Lorna Shore – Immortal Review

Lorna Shore - Immortal 01I’ve been a booster for Lorna Shore ever since I heard the Bone Kingdom EP. The basic pitch of the band’s early work was deathcore, for cats but good. Good riffs and effective breakdowns formed the backbone of songs that Adam DeMicco’s considerable solo and lead work elevated above almost anything else in the scene. The band has since re-invented themselves with each release, delving into grimy blackened deathcore with Psalms and taking a slick, blackened/melodic course with Flesh Coffin. AMG’s coverage of the band has been scanty due to their rapid bounce through several record labels. Now playing in the big leagues with Century Media, both I and the band have been looking forward to their third LP, Immortal.

Until some shit happened. Lorna Shore’s new vocalist for Immortal, CJ McCreery (the beard tattoo guy), was hastily fired in December following accusations of manipulation, abuse, and other execrable behavior by several women. The band has moved to put as much space as possible between McCreery and themselves and this album, and for a time appeared ready to delay the release to re-record with someone else. But now Immortal is here on schedule.12

With this album, Lorna Shore moves further into maximalism, adding layers of orchestration and atmosphere to the Flesh Coffin sound. If you, like I, thought “Funeral Moon” was the highlight from that album, you’re in for a treat. The opening title track trumpets its commitment to that combination of brutality and powerful melody, delivering one of the most compelling songs yet this year. Further bombast accompanies the Gothenburg melodeath/SoCal deathcore mashup of songs like “Warpath of Disease.” DeMicco’s leads are both simplistic and bombastic, a power soaring above the songs’ crushing rhythm riffs. At times their lustrous, saturated tones recall Fallujah’s The Flesh Prevails or Kardashev’s Peripety, creating a sense of vast space despite the songs’ brutality. “Immortal” is perhaps the best example of this, the clean guitar tones miming the timbres of choral and string synths such that the guitar and orchestral parts are at times indistinguishable. The song’s chorus makes the most of this explosive combination.

Lorna Shore - Immortal 02

Immortal puts its best foot forward and strides confidently past the mid-album mark. From “Immortal” to “Warpath of Disease,” the band never falter, though they lose some momentum after “Obsession” and never really recover it. The album’s last three songs are darker than those in front, but their failure is not in their tone but in a lack of really exemplary material. “King ov Deception” drops an eponymous line effectively but doesn’t introduce any new ideas to the album. “Darkest Spawn” focuses on heavily orchestrated slower-moving melodies that don’t quite have the luster of those from earlier in the album, and its breakdown feels particularly unnecessary embedded in an already sluggish track. What’s worse, it uses almost the exact same arpeggio pattern as closer “Relentless Torment” in its slower moments, making both songs feel redundant.

As an album, Immortal certainly has its challenges, but as an artistic experiment, it’s an unqualified success. Lorna Shore’s combination of symphonic orchestration with the atmospheric trappings a la Fallujah makes for some incredible songs and cements the band as one of deathcore’s foremost innovators. While the ugly circumstances surrounding its release may cast a shadow over the record, I earnestly hope that anyone interested in bombastic, forward-thinking deathcore like that of Shadow of Intent and Kardashev spend a lot of time with Immortal.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Century Media Records
Website: facebook.com/lornashore
Releases Worldwide:
January 31st, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Even if my review is not.
  2. Kronos sidebar: I considered skipping this review because I personally have questions about why the dismissal happened when it did. Allegations (though oblique) surrounding McCreery long predate last December, though I don’t know if other members of the band or label knew of them. Keep in mind that Lorna Shore tour heavily and of course need a vocalist who can pull off Tom Barber’s parts to do so. There is definitely an incentive for them (and their label) to delay response to something like this too when it won’t financially hurt them. It’s possible that the band (or Century Media, who are of course invested in this album and presumably exert some control over the band’s actions and public statements) might have fucked up, had bad judgment, or waited until it was convenient to address this. But even if we can trace a possible logic to keeping McCreery, it’s bullshit to keep him in your band if you consider these accusations credible. I hope they did fire McCreery as soon as they knew about his behavior. This is a great moment to reflect on how our current economic structures might maybe possibly run contrary to any concept of morality, and about how you shouldn’t manipulate, abuse, and gaslight people or countenance that behavior.
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