Artist: Shattered Horizons
Your future has been reduced to dust. What was once a crystalline pane—a clear plan, a bright future, loving friends and family—was brought down in shards all around you. Now, everything you’ve loved is gone, broken, busted right before your eyes and no matter what you try to do, how you try to do it or how hard you try, nothing can bring it back.
You’ve lost the very essence of what made you…you. Kindness, happiness, love—it’s all gone. You’re reduced to your primal roots. Your vision goes red, the taste of blood whets your appetite and your knuckles clench as if you were trying to bend a steel pipe. This is the sensation the listener gets at the beginning of “An Introduction to Insanity,” the enthralling opening number to the breakout full-length record by Shattered Horizons, Abhorrence. Half pure horror, half hellish intensity and one-hundred percent heavy and even more creative, Shattered Horizons combine technicality, blunt aggression and brutalizing, over-the-top evisceration with eerie atmosphere and touches of blackened grit to bring the heavy music community something that’s familiar in the best way possible while still managing to be new, exciting and surprising at every turn.
In a word, Abhorrence is…well, many things, but instrumentally, “absurd” comes to mind before all the others—and it’s “absurd” in the best kind of way. The music is written to seamlessly oscillate from unfathomable heaviness to speedy, shredding technicality and insanity without skipping a beat, bringing elements of technical deathcore, downtempo deathcore and slamming brutal death metal all in to nanometer juxtaposition. Take, for example, “The Manipulator,” or the lead single, “Hangman’s Covenant.” Both of these see percussionist Ruaridh Flavell serving as the band’s fluid, furious foundation, dominating with pummeling kick drums and a sharp, snappy snare that explodes into the listener’s cranium like a pistol shot point-blanc. Flavell adds marvelous fills, vivacious and energetic patterns and the ability to tone things down and match the sludgy tone of songs like “Flatline” to a tee. Flavell, accompanied by bassist Craig O’Hare, serve as Shattered Horizons’ firmament; with O’Hare’s bass grooving and plunking along with Flavell’s fleet footwork. “Schizophrenic Obsession” highlights this as well as any song on Abhorrence, as they all do a marvelous job of seeing Flavell’s drumming at the top of his game, with O’Hare keeping perfect pace—a task in itself. However, where the two are instrumental, they do their job to support the furious fretwork and immense riffs of guitarists Stewart Duffy and Dan Kerr Watson. Duffy and Watson go on a rampage, targeting the sanity of the listener first and foremost. Every song throughout Abhorrence shows this off; “Elvira” is excellent evidence, where the duo combine metallic, sharp riffwork with atmosphere and—of course—blunt heaviness. Then, there are the introductory and concluding tracks which are short and sweet samplings of just how relentless the duo, working with O’Hare and Flavell, can be. The point is simple; the band are instrumentally immense, start to finish, and very little seems to stop them from accomplishing their tedious ascent to the pinnacle of modern deathcore.
But what good is an excellent display of musical mastery without a talented, varied, vicious vocalist to back it all up? Fear not—because if variety and energy is what you’re looking for when it comes to heavy music, Calum Forrest is your man. Shrieks, gurgling guttural bellows, ear-splitting shrieks and raw, gritty mid-range yells all take turns berating the listener’s ears throughout Abhorrence, even taking turns working with contemporary powerhouses Brendan Wilson and, he who needs no introduction, Ben Duerr. Even working with two juggernauts, Forrest proves he is more than capable enough to hold his own—and this is highlighted in “The Manipulator,” as well as “Elvira,” which might be the album’s catchiest song. Forrest dominates with an awe-inspiring range and endurance to match—such that even where his lyrics stray dangerously close to generic for the genre, his vocal dynamism is more than compensatory for that, bound to keep the listener hooked throughout the entirety of the release. This is true from “The Manipulator,” into “Hangman’s Covenant,” and all the way to the last seconds of “The Serpent” before the album’s ultra-aggressive concluding number kicks off. Forrest matches the musical mastery abundant on Abhorrence, which is really all anyone could ask.
Abhorrence is far from its namesake. Where the album’s moniker might imply something a sane listener might want to avoid, it, instead, is one of the finest technically-inclined deathcore releases this year has seen—from a band few people likely expected it from. 2017 has had no doubt of near-perfect releases, and it’s time to add another one to the list. Thirty minutes of pure power, combining slamming, sinister darkness and traditional deathcore intensity with contemporary touches of downtempo deathcore and technicality to add flare, panache and pure, pants-pissingly fearsome terror to the mix, Abhorrence is an excellent album—and Shattered Horizons are about to take a sledgehammer to the works of their peers across the globe.
For Fans Of: Oceano, Ingested, Bodysnatcher, Shadow of Intent, Slaughter to Prevail
By: Connor Welsh