One of my favorite things about writing for Angry Metal Guy Unlimited, LLC is when I’m blindsided by a new band. Quiescence, the 2014 debut album by Italian doomsters Shores of Null, impressed the hell out of me with their wonderful combination of Daylight Dies riding with Alice in Chains en route to an Amorphis gig, and landed themselves on my Top Ten(ish) list of that year. Between the hook-filled riffs and some absolutely stellar vocals by frontman Davide Straccione, Shores of Null proved they had the chops to drop something special on us. Here we are three years later, and they return with their eagerly-awaited follow-up, the dreary Black Drapes for Tomorrow.

Things start promisingly enough. “Tributary Waters,” like “0x0000” from Quiescence, sets the stage nicely as a quick-paced instrumental, with a somber melody played over the driving drumming of Emiliano Cantiano, before bleeding into “Donau.” The riff interplay between guitarists Raffaele Colace and Gabriele Giaccari provides a wonderful bed for Straccione to lay his vocals upon, and once again he delivers with aplomb. Again reminding me of both Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell’s (Alice in Chains) vocal harmonies mixed with Tomi Joutsen’s (Amorphis) inflections and growling, Straccione continues to impress with his performance in the chorus. While the song overall doesn’t hit with quite the force that “Kings of Null” from their debut did, it still serves as an enjoyable song on its own, and with eager anticipation I pressed forth, hoping that my heart would be won over like Quiescence did three years ago.

But there are a few snags. First, oddly enough, lies with Straccione’s performance, or rather his vocal cords themselves. Mind you, not once does he deliver a bad performance, but there are times where it sounds like his vocal cords are going to give out on him from straining so much, especially when he sings in a growled mid-range. Nowhere is this more apparent than during the chorus of “Tide Against Us” and the first verse of standout track “Carry On, My Tiny Hope,” where I couldn’t help but think he was going to damage his voice if he kept doing that. But the other problem lies in the songs themselves. Again, there are no bad songs, but none of them hit the level of greatness that Quiescence did. No sweeping majestic ballads like “Ruins Alive” or doomy ragers like “Kings of Null” or “The Heap of Meaning” can be found here. Black Drapes doesn’t sound bad so much as it sounds absolutely safe, almost a B-side album of Quiescence outtakes, and these guys are capable of so much more.

The Marco Mastrobuono (Fleshgod ApocalypseHour of Penance) production doesn’t exactly help, either. Other than the two lush acoustic instrumentals (“The Enemy Within” and closer “Death of a River”), Black Drapes sounds squashed, especially when it comes to Cantiano’s drums during fills and cymbal flourishes. Plainly put, the mix neuters them, which guts me because you can hear Cantiano playing his ass off. Mateo Capozucca’s bass is also conspicuously absent, making appearances here and there. Thankfully, it wasn’t as painful as the clipping that made its ugly appearance during parts of Quiescence.

I had incredibly high hopes for Black Drapes for TomorrowShores of Null definitely possess what it takes to become a force in doom metal. Sadly, while Black Drapes is a decent record, it could have been a great record, and that kills me. It feels frustratingly safe, and “safe” is never a good thing to be. I’m hoping the next one knocks it out of the park.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Labels: Candlelight Records | Spinefarm Records
Releases Worldwide: April 14th, 2017

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  • El_Cuervo

    Safe is a good thing to be for contraception

    • Grymm

      Well… Of course.

      Dann post-submission revelation that I needed to clarify that I meant that MUSICALLY, being safe isn’t what you wanna be.

    • sir_c

      and a good place for my money. So that is where it stays…

  • You wot m8?

    Oh look, more underwhelming material from Italy. Are there any good Italian metal bands besides Fleshgod Apocalypse? I’m actually curious…

    • Francesco Bordoni

      Ufomammut? Messa? Hour of Penance? Lorn? Elvenking? Obake?

      • Ryan Marr


    • Patrick Bertlein

      The Foreshadowing.

      • A Feed From Cloud Mountain

        Their Rains of Castamere cover was pretty epic.

    • Drew Music

      I more enjoy of deep Novembre, Ufommamut and Lahmia than Fleshgod metal sadness.

      • You wot m8?

        Ufommamut are pretty good…

        • Drew Music

          I’ll grant that Novembre has quite possibly the most nasal vocalist in the world, but the melodies are just so damn good.

    • SegaGenitals

      Ad Nauseam.

      • You wot m8?

        Wait, they’re from Italy? Very well, I guess I forgot one…

    • Levly

      In a style not very far from Shores of Null I highly recommend Novembre, it’s a wonderful band (although the clean vocals are a love-or-hate proposition).

    • naoto

      Void of Sleep.

      • Luke_22

        Great band. Also, by extension Arcana 13 are really good as well.

    • lennymccall

      I highly recommend Eyeconoclast from Rome.

    • Scuorn released a very nice debut called Parthenope in late February, if orchestral extreme metal is your thing.

    • Martin L

      It’s funny, because I feel the opposite. Italy and Greece are shining lights in the metal scene, while I feel stuck in North America, drowning in a sea of shitty nu-core metal bands.

      • You wot m8?

        Greece, yes; there’s some cool stuff there. It just seems that any Italian metal I come across [apart from some notable exceptio] will range from “meh” to downright “bleh”. Perhaps I’m missing some kind of huge way, way, waaayyy underground scene in the depths of some Italian volcano, but it’s just a bit odd how little there is. Particularly because the exceptions [such as the aforementioned Fleshgod Apocalypse and Ad Nauseam, among others] are so very good.

        As to the comment regarding North America, there is plenty of good New World metal out there, you just have to look harder for it since the NA “metal” marketplace is so flooded with trash. There are certainly more people per capita in Europe who enjoy metal, thus a greater supply.

    • sir_c

      I really dig Karnya and Kingcrow, if you like some prog metal.

    • pfk505

      Enisum, Movimento D’Avanguardia Ermetico, Blaze of Sorrow, Forgotten Tomb, Novembre, Melencolia Estatica, Svirnath, Frostmoon Eclipse.. there are lots!

  • hallowed

    I’ll reserve my judgment until I hear the whole thing. Really love their first album.

    • Grymm

      I loved their first album too, and I don’t blame you.

      I wish there was a preview available online that I could have attached to the review, but none exists (so far).

  • The Unicorn


  • Lavina of Rome

    well that fucking sux. should have never let a normie producer get their hands on their record.

  • Paul VH

    “I don’t often disagree with AMG, but when I do it’s usually a perspective thingy.”
    I’ve never heard SON’s first album so to me the rating is meaningless in comparison. I really like this album!
    Fans of Katatonia, Novembre, Yearning (remember them??) and there are hints of later day Woods of Ypres (which there is not enough of imo) , would do well to check these guys out!