Artist: Lorna Shore
I wrote the first draft of this review several months ago—and at that time, a lot of things were different. The record’s release date was in limbo, with anticipation for a release in the waning months of 2019, tours were scheduled in support of its impending release and, most relevantly there wasn’t the faintest glimmer of scandal surrounding a former member of Lorna Shore’s ranks. So yes—a lot of things have changed in the lead-up to Immortal, but the most important thing hasn’t: Immortal remains to be what might be the single greatest deathcore record I have ever heard. In spite of drama and acts of devious deceit, that remains the thing that should be noted about the efforts of these underground heavy-hitters. Taking the best elements from Maleficium, Psalms and Flesh Coffin while trimming the fat and adding more personality, depth and atmosphere—as well as an intangible something—to Immortal, Lorna Shore have created a sinister, spine-snapping release that is loaded with lurid riffs, brutalizing breakdowns, eerie, ethereal atmosphere and smoldering, blackened symphonic elements. The result? Well, you read it: a record that despite months of delay, countless tedious hours of tweaking and tinkering, a heaping helping of hype and an iota of unwanted publicity remains to be one of the greatest contributions to the genre in recent history, if not ever—and a record sure to earn its name in the heavy music hall of fame.
When considering a deathcore record, several aspects become crucial to consider. Things like technicality, aggression, atmosphere, heaviness, fluidity all become things that need to be carefully balanced to achieve adequately deserved high praise. When it comes to each and every one of these criteria, Lorna Shore excel. The band have made it no secret what a challenge it has been to write, perfect and release Immortal, and it doesn’t take a music critic to distill that from the very first listen. Throughout the band’s lengthy career, they have experimented with adding blackened, symphonic and melodic elements into the death metal that serves as the backbone for their punchy, powerful brand of deathcore—where Psalms might have tipped a little heavy in one direction, and Maleficium not quite far enough, Immortal strikes the perfect balance at the crossroads of the various subgenres that serve as Lorna Shore’s melting pot. Songs like “This Is Hell” erupt out of the gate with a righteous onslaught of heaviness—led by the immaculate footwork and insanely fast hands of percussionist Austin Archey. Archey—whose skill has (somehow) only managed to grow in the years since Flesh Coffin—shines throughout Immortal, with “This Is Hell” functioning as just the tip of the iceberg. “Darkest Spawn,” alongside the epic closing cut “Immortal” further highlight his prowess, while “Warpath of Disease” sees him working brilliantly with the fretwork from Adam De Micco and Andrew O’Connor. De Micco and O’Connor lash out with immolating riffs (“Warpath of Disease” and “Mental Masterpiece” are excellent examples) and gutbusting breakdowns (see “This Is Hell” and “Relentless Torment,” among others) with equal skill and fervor. The duo strike a brilliant balance between flesh-flaying leads and more melodic overtones that give way into gruesome displays of outright heaviness. These elements blend further with the segments of symphony that shine throughout Immortal. While far from isolated, “Warpath of Disease” stands out for using a bold and catchy symphonic arrangement throughout the track as opposed to using it as a gimmick. In turn, this gives the song a much bigger feel, making the riffs and breakdowns hit harder than they might have otherwise. This tactic is used throughout Immortal, giving the record a pronounced symphonic element instead of flashy, out of place gimmicks.
While “deathcore twitter” and other pockets of social media has been ablaze with recent exposure of Lorna Shore’s former vocalist’s personal exploits, there remains no question that the vocal element throughout Immortal is nothing short of jaw-dropping. From the first lines of lead single “This Is Hell,” throughout “Darkest Spawn” and “Immortal,” nearly every vocal style imaginable is utilized with expertise, coating each and every track in a thick, near-palpable coating of grit and grime. While the vocal hooks on “This Is Hell,” “Relentless Torment” and “Warpath of Disease” are catchy as all Hell, those throughout “King ov Deception” and “Misery System” serve as perhaps the most technically impressive. Boasting a wide range with the tact and insight to be able to match the mood set throughout the mind-boggling soundscape that is Immortal’s instrumentation, Lorna Shore’s vocal aspect is practically perfect and couldn’t imaginably leave any level-headed listener wanting. When it comes to patterning, cadence, endurance and power, Immortal earns honors in each, with each song wedging its hooks deeper in the listener than the last.
What Lorna Shore have made is more than the “next step” in their impressive discography—that is to say, I don’t know that anyone is ready for what awaits them on their first foray into the bleak, blistering and brutalizing journey that is Immortal. The better part of an hour, Lorna Shore’s long-awaited and highly anticipated 2020 full length record is an immolating testament to everything a deathcore record should be. Eerie, heavy, gloomy and as gory as a Grindhouse double feature, Immortal is a relentless experience that has rightly earned its name, and thusly every ounce of hype it has accrued. Furthermore, Immortal will live on, as it seems bound to do for deathcore in this decade what acts like Oceano, Whitechapel and Glass Casket have done in decades prior.
For Fans Of: The Black Dahlia Murder, Oceano, Enterprise Earth, A Wake in Providence
By: Connor Welsh