Lorna Shore is a band that divides opinion, but regardless of your view, they are a band very much on an upward trajectory. The New Jersey outfit have been quietly building momentum since their formation in 2010 but were catapulted into the spotlight following the release of 2021’s And I Return to Nothingness EP, which spawned the viral phenomenon To The Hellfire – currently on over 23 million listens on Spotify. All of this happened during a time of transition for the band.
Lorna Shore – Pain Remains (Century Media Records)
Release Date: 14 October 2022
Words: Paul Hutchings
With Will Ramos, the band’s third vocalist in just over a decade, joined by new bassist Michael Yager, the current line-up is completed by De Micco, drummer Austin Archey and rhythm guitarist Andrew O’Connor. It’s not a surprise that Achey has described Pain Remains as a rebirth. “It feels like a rebirth of everything for us – the energy, the band, the morale.”
Pain Remains was a difficult record to make, according to guitarist Adam De Micco. “We were no longer in the underdog position. Because of the EP and ‘…Hellfire’, we knew we had to top ourselves. It was a different kind of pressure. For me, the mental struggle was being seen in a new light. We had to make sure that we weren’t going to be seen as some flickering flame.”
Welcome Back, O Sleeping Dreamer begins the tsunami. Orchestra and choir combine in dramatic fashion, the intro building before the first of a multitude of unearthly Ramos roars spews forth. Rapid fire drumming combines with savage riffing. The tempo is unconventional, switching from a Black Metal pace to pounding slow breakdowns, whilst behind the maelstrom swirls symphonic segments, sweeping strings and arrangements that provide an unnatural juxtaposition. Frantic lead breaks burst through, demonstrating the quality that De Micco possesses.
The frenetic pace of Into the Earth, the blistering blastbeats, the fury that Ramos spits out, whilst all the time competing with the soaring choral bursts and orchestral arrangements, is relentless. The vocals switch between cookie monster and gruff ‘in yer boots’ roars. To the uninitiated, it’s a wall of sound. You can appreciate their view.
At 60 minutes in length, Pain Remains is not an easy listen. It’s brutally heavy, sometimes organ-crushingly so. Ramos’s vocals can be challenging, such is the harshness of the delivery. It’s a sound that blends the sonic majesty of Black Metal with the bludgeoning force of Death Metal and the aggression of Metalcore. As such, many will be unable to withstand the onslaught that is released.
And yet, there are magnificently heavy passages that hit right in the core. Sun Eater is explosive, a vicious rage of expression and emotion that erupts and only slows to deliver even bigger breakdowns, the intensity such that you can feel your organs shift. Soulless Existence provides some calmer moments but still tears and rips at the guts. The arrangements are complex, intricate, and visceral. The riffs crash down like falling trees. It is simply a punishing record.
It’s ambitious – none more so than the three-part piece that closes the album. Drawing on personal experiences, the Pain Remains suite builds dramatically, opening raw and savage wounds which are drawn from personal experience.
“I always wanted to write a really sad Death Metal song, a Deathcore love song,” Ramos says. “When I first heard the music, it had so much emotion – have you ever fallen in love in a dream and woken up and realised that none of it was real? It’s about chasing that emotion.” Twenty minutes later, you should be breathless and destroyed. It’s that demanding.
Having moved to headliner status at club level across Europe, delivered successful festival sets and also earned many more fans following their recent tour with Parkway Drive and While She Sleeps [Read our review of their Cardiff show here] this is an album that promised to be of gargantuan proportions.
It needed to be. And it certainly is. Extreme? For certain. Challenging and confusing? Most definitely. Pain Remains is one of the most divisive albums of 2022. But if you get what Lorna Shore do, it just might also be the favourite one of the year too.