Shape of Despair - Angels of Distress
Spikefarm Records
Funeral Doomdeath
5 songs (55'01")
Release year: 2001
Shape of Despair, Spikefarm Records
Reviewed by Alex

If Swedes are the Masters of Melody then Finns must be the Masters of Sorrow. There must be something in the air or in the water of all those lakes. How else can you explain all those excellent bands from Suomi that dole out sorrowful and pensive music? Amorphis, Black League, Sentenced, Entwine, To/Die/For, Yearning – only to mention the top dogs. Speaking of Amorphis, this is how I got to Shape of Despair. By virtue of hearing or reading somewhere that Pasi Koskinen (Amorphis “clean” vocalist) sings for SoD. Now, speaking about sorrow and grief. If you think you know what it sounds like, but are yet to hear Shape of Despair – you have heard nothing yet.

Before you pop in Angels of Distress in, I recommend you put away ropes, blades, sleeping pills and any other objects that become handy when you want to take out your life. You read me right in my description. This is the music of a funeral. Molasses slow riffs, and an extremely heavy bottom end create the doom foundation. Guitars are used mostly for that pounding riffage, while the most pensive, yet beautiful, melodies are being carried by the floating synthesizers and stunning string arrangements. Once you hear that combination dragged out at a very slow speed you become hypnotized and mesmerized. Atop (or should I say on the bottom) of it all Pasi Koskinen sings in the most unimaginable low gravely lung scraping voice. In spots (… To Live for My Death …) he is backed up by a female angelic choir (those definitely must be angels taking a man’s life away).

There is no need for me to describe this album track by track, because A) there are only five of them, the opener and closer being instrumentals; and B) all of them are very much alike and fit the description above. However, the album is over 55 min long with two tracks being over 14 and 17 min. I personally like the instrumentals less, as they tend to stagnate at times, but the title track is a masterpiece (all those Anathema fans, you want to know what real sorrow feels like, take a listen). I think I also can hear the melody of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata in the beginning of Quiet These Paintings Are.

This album is definitely not for everybody, so consider yourself warned. If you are looking for “action”, you are not likely to hear any as some of the songs (… To Live for My Death …) take 3 min just to get started. The album is extremely slow and intentionally repetitive to induce all those feelings one experiences during a funeral procession. I am not sure whether to recommend a warm sunny day to not get you overly depressed while listening to Shape of Despair, or a rainy cold one because the mood would fit better. Depending on what else went on the day I listened to Angels of Distress I either felt utterly crushed or … entirely cleansed. Make your pick, but don’t take this album lightly.

Killing Songs :
Killing is such an appropriate term here, but seriously Angels of Distress, To Live for MyDeath, Quiet These Paintings Are
Alex quoted 79 / 100
Other albums by Shape of Despair that we have reviewed:
Shape of Despair - Monotony Fields reviewed by Alex and quoted 75 / 100
Shape of Despair - Illusions Play reviewed by Alex and quoted 60 / 100
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