Shores of Null – Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying) Review

Just a few weeks ago, I was wondering whatever happened to Italian doomsters Shores of Null, as it’s been a hot minute since I’ve heard a single note from these gents.1 Their 2014 debut Quiescence blew me away with their creative take on doom metal, especially the incredible vocals of Davide Straccione. Their 2017 follow-up, Black Drapes for Tomorrow, felt like a bit of a let-down in comparison. So imagine my surprise when resident promo-gifter Madam X put me in for their third album, Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying), out of the clear blue! Imagine my surprise again when I realized it’s comprised of one song. A song that’s almost 39 minutes. That’s a lot to ask for a final review of the year, and it better be damn good to pull off such a task.

And wouldn’t you know it, it is! Beyond the Shores is a concept album inspired by the five stages of grief originally formulated by Swiss-American psychiatrist, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. As such, Beyond the Shores weaves a rich tapestry that guides the listener through a rollercoaster ride of pain, loss, anger, and finally, acceptance. And when I say “rollercoaster,” it’s a mostly slow-moving one, as besides a mid-tempo gallop near the final moments of the album’s first third, things sit somewhere between doom and its funeral cousin. So if you’re the type that can’t stomach listening to something that’s constantly moving at a slow pace, you’re already skipping this review to find something more your speed.

For everyone else, though, you’re in for a treat. Moments throughout Beyond the Shores call out sounds from classic bands, whether it’s the somber violins that follow the rainfall opening the song that harkens back to prime My Dying Bride, or the slight atonality of the guitars in the mid-point that recall Paradise Lost, Beyond the Shores keeps things varied enough to keep the listener engaged. And once again, Straccione impresses with his vocal ability, whether it’s in his deep growls, or his impeccable singing voice. Joining him this time is Mikko Kotamäki (Swallow the Sun) and Thomas Akim Grøbæk Jensen (Saturnus), both contributing to the deeper, more guttural growls found on the more somber moments. But it’s Inno’s Elisabetta Marchetti who nearly steals the show, her siren wails and vibrato acting as a stark contrast to Straccione’s mid-range delivery.

There isn’t a lot I can say that’s overwhelmingly negative about Beyond the Shores, but there are a couple of things that could have improved the song/album. The length is an obvious one, and as I’ve already stated above, this could be a massive make-or-break for some people. For me, it kept my interest throughout, but there were moments here-and-there that could have been shortened considerably, especially the rain closing out the album, as it felt like it went on for a bit too long. A bigger problem lies in the production, as the mix could have used some breathing room to allow the drums and bass a bit more air.

With all that said, Shores of Null gambled heavily on this album, and in my eyes, it most certainly paid off handsomely. To make a one-song album that’s stretching near the 40-minute mark requires a hefty amount of guts to pull off, but in doing so, they’ve made something that takes the potential found on Quiescence, and adds a heaping amount of maturity and songwriting growth to the formula. The result is a fantastic album that sees Shores of Null standing tall among their doom and funeral doom contemporaries,2 as well as a guaranteed spot on my year-end list. What a way to close out an otherwise horrible year!

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Spikerot Records
Websites: |
Release Dates: EU: 2020.11.27 | NA: 12.11.2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Well, except for spinning Quiescence repeatedly.
  2. Speaking of, if they somehow end up going the funeral doom route, I’m all in on that shit big time.
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