lost to the atmosphere of this world but let us rejoice that they had the presence to set foot on this earth and mingle among us. Fans of Shape Of Despair have been in mourning for the past 11 years since the release of their previous album Illusion’s Play. An excruciatingly long wait no doubt, but the joy one feels when listening to Monotony Fields is overpowering as it is a purely exquisite voyage of yielding passion.
"Reaching The Innermost" begins with the sway of synth setting sail across the oceanic wave of crescendo. Its destination: the deepest and most burdened corners of the heart. The lumbering bass and simple chord changes glide effortlessly along the shores of Quintessence while the menacing growls from the recently installed Henri Koivula are smothered by Natalie Koskinen’s awe-inspiring cries. The journey comes near to the end when all the instruments cease that leave the exposed female vocals naked in the darkness and leaves you completely absorptive to the euphoric atmosphere. The vocals are intense throughout this 75 minute masterpiece; furthermore they increase the level of grandiosity within Shape Of Despair’s music. The harrowing glow of "Descending Inner Night" alone paralyses you in a comatose state while the constant growling nightmarishly slumbers around your head. Not long after, cleaner vocals are heard from the same voice that leave the song emotionally primed. The transforms from soft-to-harsh vocals are simply velveteen during "In Longing". The growls crawl out from the crack of earth and then cower back just as seamlessly to a softer verse while feminine chants provide a glimpse of light that stop you from drowning amongst the ominous darkness. If you’re not crying yet then the only reason is because this album has stolen the soul you one had.
Shape Of Despair use synthesizers in every song of their fourth album. The sluggish drones both rule and maintain each song in its own masterful way. It dominates in "Withdrawn": providing a pendulous backbone of universal soundscapes and also in "The Blank Journey" whereby the tranquillity is broken by the sudden moan of bass and guitar however the luminescent synth still pierces through the bleakness. Yet in the title track it is hidden in the background supporting the weight of the riffs and equalling the balance between gloom and glamour. The bands’ musicianship and use of synthesizer come to a natural balance in the album closer: "Written In My Scars". The (what sounds like) tear-dropping inspiration from the piano introduces the song in gorgeous fashion as Koivula’s abysmally heavy vocals envelope round the strained guitars. The paradox of these devastating vocals and tranquil harmonies evoke a truly majestic piece of music. The angelic cries from Koskinen are so flawless in this song that one may mistake them for being the actual synth itself; which proves a vast landscape of lamenting, sonic magnificence. And finally, the stressed notes carry a longing heartbeat of a melody that end the album just as it started: beautifully.