Artist: Lorna Shore
Album: Maleficium – EP
Surely, this is just a misunderstanding. A joke. It has to be—I mean, it wouldn’t be a very funny joke, but a joke all the same, right? Frantically, you attempt to rationalize what’s happening. Mobs of angered citizens, faces painted with every shade of rage and fury imaginable, storm your humble abode, grab, gag and bind you, affixing you to a sturdy—no, adamant—wooden pole. You are accused of witchcraft and blasphemy. You are going nowhere. You will burn. This situation paints the picture of the unsuspecting listener at the onset of Maleficium, the latest EP by deathcore heavyweights Lorna Shore. With the vengeful fury and hate-driven energy of ten thousand bitter townsfolk and the looming, brooding atmosphere of the Salem Witch Trials, Maleficium assaults the listener, cutting them open with well-honed and razor sharp shred, only to pour salty, sludgy heaviness into their wounds.
You find yourself anchored in the center of the town, your wooden anchor embedded firmly into the earth—a spark lit beneath your feet. Squirming, pleading, sobbing, you try to reason with a jeering crowd through the tediously bound gag. Please, you grunt. If I could do any kind of black magic, I’d be free from this Hell. I’d have never let you take me to begin with.
Try as you might, your words come out as nothing but garbled sound.
And the more you squirm, the deeper the ties cut into your skin.
Lorna Shore bind and gag the listener with blunt, brutalizing instrumentation that digs deep into their flesh with portions of punishingly sharp technicality. Even as “Godmaker” begins, subtle and cautious, that only lasts long enough for Lorna Shore to light a fire under the listener, as the rest of Maleficium is an inferno so sweltering, it could melt the polar ice caps. “Cre(h)ate” is a stunning example of this—as is the latter portion of “Godmaker.” Plodding, crushing percussion booms and bangs away, as guitar and bass race rampantly overtop—attacking with everything from sinister, shredding riffs to immense, unstoppable chugs. As blast beats batter the listener into submission with machine-gun speed, the guitars never fail to keep pace, constantly riffing and grooving away, with booming, cantankerous bass to add a visceral, tangible low-end to it all—fueling the flames that are Maleficium as they begin to rise higher.
As the fire started beneath your feet grows brighter and hotter, the sweat that covered your feet begins to spread upwards. The flames begin to tickle and lick at your toes—and your attempts to reason turn inevitably to screams of pain. You can feel the flesh on your soles start to boil—your blood hissing at it evaporates and escapes your emulsified pores. If this is a joke, you think to yourself, this punch line fucking sucks. Maleficium intensifies with one of the best vocal performances on any heavy release of 2013—and likely earlier. Shrieked screams contrast with crushing, guttural bellows to fit the mood of the instrumentation. In this respect, Lorna Shore doesn’t give the listener any form of a reprieve during the entire twenty-minute run time of Maleficium. While the instrumentation is incessant in providing a haunting, crushing atmosphere, the vocal performance adds a razor-sharp precision to it that digs deep into the listener’s flesh and bleeds them dry. Maleficium’s title track, along with the climactic breakdown of “Cre(h)ate” prove this point beautifully, as the vocals accompany the instrumentation with lethal precision, creating an immersive, unstoppable juggernaut of sound that robs the listener of their senses and their sanity in one fell swoop.
Suddenly, a creak—the flames have worn through your support system, this scaffold composed of wood and misunderstanding. Within seconds, the charred base gives way to your squirming, struggling weight. Your eyes widen, and with a long, earsplitting shriek, you begin to tip downwards, into a bed made with blankets of fire and coals. The coals scald your flesh, you can feel your hair smoldering, smelling your keratin and melanin melting and oozing. This slow burn is the lingering effect of Maleficium’s magnificence. The true beauty to behold in Lorna Shore’s latest release is two-fold. Primarily, it is how completely comprehensive this release feels. For a deceptively brief runtime, Maleficium provides an immersive and intensive deathcore tour-de-force. True, it isn’t necessarily the lengthy release many of the bands might have anticipated, but upon listening to it, Maleficium sears into the listener’s skull and stays branded there with all the power and intensity of a full-length release. Second, this album is a completely renovated look at deathcore as the listener knows it—or at least as it comes from these New Jersey juggernauts. While Bone Kingdom was impressive, it left the listener desiring something, even if that something wasn’t completely tangible. Maleficium, however, delivers anything and everything the listener could possibly want from Lorna Shore—or any deathcore act. Indeed, Maleficium is a monolith to the mastery of technically proficient, punishingly heavy deathcore—a bastion that stands far above its contemporaries.
The coals kept burning long after the flesh was seared away—your bones lay scattered: charred and left in disregard in the town center. You are no more—misunderstanding or not, you have been tried, found guilty, and treated as such. Lorna Shore’s Maleficium is just that: judge, jury and executioner, deeming the listener unworthy of their senses, sanity and life. Maleficium is nothing but pure deathcore mastery, laden with lurid, grotesque heaviness and eviscerating, belligerent technicality. Lorna Shore do not simply lay waste to the listener, but to false deathcore idols as well.
For Fans Of: Sleep Serapis, Sleep, Molotov Solution, The Black Dahlia Murder, Ingested
By: Connor Welsh