The conversation around Lorna Shore’s Immortal has been surrounded by the uncertainty of whether it would ever actually see the light of day at all. It comes in the wake of numerous sexual abuse allegations levied at vocalist CJ McCreery, which not only saw the cancellation of upcoming tour dates, but effectively shelving the album indefinitely, something that would later be retracted with the album seeing its original release date after all. And that does feel like the best decision overall; though his vocals still remain here, McCreery has since been fired from the band, and Lorna Shore have always proven to be more than the sum of their parts regardless. In a deathcore environment plagued with cookie-cutter facsimiles where each is more boring than the last, Lorna Shore have always strived to up the grandeur and drama of their sound, and even if there are more prominent bands doing less, their creativity in a notoriously uncreative genre deserves to be applauded.
And even if that can effectively amount to not much more than giving the reliable yet unsurprising deathcore wagon a coat of symphonic black metal paint, there’s certainly a freshness there that Immortal uses to its advantage. It makes a difference, that’s for certain, giving Immortal a portentous size and figure that so many of Lorna Shore’s contemporaries can’t even come close to squaring up to. And for as much as this is pretty standard deathcore below the surface, as a whole package, Lorna Shore can offer a good deal more pound for pound than plenty of others in their lane.
That’s generally a case of the band’s capability shining through as brightly as it does, both for what they bring from within their own genre and from outside of it. The obvious selling point is the huge, symphonic bombast and regal swells of strings and choirs that give the likes of the title track and Hollow Sentence a truly fantastic sense of presence, especially when combined with Adam De Micco’s cleaner guitar flourishes that have the sort of precision to cut through the darker noise and serve as a much-needed and much-appreciated light source. With the bleak hellfire that this album brings in its writing that’s drawing on all the regular deathcore threads, there’s an almost religious undercurrent to how it sounds in how gilded the presentation can be, and playing with that dimensionality and dichotomy does a lot to fend off staleness. They’re certainly added-on elements, but they’re woven within the mix to not feel like an afterthought, and in the way they invoke the icy, secular chill of a lot of black-metal with a similar sense of grandeur, Lorna Shore get that crucial step thanks to being heavy without succumbing too much to tropes or overfamiliarity.
Of course, this being a deathcore album means that’s pretty much an inevitability; there’s still a truckload of breakdowns and death-growls at pretty much every turn, and for Lorna Shore’s going on the record of trying to distance themselves from regular deathcore, it’s prominence as a base can’t really be ignored. That’s unequivocally a feature more than a flaw though, and the negative connotations of being lazy and worn-down that that genre has have been deftly sidestepped all across Immortal. For one, it’s extreme-metal bezel encompasses the production as well, which emphasises its grandeur without losing any heft and without sinking to rote, mechanical presentations. But on top of all of that, Lorna Shore simply have a knack of doing more with deathcore than the absolute bare minimum, making the crunch feel even more seismic and bringing the floor-cracking might back to real guitar and drum presence. And when putting the focus entirely on his performance here and nothing else, McCreery is a powerhouse vocalist, more than once hitting a level of carnivorous, eyes-rolled-back savagery that’s among some of the most impressive and impactful the genre has seen in some time.
At the end of the day though, the well-documented limitations of a deathcore album haven’t been completely sloughed off from Immortal, but if Lorna Shore haven’t fully smashed the ceiling yet, the cracks are certainly visible and the foundations are being tested. This is the way the genre should be moving forward, bringing in outside influences that augment it, and not letting itself fall into the staid murk that’s become such a regularity. It’s why, despite not quite hitting the level of greatness, Immortal deserves a hearty recommendation; it’s progressing the genre in a genuinely meaningful way, and for it to not have seen the light of day in the way it almost did would’ve been a true shame.
For fans of: Cradle Of Filth, Fit For An Autopsy, Make Them Suffer
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Immortal’ by Lorna Shore is released on 31st January on Century Media Records.