I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I usually find out a band is one of the many projects created by Dutch metal-magus Maurice de Jong after I’ve decided that I like the band in question. The sequence of events usually proceeds as such: I will get an email about a new album, I will listen to the album, I will decide that I like the album and that I am interested in the band who made it, I will look up the band and find out it is another solo or side-project of Maurice de Jong. This process will likely continue to repeat until I either go deaf, or the ocean levels rise and drown me, whichever comes first (probably the latter, my hearing is surprisingly good for all the loud has hell shit I put in my ears).
If you can believe that this is how I discovered The Sombre, then you’re powers of deduction are top-notch. Now go put those abilities to some good use! Join a team of super sleuths and solve some crimes, or help me figure out why when I put a pair of socks in the washer only one comes out after the cycle. You know, important work like that. And while you use your newly discovered superpowers, you can listen to the latest album from Maurice’s The Sombre project, Shapeless Misery to help you maintain your focus. Or maybe to depress the hell out of yourself. Whatever. I’m not you. I don’t understand your needs.
Shapeless Misery is the second album from The Sombre, and continues in the project’s tradition as a tribute to the death-doom of the Peaceville-Three (aka My Dying Bride, Anathema, and Paradise Lost). The album does a remarkable job of reproducing the weary sense of momentum and contemplative angst that denoted the doom of that era as a break from the more adolescent preoccupations of sex, speed and Satanism that characterized much of the metal of the late ’80s and early ’90s. It is particularly emblematic of Paradise Lost’s work as seen through the lens of bands inspired by them, like Katatonia and Cult of Luna. There is a powerful, yet understated, orchestral quality to these tunes that is frankly incredible. It’s extremely difficult to believe that Shapeless Misery is the product of not only a single musician’s mind, but also a single musician’s hand. Such is the extreme versatility of Maurice’s talent. A man who is best known for the extreme noise and black metal project (ie Gnaw Their Tongues), is able to conjure compositions more faithful and evocative of the original mindset and sonic parameters of death-doom than many bands with three to six times as many members. Take note folks. Maurice sets the bar, and he just keeps raising it.
Despite its title, Shapeless Misery is both perfectly defined in terms of sound an intention and a real joy to experience. You can listen to the entire album below via Bandcamp:
The Sombre’s first album Into The Beckoning Wilderness was recently reissued on CD by Chaos Records. The album was originally released in an ultra-limited run of 50 CDs back in 2019. Of the current run of 500 there are less than 50 left! If you want to get your hands on one, go here!