To say this is one of the most anticipated metal albums of the year is undeniable; to predict that would’ve been the case only two years ago would’ve been unthinkable. That’s the voaracity that’s accompanied the newest phase of Lorna Shore, pretty much since bringing Will Ramos onboard as a frontman to solidify the galvanisation process. With that came the release of their single To The Hellfire that spurned huge viral success, and served as a clear demarcation between ‘just another deathcore band’ and something far greater. It was grand and sweeping, packing in blackened and symphonic metal elements in a way that felt fresh and, critically, interesting. Built upon by their subsequent EP …And Then I Return To Nothingness and a level of hype around this new full-length that’s utterly unprecedented for them, at no point have Lorna Shore ever felt more like true, big-time contenders than right now.
And even just from a cursory glance, you can tell that Lorna Shore have spared no expense in making that so. At an hour long in which the symphonic deathcore angle is pushed to its logical extreme, Pain Remains cuts the figure of an album that knows it’s a big deal. And while Lorna Shore have the capability to withstand that pressure, the fact they’re able to fly amid buzz that, within this genre, is simply never this loud, speaks volumes about how high they really are. Yes, Pain Remains is undoubtedly impressive even just on the surface, but the implications for how much the bar has been raised in an oft-maligned scene are something else entirely.
That’s even when keeping in mind the mini-renaissance that deathcore has been experiencing lately, and how Lorna Shore, on a metric of scope, can still rip through all of it as if it were wet paper. It’s the most unmistakable part of Pain Remains, kicking off immediately with Welcome Back, O Sleeping Dreamer with its orchestral swells and choral chants. There’s a regality that’s more common in black-metal or symphonic metal woven in across the board, and it’s consistently there as well. Even amid the blazing guitars and drums, the opulence doesn’t quell for the sense of constant enormity that’s Pain Remains’ bread and butter.
Scope is undoubtedly the primary directive, a notion which can occasionally show some strain. Again, this is a long album with even the shortest song being just south of five minutes, and so tight construction isn’t really a priority. If anything, it brings Pain Remains even further in line with black-metal with its spiralling grandeur that can overshadow most else. But that also feels like the point, as Lorna Shore crank their bombast to hitherto unexplored degrees within deathcore, the apex of elegance and enormity in a sound that’s regularly anything but.
Even without considerable standout individuals, Pain Remains as a whole is so fresh and bold in what it strives for. The size can’t be overstated, but there’s also the production on top of that, mirroring the approach of boldness without limitation near-perfectly. Brutality is in no short supply, particularly from Austin Archey’s machine-gun drumming, as Lorna Shore’s holistic pursuit of maximalism weaves and balances every element with pinpoint accuracy. With each shifting dynamic and imperious brick building this wall of sound, Pain Remains carries so much triumph, so much so that it punches up a lot of blackened deathcore’s typical fire and brimstone imagery into something far more malevolent and all-consuming. It’s rounded out by Ramos’ vocals, in which similar range and dynamism feeds into both the macabre theatrics, and the low-end destruction that Lorna Shore hold in equal regard.
In terms of a whole package within this corner of heavy music, Pain Remains is about as conceptually airtight as it comes. There’s barely a loose end present, nor is there an idea that hasn’t been realised to its fullest potential, moulded around a scale that’s exactly where Lorna Shore want to take it for an album that’s the definition of creative independence in metal. It’d be more surprising if this more ornate style isn’t replicated to hell and back in the coming years, such is the shake-up that Lorna Shore are capable of facilitating and spearheading. But at the same time, Pain Remains just has a feel to it of the genuine article, as if for all that’ll come in its wake, this is the central pillar standing tall and never surpassed.
For fans of: Fit For An Autopsy, Humanity’s Last Breath, Enterprise Earth
‘Pain Remains’ by Lorna Shore is released on 14th October on Century Media Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall