|The idea to form a band goes back to the first months of the year 1995 when T.U. and J.S. started to rehearse together after the demise of their first Death metal band. They wrote a few songs together and their style began to evolve into something doomish. A drummer (T.M.) was found from a small circle of friends and at that time the name Raven was taken. In the same year Raven recorded some instrumental rehearsal tapes only for their own pleasure.
In the end of the year 1997 the band's songwriting progressed and the music evolved into the desperate and beautiful synth-based slow-drifting music that it is today. In January '98 Raven entered a small 8-track studio called Arkki and recorded their first songs from the year '95: an approximately 50min. demo-tape "Alone in the mist", only for themselves. Approximately at the same time the female singer with the most enchanting voice this side of heaven, N.S., joined the band. In September Raven changed their name to Shape of Despair and recorded their promo containing two of the newest compositions and sold all of the 100 tapes. This tape featured aguest appearance on vocals by Azhemin from Thy Serpent. At that time the line-up was: J.S. - guitars, drum-programming & synth, T.U. - bass, Azhemin - vocals and N.S. - female vocals. This was the tape that caught the attention of Spikefarm records who, stunned by the band's ability to write such gargantuan tunes, signed Shape of Despair immediately. At this point J.S. was facing a problem of finding the perfect people to fully realize his vision of what the band should sound like.
T.M., who used to handle the drummers position in Raven, was recruited into the band, this time as a vocalist. His deeper-than-deep voice fit the band perfectly. The perfect (this is a word that comes up often when talking about Shape of Despair) drummer was found when S.R., a well-known drummer in the scene agreed to play on the album. A fluteplayer (J.V.) was also recruited. The band then entered Hellhole Studios in Helsinki and with the assistance of Antti Lindell and Kaide Hinkkala laid down the tracks for the monstrous "Shades of…"-album. As soon as the album was released, it gained numerous raving reviews all over the world and was greeted as one of the doom-albums of the decade. Which it certainly is. T.M.'s ultra-deep growls, the fragile voice of N.S. combined with the downtuned heaviness of the guitars and the overall slowness created a glacial atmosphere, cold and merciless like the Finnish winter.
Shape of Despair started finalizing new material as soon as the studio doors had been shut behind them. J.S. already had most of the material ready before the first album was even recorded! In April 2001 everything was finally ready and the band headed down to the pits of Hellhole again. After the recording of "Shades of…" T.M. made the decision to leave the scene permanently so the band was facing a task of finding a new vocalist to fill the huge gap T.M. left. The ideal replacement was found when J.S. met Pasi Koskinen of Amorphis fame and was showered with praise from the prog-rockers' vocalist. When asked if he would like to perform the vocals on the upcoming album, the response was quick: Of course. This time the band also had a violinist (Toni Raehalme) on board adding new aspects to the sound.
"Angels of Distress" is a work of mind-numbing proportions. It takes the band's sound into new realms of depression offering more variety in music instead of the transcendental, introverted flow of the first album. The all-encompassing rumble of the guitars has given way to a more polished sound, leaving space for the vocals and synthesizers to expand the bleak atmospheres Shape of Despair weaves. "Angels of Distress" is the shape of doom to come.