When, in 2010, the Greek band Shattered Hope released their debut album titled Absence, not all the critics agreed in recognizing in it the prodromes of a definitive explosion of that potential, then only partially demonstrated, conveyed in this magnificent Waters Of Lethe. In fact, the debut work showed a band with a rather linear songwriting and, all in all, oriented to a death doom as heavy as it should be, but still containing wide melodic gaps, definitely appreciable then, although not yet enough to place the Athenian combo at the top of extreme doom. Waters Of Lethe demonstrates, instead, that growth that seemed inevitable, as if it was a design of the Olympus gods: the eighty minutes of oppressive and leaden pain translated into music clearly shift the sound coordinates towards the funeral side, without the melodic component being put in second place. Seen live last year in that of Romagnano in their only Italian appearance in front of a few and lucky intimates, Shattered Hope were clearly those who, among the bands present, exhibited the sound less immediate, deeper yet full of charm, able to leave the viewer the pleasure of finding the right key to fully enjoy the bitter cup of music. With these premises, the wait for the new album was certainly justified and fortunately it wasn’t betrayed, confirming the fact that these four years have been a long but necessary period to bring to the highest level the stylistic and compositional progression of the Hellenic band. Waters Of Lethe starts with Convulsion, a song characterized by a poignant final part that shows, however, at times, a slightly more aggressive sound than the one that will be proposed in the rest of the work; but it is clear that, after this excellent test of strength of over twelve minutes, what awaits us is a journey to hell slow, terrible, oppressive and full of despair, in other words everything that those who love funeral want to hear. The following For the Night Has Fallen is, in fact, a classic song in which the guitar harmonies unfold in an optimal way on a structure more traditionally devoted to the masters My Dying Bride, while My Cure Is Your Disease goes to evoke the bradycardic scores of Worship of the masterpiece All I Ever Knew Lie Dead, enriching them with a relative dynamism and a more pronounced melodic taste, for a splendid final result. The beauty of this album is also found in its constant qualitative progression that finds its climax in Obsessive Dilemma, a track in which the guitar paints desolating sonic frescoes that intertwine with an iridescent and expressive growl. A work already well above average goes to close with two tracks from the total duration of more than half an hour that are at the same time the most complex of the lot, but able to reveal more and more of their charm after each listening: certainly, the five minutes of funeral integralist placed in the tail of Aletheia contribute to weigh much listening, almost as if to counter the relative catchiness of its central part, but they are also an ideal viaticum to the sublime atmospheres placed in the introduction of the final Here’s To Death, long litany from delicate traits as funereal able to match the best Esoteric and Mournful Congregation. As already repeated several times in similar situations, the recent Canto III of Eye Of Solitude, moving further up the quality standard of the genre, stands in the present as a bulky term of comparison for those who want to try in this same field: well, in this regard it can be said that no one like Shattered Hope has managed so far to approach the magnificence of the London band, compared to which the Greek sextet is just below only for the dramatic impact, essentially due to a lesser emphasis, given in that case by the impressive work of the keyboards that, however, in Waters Of Lethe, play an elegant and discreet work of accompaniment leaving mainly to the guitars the task of developing harmonies as beautiful as melancholy. But there is no doubt that this work represents an ideal summa of what has been produced by the pantheon of funeral death doom in the last twenty years, going not only to reshape with a very personal reinterpretation what has already been done by those who wrote the history of the genre, but even managing to equal the intensity and pathos.
2014 – Solitude Productions