Review: “Pain Remains” by Lorna Shore

“This was the hardest record in our career that we’ve ever had to write. 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. The biggest challenge for me was me being my own adversary. Overcoming my own self-doubt and feelings of self-worth. We’ve never wanted to be limited or meet someone’s expectations of what we’re supposed to be. That’s been the idea and the vision for the band for years. ” ~ guitarist Adam De Micco

After their previous struggles with vocalists it would have been easy for New Jersey Symphonic Deathcore brutes Lorna Shore to fade into the background, however the arrival of Will Ramos (ex-Monument of a Memory, A Wake In Providence) in 2019 to tour the bands 2020 record “Immortal” injected a shot of adrenaline into the arm of the patient. A tour with Polish Death Metal pioneers Decapitated across Europe followed by subsequent EP “…And I Return To Nothingness” and viral single “To The Hellfire” with its huge breakdown section continued the rejuvenation. That single alone has an incredible 34.5m Spotify and YouTube streams combined, something hitherto unheard of for an act of this nature and served as confirmation that not only did Ramos have the vocal prowess to go toe to toe with his predecessors but that he could spearhead the band into the future. So what next? The army of darkness marches on with “Pain Remains“, produced, mixed and mastered by Josh Schroeder (King 810, In Hearts Wake, Varials) at Random Awesome Studios…

…for the most part, less is more when it comes to Deathcore but Lorna Shore have always been an exception to every rule in the book; 2017’s “Flesh Coffin” and 2020’s “Immortal” both clocking in at around the 45 minute mark so it should come as no surprise that “Pain Remains” is a three course meal of an album. An hour long with a 20 minute, three part title track that stretches over a 20 minute period may be a daunting prospect for some in an age where the 30 second sensation of social media is rife. But a true masterpiece is something that needs time and rewards over multiple listens with intricacies that the brain simply can’t cope with as it’s too busy enjoying what it just heard to take on board the current moment. That’s what Lorna Shore have created in “Pain Remains“, a magnum opus of a record that begs for a giant auditorium of the finest magnitude to receive its performance as they once again outdo themselves in stunning fashion, taking Extreme Metal to fresh and dizzying new heights.

The overture begins with the dark orchestrations of the cinematic “Welcome Back, O Sleeping Dreamer” before the illusion is shattered by the insane percussion of Austin Archey, which takes blasting to a whole new level, accompanied by the throat splitting vocals of Ramos. The onslaught is both brutally savage and arena filling at the same time, a seemingly impossible juxtaposition, especially with the Slam inspired vocal parts at the climax. The swirling darkness continues with “Into The Earth” which has some clever melodic touches in the synths offering momentary respite from monstrous insanity of the guitar work and the plague winds emanating from the mouth of Ramos. There are times when he is so much more than simply a vocalist; his throat effectively an instrument in its own right when the lyrics become unidentifiable. Melancholic orchestrations of the rampaging  “Sun//Eater” make for a tale of self immolation underpinned by an almost overwhelming sense of sadness before a huge breakdown section pummels you into submission, the contrast between light and dark never being further apart despite both existing in the same space at the the same time. A stunning solo in the final third is evidence is simply the Chef’s Kiss.

If there was a point that you ever thought a breakdown couldn’t get bigger, then Lorna Shore continue to defy the odds of that in “Cursed To Die” which again stuns with an insane Technical Metal solo that is as warm and enchanting as the fires of hell itself. The shortest cut on the album still approaches the five minute mark with consummate ease, taking the work of other genre titans like She Must Burn and Shadow Of Intent and using it to fuel their collective fires. Stepping from Deathcore brutality into Black Metal tinged stylings “Soulless Existence” offers up something brooding without dulling the ache, taking the atmospherics into another realm of existence entirely with a stunning theatrical presence. Lorna Shore aren’t a band you listen to. They’re a band you experience. The epic magnitude of the album beggars belief and when “Apotheosis” brings the walls around you crashing to the ground with it’s tectonic plate shifting rhythmic gymnastics it feels like the darkness is making why for a light so bright it will burn your retinas. Then “Wrath” burns the flesh with the searing heat of Ramos’ larynx threatening vocal while hypnotising guitars from Andrew O’Connor and Adam De Micco intertwine, the pulsating leads and solos leaving you awestruck.

The first seven tracks make for a gargantuan beast of a record in their own right but the final three part title track deserves a paragraph of its own. Spanning a third of the albums play time, it could be an EP in its own right and the flamboyance, verve and zest which Lorna Shore show across this trio alone is jaw dropping. “Dancing Like Flames” has a haunting cinematic soundscape of orchestration upon which the harrowing lyrical narrative plays out, a brave almost clean vocal moment is brave but perfectly placed in conveying the emotion of the piece before “After All I’ve Done, I’ll Disappear” commences. Make no mistake, this isn’t three single songs but one cut into three and they flow together as effortlessly as a river does to the sea. The transitions are incredible, taking their lead from the likes of Michael Kamen before the fretboard smouldering extended solo of “In a Sea of Fire” blows the mind. A final breakdown opens a chasm in the Earth from which Ramos summons forth a demon to burn our World as the ache of the pain subsides for a fleeting moment. How Lorna Shore are going to find it within themselves to outdo this incredible piece of brutal majesty next time around is going to be the biggest challenge they face in their collective careers because “Pain Remains” is something very special [9.5/10]

Track Listing

  1. Welcome Back, O Sleeping Dreamer
  2. Into The Earth
  3. Sun//Eater
  4. Cursed To Die
  5. Soulless Existence
  6. Apotheosis
  7. Wrath
  8. Pain Remains I: Dancing Like Flames
  9. Pain Remains II: After All I’ve Done, I’ll Disappear
  10. Pain Remains III: In a Sea of Fire

Pain Remains” by Lorna Shore is out 14th October 2022 via Century Media

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