Shape of Despair
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|Shape of Despair|
|Also known as||"Raven", from 1995 to 1998|
|Genres||Funeral doom metal
Season Of Mist (2006)
Avantgarde Music (2011)
The Mist and the Morning Dew
|Past members||Toni Mäensivu
Miika "Azhemin" Niemelä
The two major founders of this musical entity are Jarno Salomaa and Tomi Ullgren. Jarno is the major force behind the musical direction of the band. They changed their name in September 1998 to its current manifestation. Most of their albums were released by Spikefarm Records, with the exception of the "Written in My Scars" 7´´ EP, which was released on October 31, 2010 by Solarfall Records and the Split Album with "Before the Rain", which was released on June 30, 2011 by Avantgarde Music.
In 1998, they recruited Natalie Koskinen as female lead vocals. She is also an active member of Depressed Mode, serving as their female lead as well. Samu Ruotsalainen joined the next year on drums. Sami Uusitalo is the only current member not to have been part of first two full lengths CDs, joining up in 2004 to play bass for Illusion's Play.
Shape of Despair's first recording under their current name was their 2000 LP album Shades of.... The following year they released their 2nd full length album entitled Angels of Distress. In 2004, they released Illusion's Play. In 2005, the band released a compilation titled Shape of Despair, featuring rare and unreleased material from the group, including tracks from the band's first demo "Alone in the Mist," and a new song called "Sleeping Murder", recorded over a four-day period at Sundicoop Studios in Savonlinna, Finland. After a 5 year lull the band released an EP "Written in My Scars". Rumor has it that the EP was a precursor to a larger full length project in the works, as a gesture of loyalty to placate the incessant clamoring of fans for new material.
Shape of Despair is a pioneer of an inimitable, haunting, and intricately woven style of music. While the exact genre classification has remained open to debate by many in the metal community, there is a consensus about their importance, place and influence in the metal and musical world. Some of the styles they have been tagged with include melodic Death/doom and atmospheric funeral doom metal with Gothic metal elements. The difficulty in classifying the band under one specific metal sub-genre is a result of the inherent complexity with which they operate musically.
Typically, the structure to many of the songs resounds with a wall of interwoven melodies. The guitars are low, distorted, heavy and constant. The synthesizers are usually light and contribute to the general ambiance. On Angels of Distress, a violin works in conjunction with the synths. The mood of the synthesizers, the droning guitars, two distinct vocal styles, booming bass, and deliberate drums, all act in concert to explicate the various themes of tragedy, wonder, and mystery of existence. The key to any description of the music is to focus on the ubiquity of the sound.
The band makes much use of repetition to better invoke a pervasive atmosphere. The drumming never strays from the deliberate pace of the songs. The male vocals are usually deep guttural growls. In contrast, the female vocals are ethereal, poignant and peaceful. Often whole passages occur with either female or male vocals; sometimes, both are used together. The contrast between the dark inherent in the male, and ghostly heights from the female, compares favorably to the antipodes of light vs. dark. In the sense that the vocals contrast in this manner it is similar to the "beauty and the beast aesthetic," attributed to Gothic Metal vocals.
The songs are typically long, averaging usually 10 minutes. The deliberate pace makes the transitions and changes in the songs more stark and noticeable. In summation, there is a distinct otherworldly feel to the music as the band intends to push the boundaries of conventional music.
Lyrically, as the name of the band would suggest, they deal with themes relating to solitude, loneliness, alienation, self-exploration, and pain. Some of the song lyrics deal with deeper Philosophical issues. Like many metal bands, Shape of Despair's lyrics and themes have been attributed by some to the influence of American horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. One of the first bands credited playing funeral doom metal are fellow country-folk Thergothon. Like many other bands of the sub-genre, Thergothon have lyrics either directly referencing Lovecraft's fictional works, poetry, or around themes he promulgated.
- Henri Koivula - vocals (2011–present)
- Natalie Safrosskin (formerly known as Natalie Koskinen) - female vocals (1998–present)
- Jarno Salomaa - lead guitars & keyboards (1998–present)
- Tomi Ullgren - rhythm guitars (1998–present), studio bass (1998–2004)
- Samu Ruotsalainen - drums (1999–present)
- Sami Uusitalo - bass (2004–present)
- Pasi Koskinen - vocals (2001–2010)
- Toni Mäensivu - vocals (1999–2001), drums (1998)
- Miika "Azhemin" Niemelä - vocals (1998)
- Miika "Azhemin" Niemelä - bass (1998–2004)
- Toni Raehalme - violin (recorded on Angels of Distress and Illusion's Play)
- Aslak Tolonen - kantele (recorded on Illusion's Play)
- Johanna Vakkuri - flute (recorded on Shades of...)
- Shades of... (Full-length - 2000 - Spikefarm Records)
- Angels of Distress (Full-length - September 25, 2001 - Spikefarm Records)
- Illusion's Play (Full-length - September 27, 2004 - Spikefarm Records)
- Shape of Despair (Compilation Album - August 3, 2005 - Spikefarm Records, Reissued in 2006 by Season Of Mist)
- Written in My Scars (7" EP, vinyl only - October 31, 2010 - Solarfall Records)
- Shape of Despair / Before the Rain (Split Album - June 30, 2011 - Avantgarde Music)