REVIEW: Shadow of Intent – Primordial [2016]


Artist: Shadow of Intent 

Album: Primordial


There are countless theories as to how life began—be it by way of divine inspiration or cosmic event. One such theory that aligns itself in the latter category surmises that life began from a figurative “stew” of chemicals responsible for cellular function, catalyzed by interaction with an oxygen-rich atmosphere. This theory is aptly named the “primordial stew” theory—and while it sounds laughable, it was the scientific explanation for some time. This theory has an analogy in the formation of new bands from their collective influences. Imagine for a moment that Cattle Decapitation, The Black Dahlia Murder and Make them Suffer were all melted down and strewn across a magma-hot firmament of molten earth. This stew (bear with me) begins to cool, taking shape once stirred with creativity and originality and given time to grow. What do you get? New England studio metal-gone-extreme, Shadow of Intent. The sinister, energetic and eviscerating bastard child of slamming brutality and technical lethality, Shadow of Intent’s sophomore release, Primordial, is an epic foray into symphonic, slamming deathcore. Complete with lengthy, full tracks and beautiful displays of build-up and breakdown, Primordial is the band’s previous work condensed, melted down and re-shaped into one of the most engaging adventures the genre has seen yet.

With such a mammoth sound and belligerent sense of brutish force, it seems difficult to imagine that Shadow of Intent is a studio project between two individuals—with all of the instrumentation coming from just one man. Unlikely as it may seem, that is indeed the case—as all the stellar fretwork and punishing programmed percussion pours forth from the fingers of Chris Wiseman alone. Also a chief songwriter in Connecticut  metalcore act Currents, Primordial sees Wiseman attacking the listener with less progression and more pure, immense aggression—with a stronger emphasis on technicality. From the first licks of “The Prelude to Bereavement,” throughout sprawling anthems like “The Didact’s Will” (Halo fans picking up on anything?) and especially during the instrumental epic “The Aftermath in Jat-Krula,” Wiseman’s talents know no bounds. On one hand, his programmed drumming is incredible, yet believable. Rather than roaring on all cylinders, sacrificing any sense of practicality, Wiseman knocks the listener’s socks off with patterns, fills and skin-shredding blast beats that could actually happen—albeit at the hands of someone remarkably gifted behind the kit. This is likely due to the assistance of Matt Kohanowski of Dealey Plaza, who adds a human element to Shadow of Intent’s otherwise star-bound speed and skill. Where Wiseman truly shines is his marvelous fretwork, especially as it works with his penchant for symphonic, atmospheric keys and synth work. The intro to “The Prelude to Bereavement” sees the two working especially well—as does the mile-per-minute nature of “The Invoking of the Execution of Worlds.” Just as strong as Wiseman’s speed are his moments of slam-tinted, bone-bruising brutality. “The Cosmic Inquisitor” is one excellent example—as are the beefy breakdowns that dot “The Last Bastion” and “The Indexing.” The point is simple: Wiseman is a warrior both behind the computer and while armed with his guitar, making Shadow of Intent a well-rounded, wonderfully engaging display of symphonic deathcore.

Shadow of Intent’s compliment to Wiseman’s wondrous skill manifests itself as frontman Ben Duerr—a voice which frankly shouldn’t require introduction. Dominating Primordial with the all-encompassing range of Enterprise Earth’s Dan Watson and the unstoppable stamina and power of Cattle Decapitation’s Travis Ryan. If you don’t believe me, listen to “The Cosmic Inquistor,” featuring Watson himself—or compare Duerr’s devilish growls pummeling the listener at Mach speeds during “The Battle of the Maginot Sphere.” Duerr is, simply put, the undiscovered gem of extreme deathcore, just as proficient with ear-splitting screeches as he is with earth-shaking low bellows—bringing it all together with uncanny endurance that could outrun and outlast an Olympic marathon runner. With his unstoppable performance during the aforementioned “Maginot Sphere,” as well as his relentless attack held during “The Cosmic Inquistor,” by the time Primordial is complete, there should be no question in the listener’s head that Duerr’s voice is a more than fair competitor for the ranks of Ryan, Watson, Allen and their peers.

Even those who aren’t big fans of symphonic deathcore have things to take away from Shadow of Intent’s latest full length. Primordial may be a bit long and intense for novices of the genre to make it through in one sitting, but even those with moderate experience in one of heavy music’s more challenging niche styles will find themselves glued to their headphones or speakers, hinging on every sickening syllable Duerr spits, and every brain-melting riff Wiseman crafts. To try and claim that one song defines the album would be a lie—as Primordial is a comprehensive experience that demands to be heard in full. From its subtle beginning to its cataclysmic conclusion, Shadow of Intent’s epic full length release is a comprehensive display of flesh-shredding aggression and skull-shattering technicality; it is one of the strongest testaments to symphonic deathcore the genre has ever seen, and likely will ever see.



For Fans Of: Cattle Decapitation, Before the Harvest, The Black Dahlia Murder, Nexilva, Make them Suffer

By: Connor Welsh