Pain Remains

As someone who grew up during the rise of deathcore, it is a bit strange that I missed the train considering all of the “traditional” metalcore I was listening to. Before I knew it, deathcore had seemingly come and went as the new metal fad on the block. Besides passing exposure to bands like Emmure and Job for a Cowboy, I had no knowledge of the genre, and really didn’t care to. It seems now, about a decade later, the genre is reaching a renaissance in popularity with Lorna Shore at the forefront. If I’m being honest, despite their discography spanning twelve years now, I had not even heard of the band until their hit single “To the Hellfire”, which immediately grabbed my attention. Their latest vocalist, Will Ramos, has taken the metal world by storm with his undeniable talent, and I was no exception. After listening to …And I Return to Nothing I was very interested to see where they would go next.

With their latest release, Pain Remains, the band doesn’t show any signs of straying from their blackened and symphonic take on deathcore. This isn’t a bad thing, as it does help them stand out amongst their peers. In fact, this latest release takes their established formula to its limits within the constraints of the genre.  Pain Remains is densely produced, intense, and even emotional (as much as deathcore can be). Even before Ramos took the helm, they have been working to polish their symphonic tendencies. At this point their songwriting aesthetic is a well-oiled machine. The melodic guitar leads paired with the synth and choir-laden overlays are a beautiful complement to the genre-defining growls and breakdowns. Pain Remains is filled to the brim with dramatic, gothic arrangements that help bring together the unrelenting blast beats and ear-gripping howls into a catchy package. Lorna Shore have determined their identity as a band and dialed it in with precision. However, this may become both a blessing and a curse.

While their acclaimed “Pain Remains” trilogy at the backend of the album is sonically impressive and emotionally resonant, it does show some cracks in the armor. The reliance on Ramos’s talents at low and high screams becomes more and more apparent by the time the last few tracks are reached. This is a trapping that seems to plague deathcore as a whole. When everything is loud and intense, nothing is. We get more insight into this with tracks like “Pain Remains I”, as we actually get to hear a mix of whispers and mid screams which add more impact to the emotional lyrics and symphonics than any breakdown in the album could achieve. This dynamic, unfortunately, won’t be repeated throughout the last two tracks. While the trilogy itself still sounds gorgeous with the instrumental swells, choirs, and symphonics, I feel like they could have only been more impactful if Lorna Shore were willing to implement “cleaner” vocals at pivotal moments to really drive home the dramatic songwriting they were striving for.

At this point, it feels as though they have taken their sound as far as it can go. While Ramos is arguably the most talented growler in the genre, it seems as though they may be using it as a crutch. With the dynamism that they appear to be aiming for, they could end up holding themselves back by not breaking out of the deathcore formula entirely. This isn’t exactly a condemnation, because truth be told, I love this album. However, Lorna Shore has more than enough talent across all of its members to make a modern classic. This is something that I truly believe. All that is missing is the courage to step outside the reliable, but often repetitive deathcore structure. Pain Remains, despite my criticisms, is an impressive and exceptional album, but clearly displays that they are capable of much more than what they’re showing us.

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