Lorna Shore are undoubtedly a phenomenon in the extreme music scene. Even someone who enjoys just a smidge of heaviness and screaming in their songs has probably been made aware of the band’s trancencant rise to viral and critical acclaim over the past year. Be it through TikTok and YouTube algorithms, the press they’ve been receiving from music publications across the globe, or good ol’ fashioned word-of-mouth from music lovers, Lorna Shore are grabbing the attention of the masses and basking in the spotlight they’ve been given.
This is no instant success story of a band mechanically produced by the industry, either. Lorna Shore have been hard at work since 2009, honing their blend of brutal, breakdown-heavy deathcore and symphonic storytelling. Through three albums and EPs the New Jersey group built a dedicated fanbase for themselves despite a tumultuous life behind the scenes. Plagued by constant lineup changes, most notably losing original vocalist Tom Barber and then firing his replacement CJ McCreery, the band’s woes seemed to finally come to a head when promotion for their 2020 album Immortal was forced to halt though it’d barely begun due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the silver lining to end them all, that sudden pause in the live music world seemed to be exactly what Lorna Shore had been needing. With a new permanent vocalist by the name of Will Ramos added to the group, they reintroduced themselves to the world in an earth-shattering way last year with “To the Hellfire”. The song is a tremendous display of everything the band has to show - diverse technicality in the speedy riffs, blast beats and breakdowns, grandiose orchestral arrangements over top, and their new not-so-secret weapon: Ramos’ unbelievable array of screams, growls, howls, squeals, shrieks and whatever other demonic noises you can imagine. “To the Hellfire” has become their breakout hit for a reason, blasting the band into the stratosphere of viral clicks and online attention. With the release of their fourth EP …And I Return to Nothingness and now their fourth full-length Pain Remains, Lorna Shore have solidified themselves as the new face of deathcore and the gateway band into extreme metal for an entire generation.
But digital fame doesn’t always translate to the real world. Many artists have found success in the online realm only to struggle to make much of an impact outside of it. As I arrived at the Neighborhood Theatre in Charlotte, North Carolina to catch the fifth stop on the Pain Remains Tour, I could clearly see that this was not the case for Lorna Shore. After a long struggle to find parking, I was greeted with an even longer line to get inside the doors. In fact, the assemblage of metalheads went far past the venue itself, with many people lined up right outside the front doors of the nearby apartments as the line wrapped around the complex. One man driving down the road stopped to ask what exactly was going on, probably also wondering why almost everyone there was dressed in black. Another man came outside his apartment to remark on how this had to have been the longest line he’d seen there in three years.
This was a sold out show of an almost entirely sold out tour. A stunning 25 out of 26 shows across the US had completely run out of tickets; an obvious testament to just how in demand this band is right now. The only holdout was Houston, Texas; probably due to it falling on Halloween night. Then again, is a Lorna Shore concert not a perfect way to celebrate that holiday? It was definitely the best way to spend a Tuesday night in Charlotte, at least for these thousand-strong diehards waiting patiently in line. I’ve been to plenty of shows where a good amount of people have shown up nice and early, but here, it seemed that the place was already full before the first band out of five even went on. Once inside, there was the opportunity to jump into yet another large line for Lorna Shore merchandise.
The Pain Remains Tour offers hours of fantastically heavy music from a historical lineup of metal acts. Kicking things off that night was Ov Sulfur, a new metalcore act with splashes of blackened death metal thrown in. The pit got moving and heads started nodding right off the bat as the band tore through the early set. The camaraderie in the building was already strong, with moshers helping each other up with smiles on their faces despite the grimness of the music. Fans are aware that that’s usually how it goes at these things, but it’s always nice to be reminded that the friendliest of people can often be found at the most brutal of concerts. Making sure everyone had each other’s back in the pit proved to be a necessity by the time Ov Sulfur ended their set with “Stained in Rot”, their most intense song to date that got the room spinning.
Next up was Angelmaker, whose frenetic, dual-vocal onslaught of Canadian deathcore laid waste to the venue. At this point, the large floor in front of the stage was getting crowded, so a second large group had begun to gather one level above by the bar and the merch tables. It was a wonderful sight to see the crowd in motion from up there, not to mention one of the best views of the stage. Of course, this area also quickly filled in as more and more people arrived. Angelmaker was relentless, scorching the front rows with a fast-paced assault of songs from almost their entire discography. The Canadian heavy hitters made it look effortless.
With the Neighborhood Theatre at about full capacity, it was time for a deadly pair of overseas acts to storm the stage. From the UK we had Ingested, whose charismatic frontman Jason Evans immediately put the audience to work. He demanded that a wall of death be unleashed in the center and a pit opened up on the top level, which the crowd readily obliged him with as the band tore the place asunder. Evans was all smiles and continuously showered praise onto the enthused crowd, a bit of a contrast to the more aggressive approach that Aborted took as they came on next. Led by the equally charismatic but far more intimidating Sven de Caluwé, the Belgian death metallers delivered big on their unique kind of slam and grindcore influenced savagery. By the time both bands were done, it was if a wrecking ball had come through the building.
A four-pronged attack like the one The Pain Remains Tour had just hurled at Charlotte is a tough one for anyone to survive. Still, there was one more band to contend with before the sea of metalheads could return to their home or hotel to lick their wounds. Lorna Shore finally arrived in appropriately dramatic fashion, exploding onto the stage with the opening track of Pain Remains, “Welcome Back, O’ Sleeping Dreamer” before going straight into the next three tracks on the album, “Into the Earth”, “Sun//Eater”, and my personal favorite “Cursed to Die”. The music of Lorna Shore is massive, so having their live sound and production match that scale is no easy feat. The touring team was clearly up for the challenge, turning the modestly sized theatre into what felt like a grand gothic cathedral with a flurry of lights, smoke and blistering, groundshaking deathcore.
Seeing a mass of people shouting the words right back at Ramos reminds you that it’s not merely the powerful sounds of his voice that brings in listeners but his lyrics as well. There’s a poignant sense of sadness within his dark poeticism. It’s music for tortured souls that actually feels genuine rather than pandering. It's all the more impressive that the album had come out not even a week before! And it almost goes without saying that the technical prowess behind lead guitarist Adam De Micco and drummer Austin Archey is magnificent to behold - the speed and precision from the two senior members of the band was unmatched that night. Rhythm guitarist Andrew O’Connor and bassist Michael Yager helped keep things tight and brought an extra wallop to the set’s many breakdowns, each one hitting with the force of a bomb.
It was a life-changing concert for many. A large chunk of the younger crowd claimed it to not just be their first extreme metal show, but their first show ever. There were numerous giddy laughs and ecstatic yells to be heard throughout the night as well as a lot of “I love you!!”s shrieked at the band. New lifelong friendships were undoubtedly formed that night. Look, I get it. Everyone’s opinion on what’s truly heavy and what’s not is different. But for anyone who bears witness to this colossal tour, there can be denying that this is one of the heaviest nights of music you can ever partake in. Two days after this show, the Houston date finally sold out. 26 sold out shows in a row. Evidently, the people like it heavy.
Lorna Shore are currently on The Pain Remains Tour across the United States. It is completely sold out.