Against Magazine

SHAPE OF DESPAIR: Still dreaming… (Interview w/ Jarno Salomaa)

More than a decade after here it is “Monotony Fields”, the long waited new album of Shape of Despair – one of the cult acts in funeral doom metal. We had the pleasure to speak with Jarno Salomaa, lead guitarist, keyboardist, founding member and main composer of the band, to understand this absence but also the art to magically transform beauty and despair into music.



“I like my own solitude to draw out music but of course it needs feeding from outside.”


First of all, why did Shape of Despair took 11 years to release a new full length record, “Monotony Fields”?
There were mainly other things we took part and took longer break than we expected. Some of our members were very busy with the other bands and their tours, etc. Then some of us had more or less difficult times in private life. There’s no certain reason why this took 11 years… When I look back now, I think this was just a good thing. Our 4th album would’ve sounded quite different from what it is now… But I don’t know, maybe we should look forwards than drag the time behind us?

Please update us of what has the band done within the last decade…
After our 3rd album “Illusion’s Play” we made the “compilation” album, other word could be 10 year anniversary album… Both sound quite lame, though. Then we wanted to make split 7” EP with the, yours truly, Portuguese doomsters Before the Rain. We had plans at first to make a split with Process of guilt but they had more “uptight” schedule than we. Understandable, they should’ve had to wait quite some time. And then we did a 7” EP “Written in my Scars” through Solarfall Records as well. Also, Aftermath Music released all our first three albums as a vinyl recently. Strictly limited ones.

How was the writing and recording process for “Monotony Fields”?
Well, I did compose few songs before we started to compose songs ended up to this album some time ago already. I had a quite different idea about how this album would sound. When we started to work on more of the songs, these went quite naturally slower and slower. The rest of the material came out quite easily… Tomi worked on two songs this time as well. One of them is “Descending Inner Night”, which is now premiering through Season of Mist (SOM) and their partners.
Recording was a bit more slowly paced. We started with laying guitars down first as Sami and Samu were on tour with Finntroll. It was easy but I have to admit this is not the way we’ll record next time. In this time we’ll have two albums out in the time we did this album. Mixing took enormously time and there we had a few problems as well… But, when we started this one, there weren’t no hurry anywhere, as we didn’t had any label yet… It’s no surprise we are revealed to have this one out, finally.

This time you have a new vocalist, Henri Koivula. What made Pasi Koskinen left the band? So far, how has Henri contributed to Shape of Despair?
That was one reason why there weren’t that much of doings as it seemed Pasi wasn’t too interested in this music. So we decided later on that it’s the best for both parties to go different ways. I knew Henri already and knew he’d fit Shape of Despair perfectly… both ideally and musically. He is, for me, very talented and shares a lot of same ideas I would do… Plus, he sings well both growls and clean ones. For this album, Henri made all the lyrics and vocal arrangements.


“There’s no certain reason why this took 11 years… When I look back now, I think this was just a good thing. Our 4th album would’ve sounded quite different from what it is now…”


How was the deal with Season of Mist?
Better than on Spikefarm, that’s for sure. We’ll make hopefully at least one album after “Monotony Fields” and will see after that some more. For now, it seems people at SOM are very nice and good at what they do.

The band has managed to craft its own style with the doom metal genre. What is your main inspiration to compose this distinct kind of music?
This one is always hard to answer. There are a lot of things which inspires: music, life itself, mind to say the most important ones. Maybe there’s always a dark corner in my mind where I’ll serve the ideas to Shape’s music… I like my own solitude to draw out music but of course it needs feeding from outside. And I think these feeders are other people, amongst other things.

How have you decided to collaborate to collaborate with Before the Rain?
I have had a chance to know Valter [Cunha] quite long time now. We had some talking back then and way back then also, that would be great to make something with Shape of Despair and Before the Rain. I think we both wanted to make something but didn’t have any good chance for this. But, luckily, Avantgarde Music showed some interest and wanted to release our split out…

What are your plans to play live to promote the new record?
We’ll play a few live shows this year, but that’s about it. We have never toured and so far it looks the way we’ll go further on as well. Actually, I had an idea from the start that we wouldn’t even play a single one live show… but here we are. Luckily, we seem to have dedicated people around us to attend our shows and that’s important on that one.

You can read our review on Shape Of Despair’s new album over HERE.