Artist: Lorna Shore
Album: Flesh Coffin
Many of us incorporate fitness into our daily lives—we do it to live longer, live better, look better naked—the reasons are endless and range from honest to purely cosmetic. In the end, even the most earnest attempts at living a wholesome and healthy lifestyle often go awry; we’re all born with a hideous seed planted deeply within us. It is a godless, loveless and dessicating entity which, from day one, begins to consume our flesh and devour our spirit. No matter how many sit-ups you do, kale-mango-broccoli shakes you drink or miles you run, there’s no stopping it:
The only good our bodies do for us in the end is to serve as our spirit’s coffin.
If that seems like a bleak outlook on life to you, then maybe it’s best you reconsider before diving head-first into the forthcoming full length by deathcore heavyweights Lorna Shore. Their sophomore full length offering, Flesh Coffin is a dark, devastatingly heavy display of mankind’s darkest thoughts and feelings—all wrapped up in an atmospheric-yet-abrasive display of no-holds-barred brutality and riff-driven insanity. Taking the best parts of their near-perfect debut full-length, Psalms, and adding a little more of the crunchy, crushing aggression seen on their previous two EPs, Lorna Shore’s latest album stops at nothing to put the listener in a chokehold from which only death can free them.
Flesh Coffin may as well be the death-knell for Lorna Shore’s contemporaries. Combining blackened atmosphere with stuttering, groovy catchiness and absolutely insane displays of climactic heaviness, it would seem as if these New Jersey juggernauts of brutality simply cannot be stopped. At the center of the band is drummer Austin Archey, who annihilates the listener with a blistering combination of baffling technicality and bold, gut-busting fills and footwork. “The Astral Wake of Time” sees him stopping at nothing to eviscerate the listener with insane speed and punctual skill—while “FVNERAL MOON” is little more than Archey stripping off his gloves and fighting dirty in a one-on-one boxing match with the listener’s eardrums. As one would expect, Archey works intimately with bassist Gary Herrera (who has since departed the band) to create a monstrous, perfectly muddy low end reminiscent of the band’s breakout EP, Maleficium. Together, the duo dominate, creating everything from complex foundations on “Desolate Veil” to the bone-grinding brutality of anthemic album closer “Flesh Coffin.” The former—as well as truly every song on Flesh Coffin—sees guitarists Adam De Micco and Connor Deffleytruly shine. Competent with crushing chugs and slam-tinted moments of absurd aggression, yet shining when it comes to the shreddy, solo-laden songs “Denounce the Light” and “Void,” the duo are some of the most well rounded guitarists in deathcore’s present—and past—eras. Fluid songwriters yet furiously heavy at the same time, it seems as if there is very little De Micco and Deffleycan’t do, as songs like “FVNERAL MOON” see them oscillating back and forth between sweeps, shred, and soul-smothering breakdowns all in one, summarizing the entirety of their incredible skill-set into one epic track.
Flesh Coffin is a novel of Tolkien-esque prestige—and if Archey, Herrera, Deffley and De Micco are the hard leather cover, wrought-iron bindings, gilded pages and ornate décor that serve as its physical form, then the words and barbaric-yet-beautifully talented screams and vocal styles of frontman Tom Barber are the story it tells. Every song on Flesh Coffin sees Barber—and the remainder of Lorna Shore—working diligently to tell stories as engaging as the album’s instrumentation. From the first syllables of “Offering of Fire” through the last grisly growls of “Flesh Coffin,” Barber is even more than listeners could have ever expected. Even veteran Lorna Shore fans will, without a doubt, be blown away by Barber’s progression since his incredible performance on Psalms. “FVNERAL MOON” sees some of his catchiest patterning and word-play yet—while “Infernum” and “Black Hollow” are almost boisterous displays of incredibly range, endurance and energy that make other big names throughout the heavy music community seem like little more than amateurs. Barber’s talents aren’t simply limited to his own creativity and skill; rather, the way he works with the other members of Lorna Shore creates a dynamic that is an experience in and of itself. The way Barber loops syllables and shrill, shrieking screams around De Micco’s furious fretwork and Archey’s insane percussion throughout “FVNERAL MOON” or “The//Watcher” is nothing short of incredible—a true testament to talent that one must hear to appreciate.
Few and far between are the deathcore albums that are as beautifully nostalgic as they are contemporary and comprehensive—but Flesh Coffin is surely one of them. With speed and scathing fretwork enough to give old-school deathcore addicts a taste of truly death-metal-infused heavy musicianship, yet murderously heavy, stuttering and skin-peeling breakdowns blistering enough to make downtempo bands feel like top-40 pop, Lorna Shore have proven themselves masters of metallic integration into modern, malicious deathcore. Barber’s vocals are at the top of their game, with the rest of Lorna Shore’s instrumental writing being second-to-none to boot. Flesh Coffin is pounds upon pounds of feisty, furious power—an album sure to entomb any set of ears that subject themselves to it.
For Fans Of: Osiah, Oceano, Martyr Defiled, Boris the Blade, Belial
By: Connor Welsh