”When a man finds that it is his destiny to suffer… his unique opportunity lies in the way he bears his burden.” - Viktor Frankl (1905 - 1997)
If suffering is an integral element of great art and indeed life itself, one must wonder what kind of pain has been inflicted upon the minds behind Finland's Shape of Despair for them to paint such disconsolate sonic landscapes. Terms like ”glacial”, ”gargantuan” and ”monstrous” have been used to try and describe Shape of Despair's bleak hymns but alas, words fall short and simply cannot convey the crushing weight, vastness and melancholy of their sorrowful dirge.
Shape of Despair has been a forerunner of what is generally (and quite inanely) classified as ”funeral doom” for the last 15 odd years. After the demise of their death metal band in 1995, Jarno Salomaa and Tomi Ullgren decided to create something different, something darker, something to reflect the abject atmosphere of life in the council estates and the contrasting serenity found in the nature surrounding their area.
In 2000, Spikefarm Records, a burgeoning sidelabel for the well established Spinefarm Records, signed Shape of Despair and released their debut album, ”Shades of...” to rave reviews and general praise from the international doom community. The band was still to deliver it's proverbial coup de grace in the form of 2001's ”Angels of Distress”, an album that cemented their position as THE doom band of the new millennium. ”Illusion's Play”, released in 2004 and the self-titled compilation a year later were their last records for Spikefarm and marked the end of an era for Shape of Despair.
Reinvigorated by the addition of new vocalist Henri Koivula and a freshly inked deal with France's , Season of Mist, Shape of Despair are set to begin anew, delivering yet another monolith of morosity. Swiss philosopher and poet Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821 - 1881) wrote: “You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: make use of suffering.” And that is exactly what Shape of Despair are doing. Abandon all hope, for a new era of despondency is at hand.
Shape of Despair 2014