Positively and negatively, this could be the most anticipated heavy release of the year. I fall into the positive camp, being a moderate fan of Lorna Shores‘ old work but really loved their previous release, the 3 track EP . . . And I Return To Nothingness, their first release to feature new vocalist Will Ramos.
While Nothingness wasn’t too far removed from the previous release Immortal as far as the music goes, Ramos’s crazy high/low vocal style and demonic growls were a prominent feature and they pushed the keyboards, strings, and choirs into a prominent place in the mix which added a nice layer catchy melody to the deathcore/death metal song structures, however, it was three tracks with a 19 minute run time and my worry was that a full album would grow stale over a 45-60 min listen.
Shouldn’t have worried, this album slaps. If you’re familiar with Lorna Shore, there’s nothing here that will blow you’re hair back as far as innovation goes, what you get is what you expected to get, but it’s great for what it is.
Lorna Shore’s sound is comprised of incessant blast beats, tight riffs, fat breakdowns, and soaring strings and choirs with the high/low vocals that are prominent in just about all DeathCore bands and they don’t really stray out of this familiar territory across the 10 song, 60-minute album but they manage to mix up quiet and loud, fast and slow sections enough to keep things moving.
Opener Welcome Back, O Sleeping Dreamer has a minute or so of orchestral introduction before it kicks off with super-fast drums and a tremolo riff which then drops into a heavy as fuck breakdown riff for the first verse.
The two singles released before the album came out, Into The Earth and Sun//Eater are up next, both songs which I thought were OK but really grew on me over several listens. While they aren’t breaking new ground stylistically, they’re solid songs with the band sticking to what they do well, both of which I found myself paying more attention to when I was listening to the album and not watching the accompanying videos. I think the idea of matching the visual experience to the intensity of the music detracted from the audio side.
Cursed To Die slows the pace down a little, which gives it some distinction from the previous tracks, and has an epic breakdown/build-up midsection. Soulless Existence might be my favourite song on the album, 7 minutes long but full of sick riffs and epic guitar work.
The album closes with one long track, The Pain Remains which is split into three parts and totals up to 21 minutes of music. All three songs work well blended in together and show some excellent songwriting by being varied, moving between fast and slow, loud and quiet seamlessly.
My main gripe with Lorna Shore is also one of the things that I love about them. They’re a band whose all about extremities. Extreme songwriting and extreme sound and as a result sometimes the mix can be really muddied. With everything cranked up to 11, sometimes nothing is cranked up to 11. There are some sections of the songs where all you can hear are drums and keys. Mostly these are blast beat and tremolo riffs, when they play tight thrash riffs you hear every note perfectly and Will’s vocals are mixed well enough that it’s easy to learn the chorus and shout along but sometimes I’m just not sure what I’m supposed to be hearing amongst the huge cacophony that’s blasting my ears.
I’ve referred to Lorna Shore as early Cradle Of Filth on hella steroids which some people found a compliment and some an insult, but I think it’s a decent analogy for what you can expect. I think a good extreme metal album shouldn’t leave you wanting to hear more and after an hour of Lorna Shore I was a little tired, a little worn down, and very satisfied. Don’t expect a prog-metal jazz odyssey or you’ll be disappointed, but if you’re after a harsh and intense hour of brutal DeathCore you’ll get all you need from this one. 8/10