Artist: Shores of Elysium
Album: Entity in the Void
Anxiously, you awake—washed ashore on a distant beach of an alternate consciousness, and indeed, an alternate world. Your perception of the world around you is dulled, and all of your senses: your ability to perceive this new, foreign land all the way to the feeling of the tongue in your mouth seem…almost as if they were wrapped in Styrofoam. This is the sort of energetic, frenzied bewilderment inflicted upon the listener by technical deathcore outfit Shores of Elysium, on their latest full-length album, Entity in the Void. Jam-packed with twisting, gut-wrenching grooves, blistering blast beats and slamming, skin-rending sections of sinister shred, Entity in the Void is a genre-defining release that will leave the listener beaten, battered and blissfully bloodied by the best that technical deathcore has to offer.
At the forefront of Shores of Elysium’s assault on the listener’s sanity lies their uncanny instrumentation. Entity in the Void is home to an entire arsenal of unending technicality—from the soul-shredding riffs that kick off “Entity in the Void,” to the catchy—yet haunting—hyperambient and atmospheric riff that reoccurs throughout “Transhumanist,” the guitars throughout Entity in the Void are at the upper-echelon of what the genre has to offer. “Transhumanist” in particular blends catchy, clever songwriting with over-the-top amounts of heavy-hitting and groove-friendly riffing that would make Within the Ruins proud. All the while, as the furiously-fretted riffs punch holes in the listener’s brain and take over their mind, the absolutely lacerating percussion and bouncy, booming bass guitar provide low-end, gory grooves that rip out the listener’s intestines and make a home in their gut. “Awaken the Sirens” is another track that stands out in this regard—as blisteringly technical drumming sets a punctual pace for the galloping bass and light-speed shredding of the guitar to keep time with.
Entity in the Void’s emphasis on top-tier instrumentation by no means marginalizes Shores of Elysium’s vocal element, however. A comprehensive array of guttural growls and fierce, visceral screams constantly berates the listener, working at times with the guitar to slice open the listener’s skin and spill the contents of their veins. “Mindsculpt” in particular is one track that showcases the vocalist’s insane ability to toggle from low-down-and-dirty growls to sky-high and terrifying screams at the drop of a hat. The vocals, in many aspects find themselves sharing the stage with the guitars, serving at times as another instrument in the war on the listener’s sanity, constantly whittling away at their ability to form cognitive thought. It is only when the vocals are not present that the listener realizes what a powerful component they play in Shores of Elysium’s dynamic. While they might not be as attention-grabbing or concentric to the album’s flow as the voracious fretwork and grimy grooves brought by the guitars, the portions of Entity in the Void which lack a vocal element feel, far and away, more hollow than those with roaring screams and harsh yells.
The ability of the vocalist to work in such subtle synchronization with the guitars and drums as an “instrumental element” is part of what makes Shores of Elysium’s dynamic different from the likes of their peers. Were it not for this fine-tuned skill, Entity in the Void might very well sound like a nameless, faceless lost album from the early years of Beneath the Massacre or Within the Ruins. However, it is the driving kick provided by the vocals, alongside the masterful musicianship of the guitars, bass and drums—and how smoothly they fuse—that sets Shores of Elysium apart. However, at times, even such a fluid and flowing shred-to-groove dynamic lends itself to stagnation. There are portions of the album—“Vulture Horticulture” and “Xenogenesis” in particular—which seem contrived and repetitive. These moments, though, are offset by the brilliance found in the tracks that surround them: the heart-hollowing heaviness of “Transhumanist,” or the shock to the system that is “Entity in the Void,” for example. The take away message is that while parts of Entity in the Void are mind numbing in the wrong kind of way, most of the album is mind numbing in the right kind of way, which more than makes up for the slight misstep in songwriting.
Lost. Beaten. Broken. Confused. All of these describe the listener after their first listen through the latest release by Shores of Elysium, Entity in the Void. However, after repeated listens and invasive mental manipulation, the listener finds a strange solace in the absolutely soul-devouring dynamic of this technically devastating deathcore juggernaut. Brutalizing breakdowns, gut-busting grooves and skull-busting shred all combine as one to create one of the most balanced and intense technical deathcore releases to date.
For Fans Of: Within the Ruins, Beneath the Massacre, Nexilva, Rose Funeral
By: Connor Welsh