My Shameful - _Hollow_
(MFL-Records, 2014)
by: Chaim Drishner (8 out of 10)
A beacon of darkness, a herald of eternal hate; _Hollow_ is dread, sonic dread. This album is capable of sucking the air out of your lungs, leaving you an empty shell with only the goosebumps of your lifeless skin still protruding, left there by this chilling music; a mute, grotesque witness to My Shameful's capabilities of tainting the listener with their sonic filth. _Hollow_ can indeed make you hollow!

This is Finnish group My Shameful's fifth studio album since the band's monstrous debut from 2003, _Of All the Wrong Things_, which set a standard for all future doom/death metal bands; an album that is still considered one of the best -real- doom/death metal offerings in history, an accomplishment that's in league with the likes of _Amidst Its Hallow Mirth_ by Novembers Doom, only darker -- much, much darker.

Ever since its inception more than a decade ago, this band has never been in the range of the casual metal fans' radar, for the most part. This mysterious, obscure band, who always had very underground sensibilities, has been quite active in the shadows, releasing a handful of albums almost no one paid attention to, gathering a small circle of fans who craved for the darkest embodiments of the doom/death metal music art.

My Shameful were never the innovators; on the contrary, they have established a basic, no-frills, sound and playing paradigm that are very orthodox and classic, in terms of metal music. They have always delivered the bread and butter, or the meat and potatoes type of slow (yet ominous) death metal that was familiar, yet different; for My Shameful excel in atmosphere, and dark sonic ambiance is what they eat and what they shit, if you'll excuse my French.

Which brings us to _Hollow_, being probably the darkest emanation from these Finnish masters of disaster and their most accomplished work to date since the debut. Released on the steadily growing and excellent Russian label MFL (Moscow Funeral League), _Hollow_ may be the band's metaphorical aural stone that will shatter the glass ceiling of obscurity and by doing so, allow the world to acknowledge this band's existence; but in all sincerity, I doubt that, since we're dealing with the most extreme form of music, and something -that- extreme can never become a consensus. Nevertheless, this album could at least generate the appreciation this band deserves so much, even for a while -- My Shameful's fifteen minutes of glory.

My Shameful version 2014 is not the same entity that it was ten years ago. Today's My Shameful is angrier, more hateful and arrogantly venomous. The amount of refined hatred contained within this album is of such great magnitude that it seeps through its cracks, and when inhaled it infects the human body and soul with its highly negative energies. Just read those lifeless, pessimistic lyrics of doom and gloom in the booklet; you'll be feeling as if they alone can dim the brightness of the sun.

_Hollow_ sees My Shameful in their most eclectic phase, in that they mix doom metal's velocities, death metal's ferociousness and black metal's aesthetics in a seamless manner, plus all kinds of mellow parts and peculiar guitar effects that render the music sometime almost post-punkish (think of Dolorian's self-titled sophomore album). This album has as much in common with Lychgate as it has with Evoken. It's an amalgam of black metal's most visceral, abrasive and vitriolic moments, coupled with the most glorious moments of horror death metal has ever provided. The outcome is exquisitely harrowing but also strangely melodic, and it is fucking breathtaking.

The faculties _Hollow_ possesses are too many to enlist, mention or describe via the tool of a review. This album is a massive work of both spiritual proportions and earthly punishments; each of the album's facets, both musical and emotional, demand and deserve an individual account. The theories and speculations of how the hell did My Shameful manage to create one of the best albums this year has seen in all three categories: death, doom and black metal -- shall remain only in the realm of theories and speculations. There should also be a separate discussion about the production values the album holds, in terms of its richness of sound and the many effects it uses, and how it still manages to sound extremely conservative in its general etiquette, raw and minimalist. But no, that is not something we could do in the limited space of a review, as this one is something you must hear firsthand in order to appreciate, and not something you could grasp filtered by the prism of this or that reviewer's thoughts and views.

There are so many bands rushing into the mind's eye when listening to _Hollow_; so many great albums are envisioned, echoed by the thundering and vile frequencies of _Hollow_, but none sounds quite like _Hollow_. If you appreciate Raventale's excellent and mostly overlooked album _Transcendence_ from 2012; if you dig both old and new Dolorian; if you are into the strangeness of Unholy or the epic qualities of Ancient Wisdom; and of course if you're a fan of the aforementioned UK-based Lychgate, American Novembers Doom's debut or Evoken's timeless _Quietus_ -- I think you should be prepared for some seriously fucked up sleepless nights upon listening to and exploring _Hollow_, for My Shameful offer on their sixth album only the good stuff: acute pessimism and dread, painted on a blacker than black background that serves as the album's atmosphere (or atmos-fear, if you will). What more can you ask for?


(article published 29/12/2014)

10/29/2006 P Azevedo 8.5 My Shameful - The Return to Nothing
4/30/2003 P Azevedo 8.5 My Shameful - Of All the Wrong Things
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