On a bitterly cold December day, a sold-out crowd congregates in Manchester for what could be the biggest metal show of the year, Lorna Shore. Pain Remains became an instant classic when it first released (check out our review) and shows around the world sold out instantly; allowing fans to hear it played live. Distant, Ingested and Rivers of Nihil joined Lorna Shore for one of the biggest extreme metal tours in recent memory.
Distant went first and expectations typically aren’t very high for the very first band on a massive bill but they were absolutely exceeded. Distant are the new best kept secret in deathcore, their latest album Heritage is one of the best deathcore releases of the year and it seems like they won over many new fans given the abundance of stank faces as vocalist Alan Grjna instructed the crowd to go bananas.
The breakdown on ‘Heirs of Torment‘ was enough to shatter skulls. The bass was so deep and crushing and the guitar work so simplistic yet devastatingly effective, that you’d be forgiven for thinking there were dinosaurs in the area.
Deathcore has an unfair reputation of being overly simplistic but Distant implemented some really interesting dissonant guitar work during ‘Exofilth,’ a standout track from their latest album. Distant are the perfect reason why you should show up early for all the support bands. In the space of just 30 minutes, they established themselves as a punishing titan in the making just waiting for the world to discover them.
Ingested were next and while vocalist Jason Evans is friendly, insightful, and down to earth (as you can see in our interview), a switch flips once he gets on stage and he becomes this utterly terrifying monstrous figure with the ability to make nightmarish sounds replicated only by creatures that reside in the depths of hell.
For the uninformed, Ingested are one of the biggest extreme bands to come out of Manchester and hometown shows are always a sight to behold, there’s a reason we call it Slamchester. It’s almost heartwarming to see how much of a communal experience an Ingested show is as people come together and bond in a literal death metal conga line over songs called ‘Skinned’ and ‘Fucked’.
Sappiness aside, it’s still a violent death metal show complete with some of the most revolting lyricism and aggressive musicianship you can possibly find. Tracks like ‘Invidious’ are chock full of massive caveman slam breakdowns and chugs and while some may call those segments simplistic, the most direct and effective approach is always a punch in the face.
“It’s an honour and a pleasure to play this show in our home town” says Evans as he leaves the stage having played one of the best sets of the night. They even paid tribute to Oasis and got the whole crowd singing ‘Wonderwall’. If you are ever given the opportunity to see Ingested in Manchester; absolutely do it, you will not be disappointed.
Rivers of Nihil came on the Robocop theme, the only objectively perfect piece of music ever created and a cheat code for getting a crowd hyped. With that said, Rivers of Nihil are a strange inclusion on this bill.
There are many bands that put out incredible music but suffer from being on the wrong bill or even just being introduced at the wrong time. Rivers of Nihil are a highly skilled band and ‘Where Owls Call My Name’ is a modern technical death metal masterpiece but the abrupt change in tone from caveman death metal may have been too much tonal whiplash for some to handle.
There were still highly aggressive and brutal displays on tracks like ‘Death is Real’ and ‘Hell Birds’ but Rivers of Nihil really shine on their more ambient tracks like ‘The Silent Life’. Their music feels lonely and sprawling which gives it this massive sense of emptiness, ‘Where Owls Call My Name’ is amazing background music while playing ‘Shadow of the Colossus’.
The technical proficiency on display is absurd, bassist/vocalist Adam Biggs is phenomenal as he plays some of the most demanding bass locks, tapping segments and gigantic runs in a 6 string bass while singing and it becomes even more impressive when you know that he’s only been the lead vocalist for around a year.
Rivers of Nihil may take some work to get into and may be best experienced first on the record but the work you put into listening to them pays off in a big way.
You can also purchase a tour bus TV they broke that’s signed by everyone on the bill or at least you could in Manchester. Maybe some lucky individual went home with it that night…
After hours of some of the most brutal music available, Lorna Shore made their way on stage and the crowd was frothing at the mouth. They opened with the soft orchestral intro of ‘Welcome Back, O Sleeping Dreamer’ which led into the full assault from Austin Archey’s pounding double bass work and Will Ramos’ inhuman vocal work. The longer tracks have a grand sense of scale and the orchestral elements do so much work to make it feel so much more epic, everything feels like a Herculean odyssey in the best way possible.
The set was made up almost entirely of Pain Remains tracks but they also played the entirety of ‘…And I Return to Nothingness,’ a modern deathcore masterpiece. The fact that it helped introduce the world to Will Ramos will make it a landmark release in its own right and the fact that he can replicate all of it live is an awe-inspiring sight to behold. It’s worth getting a ticket purely for ‘Into the Hellfire’ and seeing some of the most monstrous and inhuman sounds come from such a joyful and unassuming person.
The highest highs of Pain Remains come from the title track, a 20-minute suite that not only builds in intensity but runs the gamut of human emotion in a manner that the likes of Dream Theater have struggled to capture decades into their careers. The soulful opening guitar solo from Adam De Micco is absolutely stunning and the twisting technical precision that comes from the riffing shows off an incredible talent and flawless technique that should be studied by hopeful guitarists.
The anthemic segments at the end of ‘Pain Remains I: Dancing Like Flames’ transition beautifully into the more aggressive intros on ‘Pain Remains II: After All I’ve Done, I’ll Disappear’. It’s difficult to make a deathcore breakdown feel natural given that a natural intention of a breakdown is to get a crowd moving but the breakdowns on ‘After All I’ve Done’ feel organic and even add to the triumphant mood without distracting from the intention of the track.
The band’s best guitar work features throughout this entire suite with John Petrucci style speed picking and tremolo bar slurring (two very difficult techniques) featured throughout as well as gorgeous two-part harmonies all while replicating the album perfectly. It’s honestly a miracle that any of this is even listenable live considering how much is going on.
The final track was ‘Pain Remains III: In a Sea of Fire,’ a blast beat-laden track dedicated to oppressive brutality and aggression. The entire Pain Remains suite is a rare sight in the deathcore scene, there are very few bands that can switch between hostility and beauty so effortlessly. See Lorna Shore on this tour if possible because there’s no way of knowing how long they can keep a 20-minute suite in their setlist, it truly is a special sight to behold.
It’s strange to consider a symphonic deathcore band a household name but if there was ever a band that could reach those once thought unreachable heights: it’s Lorna Shore. Their most recent headline show in Manchester showcases a band at the height of their powers and even though they have achieved so much in just a small window of time, Lorna Shore are arguably the biggest extreme metal band on the planet right now and it’s easy to see why.
Extreme metal has never been a genre that has promised massive growth until recently. With the younger generation propelling bands that at one point would have been stuck playing basements into arena headliners, it’s clear that Lorna Shore are about to become one of the most significant bands in the entire landscape of extreme metal… perhaps even metal in general?