REVIEW: Shame Spiral – The Solace in Suffering [EP/2018]

Artist: Shame Spiral

Album: The Solace In Suffering – EP

Suicide is one of the most personal topics prevalent in American culture right now. If you ask ten, twenty, or two hundred people their opinion on the intentional cessation of one’s own life, you’ll get ten, twenty or two hundred different responses. It’s the nature of the thing—it varies. For some, it’s cowardly—others, selfish—and more yet selfless. For some it’s the light at the end of a long, tedious and tortuous tunnel. For others it’s a split-second decision made in a moment of extreme agony. For vicious Virginian metalcore outfit Shame Spiral, however, it resounds, abundant in the lyrical themes and bone-busting breakdowns of their sophomore release, The Solace in Suffering. Dark and aggressive from the very first panic chord, The Solace in Suffering sees Shame Spiral take on much more mature themes to match their matured, refined take on mosh-friendly traditional metalcore. Using razor-sharp riffs, ruthless two steps and frantic, fury-inducing breakdowns as a means to ensnare the ears of the heavy music loving masses, Shame Spiral have taken all the promise hinted at on their breakout effort and turned it into one of the strongest, most anthemic metalcore records 2018 has birthed.

The Solace in Suffering sees Shame Spiral taking the reputation earned by relentless touring and incessant dedication to their craft and formally earning it with a monster of a studio release. Every track takes on a complex concept that is magnificently made to fit a somewhat rudimentary and mosh-heavy framework without feeling dumbed-down or boring. Throughout the entire release, percussionist Trevor Tressler provides salvo after salvo of body-slamming percussion that hits hard enough to move mountains. From the jarring breakdown that serves as the record’s introduction, through “Mendicant” and “Stuck,” Tressler’s drumming is dynamic, adding just enough spice to keep the listener’s interest in the way of quick fills and fun patterns, but without detracting from the raw and ruthless nature of Shame Spiral’s dynamic. Tressler is aided in great part by bassist Clark Leeuwrik. Leeuwrik adds meaty weight to Tressler’s backbone, especially on “Mendicant,” where his bass can be heard booming over Tressler’s dancy, driving drum pattern. Other tracks, like the album’s outro, see Leeuwirk sticking with a more integral role within the band, ensuring that guitarist and songwriter Bailey Olinger’s guitar sounds as massive as it possibly can. Olinger’s work, like the rest of Shame Spiral, on The Solace in Suffering is nothing short of incredible, albeit not in a super-technical, shred-heavy way. Few guitarists can so effortlessly capture the essential energy of early metalcore as Olinger does on this EP, aligning himself with the likes of Bloodbather and Vatican as artists leading the charge for a resurgence of traditional metalcore. While it’s true that not much of Shame Spiral’s songwriting is inherently complicated, it all is insanely passionate and manages to bring forth aggression in an overwhelmingly sincere fashion, blending riff-driven energy with eviscerating brutality in a way that will make the scene’s old heads get nostalgic and the young jacks wish they’d been born five or six years earlier.

Where Shame Spiral take the most notable departure from their debut release is with their vocal element. Frontman Andy Reynolds (who many may know from Repressed) lends his ferocious voice and impressive presence to The Solace in Suffering to shine a light on suicidal ideation, the nature of emotional (and, for unfortunate mosh warriors, physicial) pain as well as religion. Throughout each of the tracks on The Solace in Suffering, Reynolds’ voice absolutely dominates with a thick, gruff shout that dives into a burly low bellow at the drop of a dime. “Mendicant” stands his catchiest work, while “The End is Unsettling” and “A Proposition of Death” are probably his most introspective and emotionally driven—making all of the above well worth repeated plays, at the very least. Reynolds’ hard-earned reputation in the east-coast heavy music community shines on a nation-wide level with his addition into the ranks of Shame Spiral, taking the entire band to the next level.

The Solace in Suffering is a deceptively complex and intelligent listen for an EP that has about as much mosh as three Emmure records. Packed to the brim with beefy breakdowns, boatloads of nostalgic panic chords and riffs that hit hard enough to drive home a nine-inch nail, Shame Spiral’s year-closing EP is definitely one to keep in mind for the year-end list you’ve probably already made—because I’m betting it will end up right near the top.


For Fans Of: Bloodbather, Vatican, Roseblood

By: Connor Welsh