Depressed Mode - Ghosts of Devotion
Firebox Records
Funeral Gothic Doom
9 songs (51'18")
Release year: 2007
Firebox Records
Reviewed by Alex

Depressed Mode should be the title to the story of my life, but a young Finnish band has already coined the phrase for their moniker. The name like this and calling Firebox home can only mean one thing – we are in for some form of doom. Traveling between various doom planes Ossy Salonen & Co. refuse to settle on specifics with Ghosts of Devotion. And why should they, if sadness, grief and depression can be expressed in so many ways. Funeral, gothic and even blackened shades of doom are represented on this debut album.

Probably because the band started as Ossy Salonen’s solo project he is dominating the sound, with his vocals, keyboards, synthesizers and piano. As if helping to widen the range of Depressed Mode, synthesizers can be icy cold, bringing on the end of the world (Alone), lay down a classical funeral melody (Words of Silence) or be replaced by electric piano, clean as rain droplets in some remote desolate northern location (The Sun is Dead). The ivories play a lot of riffs on Ghosts of Devotion, and very often the individual song’s success is very much predicated on how the synths convey the main riff. The reliance and prominence of keyboards is something that sets Depressed Mode apart from the peers, but, at the same time, paradoxically, puts it in a box. Guitars are often relegated to a supporting role, growling somewhere in the background, or simply slamming down steady chords.

If Words of Silence and the title track proceed in super slow funeral motion, in complete and utter resignation with fate, Fallen Angel and Cold allow the gothic to creep in. Fittingly, on Fallen Angel Ossy completely backs away vocally and lets Natalie Koskinen (Shape of Despair) do the singing, Theatre of Tragedy Liv Kristine style. Just about everywhere else Ossy governs with his bottom-of-the-barrel gravely voice, which sometimes switches to a hiss (Alone), which in combination with those frigid synths do create a blackened doom impression. Clean singing is not much into Ossy’s repertoire, but some openings (The Sun Is Dead), as well as scarce duets with Natalie (So Long), do exist. Interestingly, she recorded her vocals locked into a closet. As angelic as she sounds I take it she is not prone to claustrophobia.

Trying not to be constrained with paradigms of the genre, Depressed Mode does fall and stumble through all of its traps. Some songs, like Suffer in Darkness, fail to grab entirely, and if you are not a fan of keyboards in your metal, the band will not be to your liking. Yet, there are moments of brilliance here as well. After the mud and despair of the title track cello brings it to a bittersweet tragic end. Words of Silence has that riff which makes you think about coffin shopping. My personal favorite is the closer Cold, opening up with a beautiful instrumental piano/cello duet almost Lacrimosa style. The lush flow and richness are translated into the heavy part of the song, where piano touches the listener gently while the guitars crush mercilessly. Interesting ¾ waltz rhythms, and overall flow of melody do remind me of Yearning’s first album With Tragedies Adorned, and that only means that Depressed Mode may surprise us in the future.

Killing Songs :
Words of Silence, Cold
Alex quoted 66 / 100
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