October 10, 2022 Lorna Shore – Pain Remains (Album Review)
Few bands in any genre have a Cinderella story the likes of Lorna Shore. From humble New Jersey beginnings to bringing Extreme Metal to Lollapalooza, their rags-to-riches story could easily be titled “The Little Deathcore Band That Could.” So, those in the know are desperate to get their hands on their highly anticipated latest, Pain Remains, which arrives on Friday, October 14, 2022, thanks to Century Media.
At this point, lovers of brutally heavy music likely know the bulk of their story. Formed in 2010, in Warren County, the band released a trio of EPs between 2010-2013, before offering up their debut full-length, Psalms, in 2015. Toiling away on the local and national scene, opening for the likes of Carnifex and The Black Dahlia Murder, their dogged determination peaked when 2017’s Flesh Coffin began to raise their stakes. However, before a third full-length could be recorded, they lost their vocalist, Tom Barber, to Chelsea Grin. Not long after, Guitarist Connor Deffley exited the fold, as well.
A new frontman was brought in, but his time with the band was short, and his quick departure would nearly spell doom for Immortal. Delayed but finally released in January 2020, the record’s surprising success would serve as a catalyst for a dramatic change in circumstances. Suddenly at the forefront of all things deathly, Lorna Shore had found a gem in former A Wake in Providence frontman Will Ramos. With this ‘kid on fire’ at their helm, they delivered 2021’s …And I Return to Nothingness EP, and with it came world domination.
For mainstays Adam De Micco (guitar) and Austin Archey (drums), who have weathered the storm with grace, the arrival of their fourth full-length, Pain Remains, is nothing short of a celebration. Now with a solid line-up—capped off by Guitarist Andrew O’Connor and Bassist Michael Yeager—their latest is a testament to passion and perseverance. Produced by longtime collaborator Josh Schroeder (In Hearts Wake, Varials), the 10-song collection maintains the Lorna Shore ‘mystique’ by coupling intensely poetic, intelligent lyrics with labyrinthine guitars and inhuman, deviant growls.
Immersion into the world of Lorna Shore begins with “Welcome Back, O’ Sleeping Dreamer.” It’s an admittedly ballsy move to open two albums in a row with a nearly seven-and-a-half-minute-long epic, but this is a band that has never shirked the dramatic. Case in point, Ramos, with his paranormal vocals, is a magnificently demonic presence. You won’t miss it when he steps on stage amid his bandmates’ superb instrumentation and pummeling blast beats, as well as their backbone of synth-phonic orchestration.
The sound is mind-blowingly massive, an irrefutable testament to their talents. In the span of just one track, Ramos embodies the techniques of at least three separate vocalists as he slaughters the melodies woven from De Micco’s guitar. A prime example of this, “Into the Earth,” the second single/video for the album, displays Ramos’ multitude of beastly personalities within its first few seconds. Meanwhile, tracks such as “Soulless Existence” see Ramos and De Micco racing one another through a maze of synths, resonating sadness through each note of preternatural beauty. In this, they work in tandem to drag listeners down into the oubliette of sadness and suffering, a place where agony will thrive eternally.
But there is an enchanting spirit to what they do, as well. Mute the vocals on Pain Remains and you have a groundbreaking cinematic experience. Lorna Shore is truly at their savage and scorching finest on tracks like “Sun//Eater,” where their incorporation of synth-authored orchestration adds a melodic complement to the band’s mythologically-dusted storytelling. From the heavenly chorus welcoming listeners into “Apotheosis” to the emotional “Pain Remains” trilogy and back to “Welcome Back, O’ Sleeping Dreamer” and “Into the Earth,” the sonic layers are dense with visceral emotion and provocative narratives. To boil it all down to one adjective, these ten tracks are absolutely funereal.
So, by these standards, the orgiastic symphony of “Cursed to Die,” the album’s third single/video, feels nearly balladesque. Of course, it’s not, and neither is the Stygian evil that emanates from “Wrath.” However, instead of traveling further into the hellish inferno, they opt to conclude the album with the “Pain Remains” trilogy. Nearly 21-minutes of dredging up varying emotions, it opens to the initial delicacy of “Pain Remains I: Dancing Like Flames.” With an extreme shift toward the gossamer in its beginning notes, and the closest we get to clean vocals from Ramos, it serves as a demonstration of the opposing perspective to the quintet’s Extreme Metal abilities. It is, too, an open-heart moment for Lyricist De Micco, who allows listeners a window into his vulnerability, sharing his anger and sadness, confusion and anxiety.
Its elegance is annihilated with “Pain Remains II: After All I’ve Done, I’ll Disappear,” a threnody to loss and mortality. Guitars weeping steel tears, it finds Lorna Shore losing themselves in the throes of their sonic narrative. And by the time it culminates in the nine-minute “Pain Remains III: In a Sea of Fire,” there’s nothing left to be said. Once through the hellfire, we exit with an ethereal cleanse that is as stunning as it is refreshing.
Good luck picking a favorite track! It goes without saying that by the time Pain Remains comes to its glorious conclusion, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. Perhaps you’re even laughing at how satisfying a collection of music can be when you’ve been able to grasp maybe a dozen lines of lyrics throughout your entire first listen. A second listen will be necessary, even a third, as losing the lyrical content under the rushing tide is a disservice to Lorna Shore’s art.
Poets of the macabre who defy Deathcore while elevating Death Metal, their latest is an immense collection: 10 songs that last just over an hour and take listeners on a mind-boggling journey the likes of which only Lorna Shore could hope to craft. Cliché as it may be, they have cemented their niche by expertly placing the ‘fun’ back into Funereal Metal. And their balance of gorgeous obliteration and haunting instrumentation is the best thing to happen to Extreme Metal in years! For this, Cryptic Rock gives Pain Remains 5 out of 5 stars.