If there ever was a band in Finland living up its moniker, it must be Shape of Despair. Yet let not one be fooled by such a catch-all description. There is no easy way out of the monochrome maze laid out before the visionary eye of the listener. From inky blackness crawling over the hapless wanderer to passages of almost blinding whiteness—think of sun shining, unforgiving, over a glacier—this is modern, funereal doom without any of the tired trappings often associated with the genre.
Shape of Despair came into being during winter 1995, the brainchild of band leader Jarno Salomaa (guitars and synth) and Tomi Ullgren (guitars). All the while searching for the ultimate line-up, Shape of Despair recorded a demo-tape “Alone in the Mist”, a promo, and two albums. While the debut “Shades of…” caused quite a stir in the underground, their aim became unwavering for the second one and “Angels of Distress” was a bull’s-eye shot, a defining moment for a talented band already well set in their ways.
Now, on the eve of the release of “Illusion’s Play” the line-up has, besides Salomaa and Ullgren, settled on Natalie Koskinen (female voc), Samu Ruotsalainen (dr) (both long-standing members), Sami Uusitalo (b) and Pasi Koskinen (v). Mr Koskinen’s monstrous growls prove his vocal range is by no means exhausted by his other bands Amorphis and Ajattara, while providing a distinct counterpoint to Natalie’s angelic voice.
“Illusion’s Play” was recorded and mixed in Hellhole Studios by Kaide Hinkkala and Antti Lindell. Tranquil, serene, yet brooding with the same sense of impending doom as their earlier albums, there is notable cross-over potential present on this powerful album. If anything, “Illusion’s Play” takes a stand against the fast-food mentality in music today—this is one album to truly pay attention to. Reeling over the edge to the vertiginous gulf below, try not to sway… too far…
1. Sleep Mirrored
3. Entwined in Misery
4. Curse Life
5. Fragile Emptiness
6. Illusion’s Play
Pasi Koskinen – Vocals
Natalie Koskinen – Vocals
Tomi Ullgren - Guitars
Jarno Salomaa – Guitars & Synth
Samu Ruotsalainen – Drums
Sami Uusitalo – Bass
Shades of… (CD Spikefarm 2000)
Angels of Distress (CD Spikefarm 2002)
Illusion’s Play (CD Spikefarm 2004)