No one rocks the duality of “symphonic” and “deathcore” quite like Lorna Shore. Since firing ex-vocalist CJ McCreery for gross sexual misconduct and abuse, they’ve been fronted by Will Ramos from A Wake in Providence, with whom they’ve produced some of the most extreme and dramatic music since the band’s conception. Ramos’ “rat noises for Lorna Shore” (his words, not mine) have even gained some surprisingly mainstream popularity, with the Detroit Red Wings recently skating out to the now-relatively-infamous song “To the Hellfire,” off the band’s 2021 EP “…As I return to Nothingness.”
Lorna Shore has clearly put a lot of effort into the execution of every aesthetic detail of this album, from the theatrical elements of the music videos to the album art and merch design, much like the famously theatrical groove metal band In This Moment. In an interview with Loud TV, Ramos described “Pain Remains” as “grey” (like the cover art), which is an aesthetic that I can definitely hear exuding throughout the album. It’s not a soft, elven grey, though – more like the harsh slate grey which assaults your eyes in the middle of a thunder-and-lightning hailstorm as you fly in search of the sun. “Sun//Eater,” another pre-release, rages with a particularly poetic wrath, alluding to the Greek myth of Icarus (where a boy and his father escape from an island by flying with wax-made wings – only for Icarus, the son, to fall to his death as his wings melt from flying too close to the sun). Interestingly, the same song also plays with Christian themes, opening with a setting of the “Agnus Dei” (Lamb of God), a prayer from the Catholic Mass.
“Pain Remains” is best described as a blackened symphonic poem, with (relatively) minimal textual repetition and a great deal of thick coherency. One song flows into the next, carrying the listener through a journey of myth and shadow on the wings of religious imagery. The last three tracks, in particular, form a trilogy – or Trinity, if you prefer – which tells a tale of love, loss, and ultimate grief. The first two were pre-released with music videos, and the second is age restricted due to imagery of self-injury and suicide – so be prepared for that. The band has actually chosen to host this second video independently as well, so that their underage viewers can watch it: On Facebook, they explained this decision, stating that “While Lorna Shore supports all mental health outreach programs and suicide prevention programs, we also think is is important for us all to speak about these topics openly and honestly.” One interesting – and plausible, in my opinion – fan theory about the trilogy is that it is a prequel to the 2021 EP “…As I return to Nothingness.” While “Pain Remains” flashes back on the main character’s life, ending in grief and death, the set of three songs on “…As I return to Nothingness” starts with death and ends with rebirth (credit to Berni_907 on r/LornaShore).
My one complaint is about the shocking cliffhanger ending of “Pain Remains I: Dancing Like Flames,” you can’t really listen to it on its own without the second one, which makes me wish the two tracks were combined. But overall “Pain Remains I-III” dual-wields symphonic and deathcore textures so formidably that I can’t help but think of a similar three-track symphonic deathcore saga by Shadow of Intent – “Elegy I-III”, which, like “Pain Remains I-III” shares the album title. It has been years since I’ve encountered music whose disparate beauty has the power to move me to tears, but the concluding Pain Remains trifecta, “Pain Remains I-III”, marks the first work since Whitechapel’s “When a Demon Defiles a Witch” to do so.
None of the tracks are fully instrumental, which I found a little surprising, though not unwelcome. The first and last tracks (“Welcome Back, O’ Sleeping Dreamer” and “Pain Remains III: In a Sea of Fire”, respectively) are the best in my opinion, tying together a lot of the overarching thematic elements of “Pain Remains” and really sealing the deal on my overall rating of the album.
This album is a masterpiece. The sheer opposite of background music, I almost hesitate to add it to my everyday playlist just due to the sheer depth of emotional nuance required to properly experience it. “Pain Remains” will be released on October 15th, and it sounds like – and I mean this in the best way possible – a rat horde I hope never to meet.
Release Date: 15th October 2022
Label: Century Media Records
1. Welcome Back, o’ Sleeping Dreamer (7:21)
2. Into the Earth (5:12)
3. Sun // Eater (6:10)
4. Cursed to Die (4:40)
5. Soulless Existence (7:12)
6. Apotheosis (4:54)
7. Wrath (4:57)
8. Pain Remains I: Dancing Like Flames (5:52)
9. Pain Remains II: After All I’ve Done, I’ll Disappear (5:36)
10. Pain Remains III: In a Sea of Fire (9:11)