Swimming among an overcrowded sea of retro-thrashers, tech-death wankers, and sweepy-haired shoegazers playing post-whatever-the-fuck-the-flavor-is-this-week, there’s a band from Italy that’s looking to Finland and Seattle for the inspiration behind their début, Quiescence. Shores of Null may be a brand-spankin’-new band, but they are looking to capture your attention in pretty interesting ways. And they succeed to a degree.
After a short introduction, “Kings of Null” kicks off sounding like a modernized take on Tales from the Thousand Lakes-era Amorphis. You’ve got energetic drumming, a few simple-yet-catchy melodies on guitar, and the feeling of majesty and urgency bleeding out almost immediately. And then the vocals kick in. Davide Straccione has some fucking pipes, man! He sounds like an interesting mix of Amorphis‘s Tomi Joutsen and Alice in Chains‘s Jerry Cantrell. His voice brings this song from “catchy and addictive” to “STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND LISTEN TO THIS RIGHT NOW” territory, and could easily be at the top of my year-end list of Best Songs of 2014.
In fact, Straccione’s golden vocal cords are easily the highlight of this album. Whether it’s bringing out his Amorphisms (like on “Souls of the Abyss”), resurrecting Layne Staley (the Katatonia-esque “Ruins Alive” and the chorus of “The Heap of Meaning,”) or channeling Paradise Lost‘s Nick Holmes (“Quiescent“), his singing captivates and enthralls. Sure, he’s also an adept growler (most of “The Heap of Meaning” is death growls), but his singing is top-notch throughout the entire album. The man is easily one of the best new vocalists to look out for in all of metal. Praise also must be given to drummer Emiliano Cantiano, as his drumming is tasteful and very driving (especially during the intro to “The Heap of Meaning” and “Ruins Alive,”) bringing out dynamics when needed.
But this album isn’t without flaws, and some are pretty major. The production is pretty brick-walled and fatiguing, wearing on the listener over a period of time. Also, being a new band, some of the musical choices made during the course of Quiescence are a bit baffling. “Kings of Null” takes an interesting turn near the end, but it’s right off a damn cliff. Nothing frustrates me more than when a band decides to take an interesting route before abruptly ending the song, which happens a lot during the course of this album. Other times, there will be forgettable parts interspersed with the memorable (including practically all of “Night Will Come”). It’s a shame, as this band is already showing some damn strong chops this early into the band’s hopefully very long career.
Here we have a band with some good ideas, a little bit of work to do in terms of writing, and a vocal powerhouse of a frontman. Not a bad début, Quiescence is. If you are like me, you’ll keep an ear out for more music by Shores of Null, and you’ll be listening to “Kings of Null” for the millionth time today, like I have already.