The Loss Of Beauty, the fourth album from Italian Melodic Doom Metallers Shores Of Null, was originally set to be their third album. But given the global situation of 2020, the one-track, thirty-eight-minute, Beyond The Shores (On Death And Dying) [also reviewed here at MetalTalk], took its place, as it was seen to reflect better the doom and gloom sentiment of that ‘annus horribilis’, as both albums were recorded over the same time frame, between 2019 and early 2020.
Shores Of Null – The Loss Of Beauty (Spikerot Records!)
Release Date: 24 March 2023
Words: Jools Green
Beyond The Shores (On Death And Dying) is a hugely ambitious and hard album to follow. I was aware of Shores Of Null prior to its release, but that album really grabbed my attention, so I approached The Loss Of Beauty with mixed emotions, those of both excitement and trepidation. Given the massively bleak shadow cast by such a superb Doom offering it was following, it was undeniably one of the best, if not the best, Doom offerings I have ever heard to date.
Happily, The Loss Of Beauty still continues in that dark, tempestuous and melancholic vein of its predecessor and is once again an impressive release. Consisting of eleven tracks (plus two bonus tracks), it brings with it, once again, moments that will leave the listener as equally impressed and moved as they were with Beyond The Shores.
With lyrics that “celebrate beauty in imperfection and transience and are meant to be an invitation to seek beauty in little things, especially those unexpected and ephemeral,” vocalist Davide Straccione takes his inspiration from daily life, particularly stories with a deep emotional meaning. It’s often the mood of the musical element of a song that inspires him to write about a certain topic, as writing lyrics with a melody in mind allows him to visualize what he wants to express. Also, some of the lyrics were inspired by conversations with Martina (Sanda Movies) about ideas they had for some of their videos, linking the music, the words, and the images together more closely.
There is certainly plenty of beauty to find within this fifty-four-minute release. Lyrically it’s wonderfully poetic, albeit in an often bleak and mournful way, but it is a Doom album after all and vocally, Davide delivers these lyrics with powerful, often heart-tearing passion, with a clarity of content, whether it’s clean vocals or growls, alongside an abundance of hauntingly emotive, doomily melodic riffing.
The album includes the four singles released prior to the album; the bleakly reflective but hugely moving and powerful, Nothing Left To Burn, the equally moving The Last Flower with its organically flowing, beautifully haunting repeat melody, possibly my favourite track of the album, although it’s a difficult choice.
The catchy Destination Woe with a mid-paced haunting driving repeat at its core and probably the most moving track, the powerful punchy driver with its haunting undercurrent, and My Darkest Years, which is inspired by stories told to guitarist Raffaele Colace by his grandfather, a WWII veteran. “He was taken prisoner in Russia,” Colace says, “but he managed to escape, and he travelled all the way to Greece, where he hid for a few years in the countryside, in a swamp between the trees, sometimes in a pigpen.
“In his stories, he told of a woman that brought him a piece of bread every now and then, thus saving him from hunger. Although he managed to escape and survive the war and return to his family in Italy, sorrow never left him for the rest of his life. Whenever he recalled these memories, his eyes were full of tears, and we know for sure that the horrors he saw were way bigger than anything he was able to tell.”
The rest of the album comprises, firstly, the short scene-setting haunting instrumental intro Transitory. Darkness Won’t Take Me, which has a darker mood to open that re-emerges across the track, elevating to a more haunting melodic feel and Old Scars, with its hypnotic melodic drive, dropping reflectively away midway through, opening out to equally reflective leadwork.
Opening on simple piano notes and baby cries, The First Son is a haunting instrumental of just piano and strings, beautifully reflective and effective, melding seamlessly into A Nature In Disguise with its sharp, powerful undercurrent with melodic elements woven in. The midpoint screams really take you by surprise. They are so superbly caustic, during which the riffs become slightly blackened, a stunning track.
No time is wasted as Shores Of Null burst straight into the hauntingly melodic Fading As One, which has a subtle ebb and build, becoming intensely powerful with the arrival of the midpoint growls and A New Death Is Born pounds its way through with rhythmic drum work, expanding into haunting riffs that echo the drum work and Davide’s deep growls develop into deep screams that cut through the riffing. An astoundingly powerful statement piece.
The two bonus tracks, available with the CD and digital format only, are first, the fascinatingly convoluted Underwater Oddity, a gritty chugger to open, turning melodic with the arrival of the clean vocals and becoming more driving with the arrival of the growls and closing on the stormy piano instrumental outro Blazing Sunlight.
The Loss Of Beauty is recommended for fans of dark and melancholic Metal, especially fans of bands like Swallow The Sun, Insomnium and Borknagar. It’s a magnificently powerful, emotive and rewarding listen.