Lorna Shore - Pain Remains review
|Release date:||October 2022|
01. Welcome Back, O' Sleeping Dreamer
02. Into The Earth
04. Cursed To Die
05. Soulless Existence
08. Pain Remains I: Dancing Like Flames
09. Pain Remains II: After All I've Done, I'll Disappear
10. Pain Remains III: In A Sea Of Fire
Shadow Of Intent really laid down the gauntlet to the army of symphonic deathcore bands right at the beginning of 2022… can Lorna Shore rise to the challenge?
For me, the two bands I mentioned above were not only the first two that I really clicked with from the symphonic deathcore scene that became increasingly popular within the past few years, but also the only two that I really find myself returning to on a regular basis. Both got me hooked fairly recently, the former with 2019’s Melancholy and the latter with the following year’s Immortal, and I’ve anticipated their follow-ups since. Shadow Of Intent, for their part, knocked it out of the part with Elegy, and given the explosion in popularity Lorna Shore had in the wake of last year’s breakthrough hit “To The Hellfire”, the expectation was for them to follow suit.
Still, it’s not been the smoothest journey so far for Lorna Shore; Flesh Coffin went down well (with others more than myself), but vocalist Tom Barber then left to join Chelsea Grin. Replacement CJ McCreery hung around just long enough to record Immortal and see the hugely positive response to the album’s pre-release singles before he was booted due to less than savoury allegations coming to light. There has ultimately come to be a silver lining to this cloud of turmoil, as the band have found a replacement in Will Ramos (formerly Monument Of A Memory) that has taken them to another level musically. Ramos effectively made himself the definitive Lorna Shore vocalist within 6 minutes when “To The Hellfire” first dropped; now, it’s time to cement the partnership with a full-length album, and Pain Remains delivers on that front, albeit with some minor reservations.
Although it’s perhaps lazy to rely on comparisons to Shadow Of Intent, the bands don’t help themselves; both Elegy and Pain Remains are around an hour long, and both conclude with a three-part title track suite. However, there’s 3 fewer songs on Pain Remains, and given that there were no interludes on Elegy, this of course means Long Songs. 9 of 10 tracks range between 4:40 and 7:20 minutes, so, despite the relentless frenetic pace of this album’s music, there are no ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ tracks. From the start and pretty much throughout, there is a general template that is stuck to by the band: dramatic synths and choirs, ballistic drumming and riffs, monstruous vocals, and the odd crawling breakdown.
There are upsides and downsides to this. One thing that I admired about Elegy was the variety it had, and how this enabled so many of the songs to stand out. In comparison, the lack of variety and decidedly unsubtle writing of Lorna Shore, when maintained across such a long record, does mean that it takes a few listens to really begin to familiarize oneself with the individual tracks. Perhaps highlighting this, the few moments that stood out on initial playthroughs were those that saw the band reuse some of their already established tropes, such as the ‘everyone cuts out at the start of the chorus apart from vocals and lead guitar melody, then there’s an explosion of blasts’ trick from “Of The Abyss” that returns on “Pain Remains III: In A Sea Of Fire”. I also wonder at times whether the symphonic bombast that’s thrown into to the songs, while adding an exciting immediacy and grandeur, does serve to mask some limitations in songwriting memorability. Finally, I do find the obligatory breakdowns to sometimes be detrimental to the momentum of tracks, and there’s none here that have the standalone jawdropping impact of the ending of “To The Hellfire”.
Still, in spite of all these issues I found myself juggling with when listening to this album, on the whole I do like it a lot. Not as much as Elegy, but all that ballistic intensity and dramatic flamboyance that I nitpicked in the last paragraph does still make for some very exciting songs. And despite my gripes, there is some pacing and showmanship on display here; it’s a long build into opening track “Welcome Back, O’ Sleeping Dreamer”, and when the band comes in properly, that suspense is gifted with an emphatic payoff. There’s great moments to be heard in terms of solos (towards the end of the same song), frenetic technical riffs (“Into The Earth”), memorable melodies (“Soulless Existence”, a good shout for the album’s strongest ‘regular’ song), and all of this is delivered with immense musicianship and a tour de force from Will Ramos behind the microphone.
The one portion of the tracklist that merits real attention, however, is that closing trilogy. Without any especially long songs prior to this point, a 20-minute combined piece is an ambitious effort, particularly when one of those parts is 9 minutes just by itself. “Pain Remains I: Dancing Like Flames” is arguably the brightest and shiniest song on the record, and the semi-spoken word break near the end won’t work for everyone, but I really dig the effective melodicism of this track, and part II sustains that melody in a darker, more malevolent form. It’s on “Pain Remains III: The Sea Of Fire”, however, where Lorna Shore go all in on all fronts, from the extended orchestral introduction right through to the big emphatic finale. On an album where there’s a persistent lingering feeling of ideas being repeated, having this big grandiose encapsulation of everything the band are currently about right at the end of Pain Remains turns it into an impressive manifesto going forward.
I’m still not quite sure how to rate this album; I’m torn between wanting to go higher due to just how enjoyable and technically impressive it is, and feeling I need to go lower because of the lack of variety and memorability. If those issues persist on subsequent records, I expect I will come to judge them more harshly, but for now, I’m opting for a score that, despite my reservations, reflects my positive sentiments towards Pain Remains, an album perfectly positioned to sustain the band’s current momentum. If you’re already on board the hype train, I imagine you’ll feast upon this record.
||Written on 13.10.2022 by|
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