If you’re dealing with material so sad, yet with a strong feeling of melody, chances are you’re in Finland. DEPRESSED MODE is the newest band in a long line of melodic melancholy and a proud successor to this lineage. The group formed in 2005 around Ossy Salonen (vocals, synths/programming) and seems to have gotten a shot in the arm with the addition of vocalist Natalie Koskinen (from SHAPE OF DESPAIR) in 2006. They also received label attention, from Firedoom Records, and recorded an album. Mixing began in early 2007 for “Ghosts Of Devotion” and now the debut LP is available for consumption.
“Ghosts Of Devotion” starts off with some fairly standard Doom-Death material, but manages to twist it just enough to make it interesting without changing the nature of the beast. While it’s always slow and grinding, the album only rarely makes it into Funeral Doom territory (the title track being a notable exception). Despite his credit with synths in all promo material, Salonen’s keyboard plays almost exclusively as a clean piano, adding an air of class and nicely counteracting with the crushing guitars. It’s misery in two very distinct flavours. Additionally, though Salonen’s deathly growl is the primary vocal, Koskinen is never too far to lend her own wails to the soundscape. This all adds up for a stronger sense of melody than we’re used to with Doom-Death.
And sometimes they trick you. “The Sun Is Dead,” for instance, starts off with powerful, fast-yet-morose riffing that reminds me (in spirit of not sound) of DARK LUNACY before taking us through vacillating slabs of Doom and foreboding piano melodies. The band even fits in a BURZUM cover (“Dunkelheit”), but I can’t say as I’ve heard the original, so I can’t compare. I just hope it didn’t drag as badly as DEPRESSED MODE’s version.
“Ghosts Of Devotion” is not a great album, but it is a good one. It’s one of the better Doom albums I’ve heard this year and DEPRESSED MODE’s take on melodic Doom-Death is a welcome one. Fans of Doom-Death definitely should check this out, for others it wouldn’t be a bad place to start. Let’s see where this band will go from here.
(Online September 7, 2007)