I've always had a soft spot for funeral doom, as bleak as that might sound I think it makes sense. The genre has lush soundscapes and epic vocal lines and delves deep into a side of humanity that many choose to ignore. In some ways one might argue it's merely the logical end point of one of metals most happening genres. The thing is, it's not every day I get to write about a legend in the genre like Shape Of Despair whose first full length in eleven (!) years Monotony Fields is already one of my favorite records of 2015.
Heavy synth sounds and gloriously guttural growls come together to help make Shape Of Despair sound epic in scale. You get a sense of the earth moving and the world crashing down around you as Shape Of Despair guide the listener to complete oblivion. The atmosphere of sonic desolation that comes with each crashing chord and every synthed out melody is stunning. The depth of the sorrow behind this record is immeasurable and speaks to the bands ability to communicate the fucked up melancholy of the human condition. Monotony Fields may never dare to speed up, but that's part of the power of the record, finding beauty even as it trudges forward, one painful step at a time.
There is an overwhelming aura of slow death and grim decrepitude on Monotony Fields - an effect that Shape Of Despair have had to work at for years to properly cultivate. Their soundscapes are wholly unique - at once with elements of Summoning and Caladan Brood, but also with touches of acts like Austere, and yet, on top of all of that there is another element that is wholly Shape Of Despair. Digging into their music, with its soaring female vocals and crushing bottom end is a pleasure to the ears, and this is quite likely what makes Monotony Fields the best funeral doom record of the year.
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