Shroud of Despondency - Forced To Wander Into Nothing
Released December 2002
Reviewed 13 January 2017 by Korpi
In supplement to our recent Michigan Metal Podcast, I'd like to take a moment to reflect on an older release by Shroud of Despondency. Shroud is one of those bands who has moved through stylistic phases as it's matured. Established with the underground “fuck it” mentality that they are metal and sub-genre doesn’t matter, it only makes sense the band would forgo consistency in favor of evolution. I find my opinion of their music varies greatly with each evolution, but their 2002 demo before their 9 year release hiatus is surely their most interesting work.
Forced To Wander Into Nothing is an odd step outside their works of previous years. While it retains much of the same skill and lo-fi production quality, it offers an unusual mixing featuring a variety of distorted guitar and ambient work. Some of these new ideas carried over into their future works, but by the time of these later releases it was clear they had matured well beyond the unique sound on Forced To Wander.
The album's guitar tracks have a very compressed and under-produced feeling to them, much like their older works; but then the vocals are thrown at you with a much more natural sound creating a strange level of inconsistency. A similar more natural sound is also used in their acoustic recording segments, just as the same highly distorted sound is used in many ambient elements. What can only be described as a raven's caw is so twisted you're left wondering if it was a recording that was distorted or a synthetic sound distorted to sound like a raven. Then as we near the closing of the album things take a different turn; vocals become more harsh and convoluted, everything takes an even more lo-fi approach as if the entire concept of the album is melting, and even the ambient cuts and distortions become more harsh.
Forced To Wander retains a type of disconnected rawness that you would expect from underground black metal. The difference is in how it cleans up the act a tad by layering these disjointed elements in a musical fashion that has an overall flow but is still disconnected between every element.
I've never been much of a Shroud Of Despondency fan, but overall Forced To Wander Into Nothing is an album that has stuck with me above all their others. It's so inconsistent, distorted, under-produced, and strange in a dark ambient noise music sort of way that I can't help but be intrigued with the complexity this has created. Definitely an album worth checking out; and with a “Name Your Price” on Bandcamp, it couldn’t hurt to send some amount of money their way.
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