posted on 5/2008 By:
Finnish death/doom band My Shameful marks their fourth record with another crawling crushing slab of dreary riffing, somber melodies and agonized vocals, reminiscent of (vintage) Paradise Lost or Swallow The Sun. Don't let the boring "We did this in five minutes in Microsoft Paint" album art fool you--this one's largely a professional effort and a good record.
Descend is the standard epic doom with death vocals, not progressive or outside the proverbial box, but instead relying upon sheer repetitive misery to carry its point across. As such, it’s guilty only of two infractions: not deviating from the blueprint and the occasional tendency for a good simple riff to drag along at a snail’s pace for longer than need be. Album opener “Allconsuming” is a good little slice of solemnity, but it’s far from the band’s best, and the album truly hits its stride midway through, which is another small complaint. Starting with the chugging riff at 1:00 in “Deity Of Retribution” and continuing through the stellar “This Hate” and “Of Haunting,” My Shameful create some moments of truly uplifting misery. Although vocalist Sami Rautio mostly keeps to a deathy growl with the occasional gothic clean moment, he keeps things interesting by doubling his vocals, either with a high/low death-growl split or a simultaneous growl/clean overlap that works well to create some eerie atmosphere.
On the production front, the record sounds acceptable, clear but still a bit raw, and that aspect could be improved—death/doom often benefits from a cleaner, punchier sound and this one’s good, but by no means beyond reproach. On the songwriting front there are many moments of doomy sweetness, although My Shameful seems averse to any riff that's even remotely complex. The simple nature of what riffs do come is a double-edged sword: on one hand, it allows the plodding nature of the music to swallow the listener and on the other hand, it makes a dreary atmosphere become...well...unpleasantly drearier. The album’s first great songwriting moment, “Of Haunting,” utilizes a plodding staccato riff and some almost Pete Steele-y mumbled vocals to create a gothic darkness that’s both goofy and menacing, before sliding through some standard death/doom riffs into a killer molten riff at the 6:00 mark. The torturous doubled vocals really add some depth to the record, both in “Haunting” and with the gurgled low parts on “Kill The Emptiness,” which also sports a pretty rocking swaggering riff at around 3:00 in. The Paradise Lost/My Dying Bride atmosphere of “Unrepentant” is another highlight, with its swaying verses and open riffing before it picks up the pace and jumps into a blastbeat.
Overall, despite their simplicity and a general lack of innovation, My Shameful is a good addition to my death/doom collection, and it would fit in yours, as well, provided you haven't had enough of bands like former Firedoom labelmates Swallow The Sun. My Shameful is by no means the greatest thing I’ve ever heard, nor even the greatest thing I’ve heard recently, but whatever their shame may be, it shouldn’t be this record, because through all its sluggish twists and turns, Descend is a solid and depressing listen.
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