Haunted Shores - Void review
|Release date:||March 2022|
03. When In Oslo
05. Perpetual Windburn
08. Nocturnal Hours
When left to their own devices, Periphery’s guitarists go hard.
Misha Mansoor and Mark Holcomb have found considerable success with Periphery, the poster boys of djent. Although Periphery were influenced, like all djent bands, by Meshuggah and do feature some vicious low-end grooves, they don’t particularly dabble in more extreme metal territory, particularly since Periphery II onwards. However, there’s clearly a taste for such styles on the part of these guitarists; Holcomb regularly sports Emperor and other black metal merch, at the very least. As such, it’s perhaps not a shock that Void, the full-length debut from their project Haunted Shores, pushes the intensity a bit more than Periphery do.
Now, I’ve just called this their debut full-length; I’m not entirely sure on that, as I’ve seen some reviews refer to their 2011 self-titled release as their full-length debut, but that album (based on the few records of its existence that I can find online; Haunted Shores clearly don’t have any interest in people listening to Haunted Shores given how unavailable it is) seems to have been half-filled with instrumental demos and Final Fantasy covers, so it's presumably more of an EP/demo release. The project, which features Holcomb playing guitar and Mansoor playing guitar, bass and synths, and programming the drums, has been active before this record though, most notably with 2015’s Viscera EP (which is only 5 minutes shorter than this, so the whole classification of their releases seems pretty whack).
You may have noticed that I didn’t mention anyone handling vocals when describing each individual’s contributions, and that’s because this is an instrumental project; guest vocalists have appeared on previous songs (Devin Townsend featured on a track on Viscera), but they’re absent here. Now, an instrumental djent album is not going to appeal to everybody by any means, but Haunted Shores have a bit more about them that might bridge some divides. It’s clear when listening to tracks such as “When In Oslo” and “Immaterial” (which featured on that self-titled release, with Good Tiger’s Elliot Coleman performing guest vocals) that core components of the Periphery writing base are behind this project, with lots of contorted time signatures and dense djent riffing. However, as I’ve alluded to, there is more ferocity here; “When In Oslo” has blast beats and tremolo, “Hellfire” fluctuates between djent and Obscura-style tech-death, and “OnlyFangs” has a fiery blackened climax. “Perpetual Windburn” pushes those tech-death and blackened elements perhaps further than any song, with a balls-to-the-wall aggression accentuated by programmed drums that would challenge the most seasoned hyperspeed drummers.
Still, Void has more to it than intensity; “Null” and “Void” are new sounds for the Periphery guys, but in a different way. The sparseness of “Null” and its echoing guitars make me think of some of Cult Of Luna’s more spacious tracks, particularly “Marching To The Heartbeats”, while “Void” takes the bare bones of “Null” and fleshes them out into a lush, evocative, string-accentuated post-rock track. They make for a really effective double-pairing, with the title track setting things up nicely for the excellent closing song. “Nocturnal Hours” bears an uncanny resemblance to Blackwater Park-era Opeth with its main riff, and the synths that are layered on top of this track really take it to another level compared with the rest of the record, particularly when Shining (NOR)’s Jørgen Munkeby rocks up on saxophone near the end.
The tracks I’ve highlighted in the last paragraph really help elevate Void; I naturally struggle to truly click with instrumental-only albums (I don’t think it’s necessarily just the lack of vocals, but the fact that the tracks are lacking vocals influences the way they’re structured in a way that slightly hinders emotional impact and memorability), but Void stands out against most that I’ve heard in the past few years. Mansoor and Holcomb are really talented musicians, and it’s enlightening to see what they get up to when they’re uninhibited outside of Periphery.
||Written on 17.03.2022 by Hey chief let's talk why not|
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