The Finnish duo's original Doom Blackened Metal comeback arrived one year after the debut, while the Anniversary Edition in 2017. "Memoirs of A Shattered Mind" is dedicated to the band's brother and cousin Mikko Kirjavainen, who decided to take his own life at only 23 after composing one of the lyrics here comprised and the bass parts for the same song.
All of the artwork is digital: it begins with the front cover portraying a background with burnt woods, whereas the close-up features a partially transparent girl who contains a landscape in flames. The girl is turning to ashes and to crows flying off. The back cover is a continuation of the image realized by the graphic artist for the front and it shows a desolate lake with some leafless trees, probably carbonized.
In the two covers the colours are meant to further depress the viewer: white, black and grey-green with the addition of a little red.
The 12-page booklet displays the following in this order:
scenes that prosecute the the theme expressed in the front cover, then a sea or a lake with clouds at dawn or at the sunset, then the entry to a sinister dark basement, then a big hanging clock, then a tree devoid of leaves on whose branches vultures are sitting, then some dead leaves. The thankslist and instrumentation list page shows a can of beer, a bottle of a superalcoholic drink and several glasses on a table. The last page before the above-mentioned back cover reports a photo of the two musicians - hooded and darkened - and their instruments on the bottom.
The inner part of the tray shows an image upside down, that is a tree, which a noose
is hanged to, and a grave. In the second image we can see more ash in the snow.
In the 2017 edition everything remains the same bar the discs themselves: in the 2014 version the CD depicts the same tree upside down on a blue background, while in the 2017 version the background utilizes dull lilac.
The lyrics are contained in the booklet and they all have a distant shadow. Cool!
Written by the two musicians with the exception of one by the late brother, there's a a majority of them composed by Antti, and they are mostly dealing with suicidal thoughts.
In detail they talk about:
* the distancing from a selfish and egocentrical person
the lack of joy and lust for death felt by someone, something that nobody can change (written by Mikko)
* an unremovable separation followed by demise
* a gagged and tortured victim without hope of being heard and rescued (the best lyrics on this record)
* people who wasted their lives who now want to make you waste your own time
* tears for a shallow life where happiness is gone and a sense of guilt while death is nearing
* suicidal instincts that grow when you see the joy of others that you'll never ever feel
The production differs between the two editions, in that the latter contains clearer and louder sounds, particularly the bass lines and the kick-drums. Therefore the rhythm and lead guitars have been maintained intelligible through an increase in the strength and presence of mid frequencies.
The platter is sensibly shorter than the first work and likewise begins with an intro, "...and Now You're...", which is cold and anguishing with some guitars and percussions in the 2014 version, but more orchestral thanks to an e-cello and 5 seconds longer in the 2017 version.
"Dead to Me" has an epic start, ensued by a mid-paced main riff embellished by delicate and precise single guitar penning; later on it gets sliced by a break moving between effected vocals and growls, while the elegant keyboards remain in the background. The Black Metal vocals truly sound evil-incarnate, while the keys accompany us listeners until a well-crafted piercing guitar solo appears. Frantic blastbeats and abrasive screams return and go on till the final slowdown arrives. This song is actually distant from their past material, devoid of the Doom Metal characteristics that we're used to.
As a matter of fact, Doom and Atmospherical Metal pop out exactly when the first clean vocals of this album make a display; it is in fact with "This Dying Soul" where they were put and they are there to belong, along with processed slightly reverberated back-up vocals, whispered vocals, as well as the first clean female vocals used by Fractured Spine on this platter. Finally, the guitars are interlaced, sometimes acoustic, at times distorted with the hard panned vocals. A song who especially fans of Sentenced, Amorphis, Pain and Lacuna Coil are bound to adore.
"...and Gone Was I..." is an interlude and a brief introduction, too; the keyboards sound dreamy or spectral, the depressive vocals seem to be so close to My Dying Bride's, yet just a few instants later they are replaced by witch-like mixed a tad lower.
Everything changes again radically with "Deprived of Daylight", due to a fat and sulphureous guitars only a bit contrasted by a clean second guitar on the left. The following mixing work is elaborate, with a wise panning of the various types of vocals between left, right and centre during the whole track. In the 2017 version there's more diversification between the left and right channel with regard to the guitar tracks, whereas atrocious screams before a growl in the distance are present only in the 2017 release. This is a composition mostly played on mid-paced riffs alteranted with other more Proggy ones. A guitar solo played on blastbeats spread in three distinct points also exists, while the vocals, respectively Death Metal, Black Metal, or just murmured ones, are ably blended. The acoustic closure is definitely in the sign of extreme sadness, seeing the second guitar semi-distorted to appear at very short intervals.
The highlight "Clock That Ticks" grows gradually and is another piece that runs on mid-tempoes, this time sustained by obsessive tribal drumming interrupted by keys and ticking of three different clocks. The bass duets with a little distorted guitar, and afterwards a more powerful, distorted, crushing one. At a certain moment there are even keyboards touches that remind me of a musical box that can't but increase the feeling of nostalgia. Also noteworthy is the stark contrast between growling and robotic vocals, as well as others effected placed in the background, and even more Black Metal ones. To conclude all, the two guitar solos inserted into such elements are actually a series of melancholic strokes, each carving a deeper wound to the heart and soul.
Introduced by noises somehow similar to statics, "Shallow" is one of the most experimental and multiform songs the Finnish act has composed in its entire history; dark, diabolical, dominated by electronica until a keyboard abrupt touch warns that the mood is about to change and a blastbeat kicks off, then the two musicians recurr to twin layers of infernal vocals, clean male and female vocals, once again interpreted by clever guest Sabrina Koppmann. These are in turn alternated with other effected vocals. The guitars may be sharp, but on other occasions they are majestically tag.teaming with the gorgeous e-cello when it's time to go Doom Metal again. A haunted masterpiece!
Like the title suggests, the rather long closer "Suicide Patterns" proves to be the most discouraging composition of the 8 available here. Opened by vocals drenched in psychological suffering, semi-acoustic guitars preparing for the mightier portion, featuring rocky drums and recitative clean vocals, reinforced by other oppressive ones under a curious Death Metal/Gregorian chant effect. The clean vocals are so full of pathos and they are enhanced by Black Metal rotten shrieks and unforgettable bass lines. Moreover, the guitar solo placed upon the cold blastbeat is the saddest my ears ever listened to in my whole existence. It fades out helped by an acoustic guitar, the e-cello, until the last drum intervention gradually pops in a few seconds before the end like a military march tune.
Although this second full length contains three/four constituents found on the debut and it came out just one year later, it ends up with being a fairly different album: first because it's shorter, secondly because it's been pre-planned more than its predecessor, in third place since more tracks were used for the recording; lastly due to the fact that this is almost a concept album.
Musicwise it's a record that requires 3-4 listens to be really assimilated. On the first listen you will realize the musicians tried to sound fairly different than on their debut and sometimes you might wrongly think that some structures are going nowhere or are just randomly placed to then disappear. With time everything will make sense, including all of the components and variations that were added not to bore the listener.
Compelling and memorable, the melding of technical prowess and smart songwriting is a constant on the album.