Shade Of Sorrow – Upon The Fields Of Grief

4 min read

Band: Shade of Sorrow
Title: Upon the Fields of Grief
Country: Finland
Label: M-Theory Audio
Release date:  June  28th,  2024
Format reviewed: High-Quality Digital Recording 

When I first heard of Shade of Sorrow, it was because I saw a fellow Metalhead on Instagram talking about their music… and well, I’m always curious and avid about new music, you know. I’m more than glad that I checked this one, it’s been a while since I didn’t listen to Finnish Melodic Death Metal and let me tell you, this album is very very good.

It was later when I was searching for information about the band, that I saw there’s only one man doing everything: Mika Kankainen. He plays all the instruments and does the vocals, so you can imagine what a monstrous work it is for a sole person… and he does everything so well! I always say that some people are born with a special gift. In this case, Mika was born  with the ability to play/perform music and all instruments with a high level of skill.

You’ll notice there’s a lot of “typical Finnish” sound in these songs. I mean, if you are familiar with bands like Wolfheart, Insomnium… you’ll catch what I mean. There are certain Finnish Melodic Death Metal bands sharing some musical characteristics. It’s not that they all sound the same, of course not;  it’s something inherent to Finnish melodeath: specially, the catchy choruses with clean vocals, the use of piano in a very melancholic way, some simple notes here and there; and a kind of dark feel despite the good vibes that their music can deliver. I’m sure that Finnish weather must have something to do with the final sound in many bands, with so much cold and darkness around, the artists are affected by it… 

“Upon the Fields of Grief” starts with “No Return” and this is a 5 minute top notch opener, with all the elements you can expect to find in an album like this: starting with a clean guitar melody, accompanied with a consistent drumming, and when vocals start they are of a moderate raspiness kind, not extra harsh, and totally understandable. There’s a catchy chorus in the song, using both harsh vocals and clean together, same as in other parts in this album, and this sounds really enjoyable. A few synth notes thrown here and there feed the melancholic mood, the harmonies are beautiful and neat, … and, despite all these lovely elements, I have the feeling of a walk on crackling ice while listening to this song. I mean, the beauty is real, but also the feeling of fragility, the icy injection of despair running through my veins… And I love it! The power of Finnish dark poetry, or however you want to call it… 

Ahh let me warn you about the second track, “Blackheart”: this is the single I first listened to by Shade of Sorrow, the song that made me dig more into the band’s music, and finally pick this album for a review. It’s a powerful song, it builds a very consistent structure right from the soft start, and all through this track the guitar work is brilliant, very melodic. 

The addition of some cinematic effects in “Blame” turns this song into something delicate, special. Besides, the short piano section adds the perfect dose of sorrow and melancholy to the music. I love when a sole song can reach my emotional side, and this one can do that. But, beware!, after the calm comes the storm… and the second half of “Blame” is way more dynamic, something savage has been unleashed. And well, followed by “Fabricated Hope”, the powerful trip goes on. Starting with relentless drums to awake some dead, maintaining the high energy level as the song progresses, and with a great turn into the deepest Finnish melancholy by the half of the song. Awesome harsh vocals, damn beautiful clean voice, majestic instrumentation… How can Mika do ALL this here?? 

I love the way Mika can switch so easily from soothing and melodic tunes to a relentless sonic attack, or in the reverse. And I also love how he can unleash all his fury in “Fields of Grief”, a song with an ultra soft start that very soon turns into one of the most violent storms of the Nordic seas. Or a lethal viking raid. The word that comes to my mind is “devastating”.

There’s a lot of melancholy running free in these 10 songs (I think I’ve said it before), this is a feeling that surrounds you almost completely. Of course there are sections where it’s increased, and some others where it is more subtle. But well, it seems that mr. Kankainen knows very well that emotion, and all its different shades. He does a fantastic work with his debut album. It’s a 9/10 for me   Sílvia

 

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9/10 Epic Storm
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