"I want us to be the scariest ride at the amusement park": How Lorna Shore became deathcore's defining stars

Lorna Shore
(Image credit: Jake Owens)

The opening of the show is like something from a horror movie. The sinister choral intro of Welcome Back, O’ Sleeping Dreamer reaches a crescendo as blinding blue light floods the venue. Lorna Shore run onstage. “Berlinnnnn! Are you guys ready to fucking jump?” shouts frontman Will Ramos

Then, punctuated by a “blegh”, plumes of flame shoot up around him. We’re at the 3,500-capacity Columbiahalle in Berlin, Germany. Tonight’s show has been upgraded from the 2,000-capacity Astra venue – one of many upgrades on this headline tour. It’s the culmination of a year in which the New Jersey quintet have played Download’s Main Stage, supported Parkway Drive in Europe’s arenas, and opened for Gojira and Mastodon in amphitheatres across the US. 

All this, and they’re a deathcore band. Will Ramos still can’t believe their luck. “I was just sitting down earlier and I was like, ‘Holy shit, we’re a real band,’” he giggles, when we catch up with him before the show. He does so with the sort of energy you’d expect from a naughty schoolboy who has snuck into the headmaster’s office. “Whether it’s sound or lights or performance, it’s all coming together perfectly and seamlessly.” 

Their popularity is even more remarkable because no one saw it coming. After forming in 2009, releasing three albums and enduring endless line-up changes, some saw Lorna Shore as also-rans, or hadn’t heard of them at all. Now, with a charismatic singer at their helm and a cinematically ambitious fourth record in 2022’s Pain Remains, they’re a band reborn, and one of the most talked-about in the modern metal scene.

“We never expected to get traction the way we did,” says Will. “Now we’re out playing these massive shows. Yesterday, looking at the set-up we have, I thought to myself, ‘Dude, two years ago no one would have believed that we could play places like this.'" He puffs out his cheeks and grins.

Lorna Shore are one of metal’s longest ‘overnight success’ stories. After releasing debut EP Triumph in 2010, they followed up with a series of EPs and albums of varying quality, all the way to their third full-length, 2020’s Immortal. During that time they gained a small but dedicated fanbase, but suffered through multiple member changes, with only one man present throughout it all: guitarist and band architect Adam De Micco. 

Adam describes his first decade in Lorna Shore as “gruelling”, admitting there were multiple occasions where the band nearly split, dating all the way back to 2013, when he almost went back to school prior to the release of third EP Maleficium.

“Being the opening band of seven on some tour, you’re just kinda eating the shit a little bit,” he smiles. “That was the first 10 years of this band. You’re putting all this effort in, and you question yourself and think, ‘Why am I still doing this?’ I can look back now and see why it was worth it, but in that moment, it can really fuck with you. I had times where I didn’t feel as committed to it, but other people were. That kept my motivation going somewhat.”

Adam is your typical, friendly-but-quiet band type, but when he talks about the journey Lorna Shore have been on, you can tell he’s not one to compromise. “We never listened to anyone else,” he says, with a steely glint in his eye. “I’d have ideas and producers in the studio would be like, ‘You can’t write a long song, every song should be three minutes!’ And now it’s like, ‘OK, we wrote a three-part, 20-minute-long song [the closer of Pain Remains] and everyone loved it. I guess you don’t have all the answers.’” 

Adam describes the departure of vocalist Tom Barber in 2018 as the moment that “was going to be the last straw”, but he rallied and Lorna Shore continued. “That moment… deciding to carry on, it just made it easier when it came to dealing with hurdles,” he explains. 

And boy, did Lorna Shore encounter a hell of a hurdle in the aftermath of that decision. Tom’s replacement, CJ McCreery, lasted just over a year and a half, before he was abruptly removed from the band due to allegations of sexual abuse (which he has denied). We tell Adam and Will they don’t have to go into the situation if they don’t feel they can. “Definitely not,” Will instantly replies. It might be the only time he stops smiling during our entire time together.

Lorna Shore

(Image credit: Jake Owens)

After losing six bandmembers in 10 years, it would have been easy for Lorna Shore to fold. Instead, they recruited Will Ramos from fellow New Jersey band Monument Of A Memory, initially just to fill in for the rest of the European dates they had lined up for early 2020. “I had mixed feelings of excitement and anxiousness,” Will recalls. “Even when I was just trying out for that one tour, I was like, ‘I have to give 120% every single day.’” 

Will’s anxiety was heightened because he just so happened to be a huge fan of Lorna Shore after getting into them around Maleficium. He admits he didn’t always deal with it well. “Eight years of me loving this band so much, and then – holy crap, I got a chance to go on the road with them!” he screams. “Fill shoes that were, in my mind, so large to fill. The first show we did, I messed up one thing. I got off the stage and cried. I was like, ‘I am so bad, everyone knows that Will sucks now!’ It was the culmination of all of this stress.” 

When the pandemic stopped bands from touring, Lorna Shore had time to write new material. Then came one of their most important days: June 11, 2021. This was when they announced Will as their permanent vocalist, and released brand-new song To The Hellfire

Quite how it happened, no one seems to be able to fully articulate, but To The Hellfire went viral. TikToks and YouTube reactions popped up from nowhere, feverishly praising an unrelentingly brutal, six-minute-long deathcore song with chilling, gothic symphonic parts and a vocal breakdown that dropped the jaws of everyone – from hardened headbangers to mainstream pop fans who were discovering extreme metal for the first time. It was wild. 

“When people started doing #LornaShoreChallenge, it was like… how is this trending?” Will says, his eyes bulging. “We’re literally a deathcore band, our style of music will never and has never infiltrated these people… We’re trending with the normies?! OK, this is strange.” 

Strange or not, To The Hellfire currently has more than 45million streams on Spotify. Limp Bizkit’s big comeback single, Dad Vibes, released the same year, lags 18 million streams behind. It’s one of the biggest metal songs of the decade so far. That online hype translated to the real world. 

The band “suddenly got the offers of the biggest rooms”, and in London alone their March 2022 show was upgraded four times, to Camden’s 1,500-capacity Electric Ballroom. In June, the band went viral again when YouTube channel The Charismatic Voice teamed up with Will for a video in which a camera was pushed through his nose and down his throat, to record the movement of his vocal cords. 

It not only showed how impressive his techniques are, but how good-natured he is, and has been watched 4 million times. All the attention must have been a dream come true and some well-deserved gratification for Adam after years of toil… right? 

“I had a hard time accepting it,” the guitarist sighs. “For a while I refused to believe it was happening. It really fucked with my headspace. I felt like I should have been happier that it happened, like, ‘Why am I not grateful that this attention is all over us?’ But actually I felt like it made it harder for us to justify ourselves.” 

His feelings were understandable. Online trends tend to appear, dominate the discourse and then vanish with alarming regularity. “In the back of my mind, I know bands that just come up and then they disappear,” nods Will. “People move on very quickly. I was wondering if people were still going to be hyped about us. I loved the attention, but are they going to get to next week and be like, ‘OK, what’s happening now? I don’t care about Lorna Shore!’ But… nope.” 

The reason for that is almost certainly Pain Remains. Released a year after To The Hellfire, Lorna Shore’s fourth studio album – and first with Will fronting the band – is comfortably the best thing they’ve put their name to. An hour-long, 10-track masterpiece of modern deathcore, it fuses destructive, bowel-loosening riffs with genuinely stirring melodic, symphonic strings and Will’s masterful, savage vocals. 

In just one year, with all the chaos that had enveloped them for over a decade, Lorna Shore had finally transitioned from well-respected scene band to major players. “One of the things that fuelled Pain Remains is that we were writing the record, and we were all thinking, ‘When is this going to go away?’” says Adam. “‘What if we’re just a flicker in a moment in time?’ So that was the inspiration for writing the album, us thinking, ‘OK, let’s make sure we don’t go away.’” 

And they didn’t. The band played Parkway Drive’s European arena tour, and supported Gojira and Mastodon in US arenas and amphitheatres – a situation that Will is obviously still coming to terms with, as he loudly exclaims, “They keep putting us in these frickin’ rooms!” 

Deathcore, for all its popularity, has never produced an arena band, but Lorna Shore are spending a lot of time in venues of that ilk these days. “I remember saying to our producer [Josh Schroeder (King 810, Tallah)], ‘I want to write arena songs without changing our sound.’ And he told me, ‘No way.’” Adam chuckles to himself. “He looked at me like I was nuts, like, ‘There’s really no way! You’ll have to change."

When Lorna Shore hit the stage tonight, their growth is clear to see. The lights and production are that of a major band, they are inhumanly tight, sound fantastic and, most importantly, the sea of horns and banging heads donot stop throughout. They even inspire mass singalongs. Yes, a deathcore band… and singalongs. Something here feels special, and Lorna Shore look every inch the band who will finally, singlehandedly, raise the ceiling for what deathcore can achieve. 

“We never expected to be looking at these things as a possibility!” Will exclaims later. “We’re just going to think bigger, better. We have done these shows and looked at them, and it makes us go, ‘Could we, can we… do something like this ourselves?’ And we aren’t there yet, but we’re making the steps towards being there. Which for a heavy, technical deathcore band is very eye-opening.” 

“I always say, ‘I want us to be the scariest ride at the amusement park,’” Adam grins. “And I want you to be able to tell your friends, ‘I survived that ride.’” 

Strap yourself in – the ascent has begun.

Pain Remains is out now via Century Media

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.