Lorna Shore: if you’re not a big fan of deathcore (and let’s be honest, you probably aren’t) you either have never heard of the band, or only know them because of that fucking cat video. That changes today. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but these guys have something special going on – or at least they seemed to after 2012’s Bone Kingdom EP. They’re definitely core – the singer’s earlobes could be used to bundle asparagus and those blast beats sure as hell aren’t acoustic – yet also, well, really good.
Hear me out; despite everyone hating deathcore, there’s still some good to be made of it, and Lorna Shore is out to prove that. They’re not a band that’s innovative, clever, or even unique, yet they somehow manage to consistently write material that’s just plain good. By combining a more old-school (read: not shitty) deathcore sound with thrashy and melodic riffs (yes, riffs!) and technical but not ostentatious leads, the Jersey boys have confounded my tepid expectations with their previous EPs and their debut, Psalms has been expected for some time here in Tartarus.
If you haven’t already, watch that F. cattus jump around for a while and introduce yourself to the catchiest breakdown ever. It’s not especially smart. It’s not especially innovative. It’s n-STAY OUT OF MY FACE. YOU MEAN NOTHING TO ME.
That pretty much sums it up. Lorna Shore doesn’t traffic in the abstract violence of Baring Teeth or the absurd technicality of Rings of Saturn. They don’t have the pioneering vision of Gorguts or the social awareness of Cattle Decapitation. But right from the onset Psalms is just a fucking blast. The stumbling tempos and symphonic scope of “Grimoire” portend the fury and chaos that feeds the entirety of the album; while ostensibly disorganized, it’s a great example of the band doing more with more. “White Noise” and “Throne of Worms” round off an impressive opening to Psalms, experimenting with more atmosphere and showing off the band’s impeccably tight production and riffing. “From the Pale Mist” continues with one of the album’s most recognizable melodies and a remarkable mix of creeping breakdowns and breakneck blackened leads, changing tempo and rhythm incessantly in a paranoid scurry like so many rats darting from sewer to sewer in the impenetrable Jersey smog.
Save for the Rings of Saturn-esque “Traces of Supremacy,” Psalms delivers consistent quality across its runtime, pulling out catchy melodies in between cleverly placed and unpredictable, if somewhat over-utilized, breakdowns. But since Lorna Shore‘s songwriting is so atypical, the legions of sudden tempo drops don’t function in the typical deathcore manner. Rather than focusing on the breakdowns as the centerpiece of each song, the band uses them to explore an extremely varied palette of pulse; many of the “breakdowns” aren’t written with a regular pulse and veer towards the abstract rather than the brutal or heavy. The album closer “Eternally Oblivion” lopes across a huge space of tempo and syncopation, lashing out at unpredictable intervals and making contact with almost every jab.
Although Psalms has its flaws, it’s one hell of a disc and actually slightly better than I expected it to be; Lorna Shore have proven they can pull off an entire album without resorting to filler, and produced some truly brutal music to boot. I might not come back to Psalms as often as I return to the Bone Kingdom EP, but it’s one of 2015’s best releases thus far. Listen to some core.