Shroud Of Despondency – Family Tomb (2015) – We’ve covered many of the numerous Shroud Of Despondency efforts here at the Tower, with Family Tomb unfortunately being the band’s final moment. I’m not sure what it was that brought them to this decision, but the incentive for the album was to go in with a more stripped down and rough approach, rather than the modernisms of the band’s previous effort Tied To A Dying Animal which by all means should have been a breakout hit for them.
Nevertheless, on each album I’m always greeted to something profoundly different and this one is no exception. It seems as though the band wanted to pump more black metal into the mix this time around, while mixing it in with Gothic synths in order to create a sound that is very close to the early Gothic black metal of acts like Graveworm, Hecate Enthroned and early Cradle Of Filth. The record clocks in at nearly a full hour of music, all of which carries the same Castlevania-esque (well, I guess we have to say Bloodstained now, don’t we?) atmosphere of fearsome doom and gloom.
But if you’re looking for a raw approach with a mixture of harsh scowls and gravel-thick growls, then you’re certain to find it here. As far as the guitar work goes, it’s very close to that of the band’s early black metal of the past, which also includes some furious drum abrasions and powerful tinges of melody in areas. There are even some memorable solos to be found. It really feels like they put their all into this record, even seemingly knowing that it was all coming to an end.
Family Tomb literally sounds like the last gasp from the band, as they poured forth everything they had into one extremely potent effort. Even though I wasn’t entirely pleased with the earlier recording, I definitely feel that Shroud Of Despondency offered several discs like this one that are most certainly worth checking out. I said that these guys have talent and I stand by that. Every single record that they put out had offered something new and different to the listener, as they weren’t the kind of band to retrace their steps. Though it always felt like the band was trying to reinvent themselves, and they even seemed to release a new demo several times through the point of their career which I think is quite strange.
It doesn’t appear that these guys will be doing anything else in the near future, but one can never tell. I’ll admit that I never expected it to end on such a dark and dreary note as this, but It also seems to accomplish quite a bit in the nature of extreme Gothic metal and that’s something that I’ll be sure to remember from their legacy. Rest in peace, Shroud Of Despondency. You’ve accomplished several great things in far less time than it takes most bands to do so and your name will be uttered in the same breath as other cult acts for many years to come.
(7 Tracks, 54:00)