Funeral doom and depressive black metal is the bread and butter of this album (a playlist really, but I consider my playlists albums). It visits only a few other despairing terrains. This is no melancholy walk in the park as my previous playlists (Monumental funeral doom melancholy and Post-rock melancholia) but pure despair and depression. The darkness on the album is not sourced from incoherent extreme sewer sounds but tightly sounding bands that combine a great melodic sense with a feeling of hopelessness and misery.
1. It would not make sense to reveal all the cards in the beginning, so the beginning of the album is a light descent with some melodic funeral doom.
Shape of Despair is a band many of the melancholic melodic funeral doom bands model after. Their second album Angels of Distress (2001) is the biggest landmark yet strangely I seem to have picked tracks from their two newer ones in my playlists. Entwined in Misery is the best piece of their 2004 album Illusion’s play. It features hauntingly beautiful background keys that have lasted the touch of time extremely well. Pasi Koskinen’s growling kept getting deeper as Shape of Despair progressed in their career, peaking here. The new vocalist Henri Koivula (Throes of Dawn) does a tremendous job on their newest release, Monotony Fields (2015) as well.
All these years in absence
…forgiveness does not reveal itself…
…and emptiness falls before me…
And silences this life,
2. One of the best releases of 2015 Leviathan’s Scar Sighted is based on black metal but at it’s darkest it is pure nihilistic funeral doom. The title track is especially gloomy. The tortured screams and bright piano create a real contrast of depression and light.
Nil light reigns
Only tattered accusations
Paling to the comparison
Now utterly drained
And all wonder is banished
Life after life
3. Evoken – Mournful Refusal. Evoken could be called a successor of nihilistic old school funeral bands like Esoteric, also having more in common with Thergothon and Skepticism than Shape of Despair. 2005 release Antithesis of Light (what a title!) benefits of its modern and crushingly heavy production. Hear also the dynamics, how beautifully Evoken has crafted a chorus with clean guitar and lovely bursty double bass drumming.
Waiting only prolongs the wanting
Living only prolongs the arriving
Death knows no regret of a mournful refusal
In sporadic tone, the composition of beauty
Turned grim and cold…
4. Lifelover (what a band name!), a lot of people loathe them and for a reason. Their sounds take some time to get used to, drum machine and quite amateuristic guitar sounds. Upon listening their masterpiece, Konkurs for the first time I thought: “Is this the masterpiece? Really?” But it’s a stunning grower with a soul that is very hard to find on any other release. The pitch-black humour in the depressive lyrics is the icing on the cake.
Stängt p.g.a Semester (closed because of semester) is an interlude unlike anything else on this album. A beautifully haunting acoustic track with despairing lyrics. One of the only instances were being forced to study ~8 years of Swedish in school has paid off.
Vem behöver glädjas åt sig själv
När vi kan skratta åt andra?
Vem behöver ha ett syfte
När det är urvattnat och saknar mening?
Vem behöver säga att “Jag mår bra”
När ändå ytan är det viktiga?Innan jag åkte, lämnade jag bomber,
Där ni känner er som mest trygga
Jag kommer inte tillbaka
Who needs to be happy about their selves
When we can laugh at others?
Who needs a purpose
When it’s all dried up and lacks meaning?
Who needs to say “I feel good”
When the surface is what counts?
Before I left, I planted bombs
Where you feel most secure
I won’t return
5. A lot of people thought it a dick move when a couple years ago Ghost Bath swindled in being a Chinese band, but turned out to be American. They said that was because they wanted to keep actual identities/location anonymous and for affection of Chinese culture.
Prejudice labelled aside Moonlover is a fine release but Happyhouse is the lethal injection Ghost Bath is at it’s best in prescribing. Happyhouse brings in mind the “Mental Central Dialog” themes of Lifelover. It’s bright melodies and incoherently painful screaming vocals clash together to create a feeling of an mental asylum. The melodies are a bit predictable but twisted a little obscure, perhaps wee bit out of tune and so fucking good, all this predictability is a strength. A downright shuddering tune.
6. Drudkh – Solitude. Yes it’s a great track and yes it’s pretty long with a lot of repetition, in the right mode Solitude becomes a very meditative track. Solitude is one of the only instances of more melancholic terrain than the rest of the tracks, it’s true potential lies in its slow and somber orchestral main melody.
Solitude’s lyrics are from a poem of an Ukrainian artist Taras Shevchenko (Thoughts of mine, О thoughts of mine, 1839). The familiar slavic dramatic melancholy is easy to discover.
Не накличу собі долі,
Коли так не маю.
Нехай злидні живуть три дні –
Я їх заховаю,
Заховаю змію люту
Коло свого серця,
Щоб вороги не бачили,
Як лихо сміється…
Нехай думка, як той ворон,
Літає та кряче,
А серденько соловейком
Щебече та плаче
Нишком – люди не побачать,
То й не засміються…
Не втирайте ж мої сльози,
Нехай собі ллються,
Чуже поле поливають
Щодня і щоночі,
Поки попи не засиплють
Чужим піском очі…
Never knew I joy, nor will it
Come to me if I
Grieve ’thout end…. Let grief be short-lived,
Let it snake-like lie
Coiled within my breast and hidden
From the evil sight
Of my foes…. And may its laughter
Reach them not…. By night
And by day my thoughts are ravens;
Let them croak while my
Heart, a songbird, trills and warbles,
While it softly sighs,
Sighs and moans with none to hear it
Or to taunt it … Pray,
Let me weep, and do not try to
Wipe my tears away.
Let them flow and flood the alien
Field till that a priest
Comes and covers me with alien
Earth…. Ah, me! No peace
Grief will bring me….
English translation by Irina Zheleznova taken from http://taras-shevchenko.infolike.net/t-shevchenko-tr-by-irina-zheleznova-poem-thoughts-of-mine-o-thoughts-of-mine.html) I cannot speak Ukrainian so the English and Ukrainian parts may not match exactly.
7. Moonsorrow – Kuolleiden Maa. Listen, Moonsorrow is not most known for their depressive black metal vibes. But on Kuolleiden Maa they are nothing else.
Olen siellä mistä kaikki alkaa uudelleen
Missä valo ei värejä näytä
Kaikkialle levittäytyy tasainen niitty
Vain taivas ylläni vaalenee
Käy rauhaisena vierelläni tuuli
Itse silmäni suljen ja itken
Tänne jään, kaipuuta vailla
Rikotun henkeni veden virtaan annan
I am there where everything
Where the light shows no colours
An even meadow stretching everywhere
Only the sky above me growing lighter
A calm breeze is blowing beside me | I close my
eyes and weep | Here I
shall remain, without yearning | My broken spirit I shall give to the streaming