Female vocals, Growl, Melancholic
"With "Return To The Void", Shape Of Despair starts a return in the meanders of the pure funeral doom without giving up its more atmospheric and emotional desires."
CHILDERIC THOR (30.06.2022)  
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If their work rhythm is as slow as their music, letting (too) many years go by between each of their offerings, Shape Of Despair already offers a successor to "Monotony Fields". Already? Seven years is obviously a long time between two albums, but not for the Finns, who needed a good ten years to complete their meager discography in 2015 with a late third opus after "Illusion's Play" (2004), which seemed for a long time to be the tombstone of its authors.

Sliding album after album towards a less suicidal art, even disappointing with their last production many fans of the first hour, we remained frozen in our memories of the original "Shades Of...", released twenty-two years ago, whose unequalled depression still haunts us. By its title, "Return To The Void" immediately announces a return to the pure funeral doom of the origins. And if the icy and nocturnal melancholy of "Shades Of..." is definitely over, if only because Jarno Salomaa and his band are not the same as they were twenty years ago, we have to admit that this fifth dolorous poem revives in a certain way the hazy grace of "Angels Of Distress" without however renouncing to this romantic pallor which drapes like a shroud the doom woven by the Finns since "Illusion's Play".

The emotional beauty obviously owes a lot to the spectral melodies of Natalie Koskinen whose importance within this misty edifice has never been so prominent, like the title track or 'Dissolution' that she nimbles with a vaporous fragility and a shy hope. But the massive 'Solitary Downfall' reminds us that Shape Of Despair remains the undisputed master of these funeral processions. The guitars weave a web where each thread is an absolute note of sadness while the multiple vocal lines, clear and distant, are diluted in this thick fog.

While 'Reflection In Slow Time' illustrates the abysmal power of Henri Koivula, whose vocals have something of a drill sinking into vertiginous sea pits, 'Forfeit' finds the perfect balance between charcoal torpor and almost elegiac majesty, A poignant syncretism towards which the Finns tend with "Return To The Void", a work which is both rooted in the cottony and telluric substratum of the beginnings but also pushes a door towards a more atmospheric, less gloomy and more emotional territory.

In this, this fifth album cultivates a disturbing ambivalence, dug in the pure funeral doom and yet introspective, probing the soul that it turns over with a delicacy that borders on the unreal.
- Official website

01. Return To The Void - 9:14
02. Dissolution - 8:59
03. Solitary Downfall - 11:06
04. Reflection In Slow Time - 8:08
05. Forfeit - 8:00
06. The Inner Desolation - 11:48

Daniel Neagoe: Batterie
Henri Koivula: Chant
Jarno Salomaa: Guitares / Claviers
Natalie Koskinen: Chant
Sami Uusitalo: Basse
Tomi Ullgrén: Guitares / Basse
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