In the bowels of 2021, Lorna Shore’s comically brutal To The Hellfire set TikTok aflame, earning the US deathcore band millions of streams and sold-out shows.
“It definitely opened people’s eyes to everything else we have going on,” says vocalist Will Ramos, who joined the band in 2021 on the …And I Return To Nothingness EP, from which …Hellfire came. “For every normie who doesn’t wanna listen to the snortin’, we now have all the metal guys. It’s more attention than we’ve ever had.”
Formed 12 years ago, the New Jersey band have veered in an increasingly symphonic, maximalist-by-way-of-Dimmu-Borgir direction under the hand of chief songwriter and guitarist, Adam De Micco. Like Napalm Death, no founding members remain – Adam’s been there pretty much from the start, though – and the line-up’s changed more often than Tobias Forge’s wardrobe during a Ghost show.
However, Lorna Shore’s creative juices really started flowing once their initial recruits left. In 2014, the band struck gold when their song Life Of Fear, from the Bone Kingdom EP, went viral in an unlikely YouTube video: Heavy Metal Cats.
“Everyone was going, ‘I love Bone Kingdom!’ and I was like, ‘You’re all liars, ’cause when it was out, we played [Life Of Fear] and nobody liked it,” says Adam. “You literally didn’t hear that until Heavy Metal Cats. That definitely brought people to the band!”
Lorna Shore haven’t had it easy, though. Following their second album, Flesh Coffin, longtime vocalist Tom Barber abandoned ship to front deathcore heavyweights Chelsea Grin. “That just hurt,” Adam admits.
The shit sandwich spread its chunky loaves further. Replacing Tom as frontman in 2018 was CJ McCreery, who recorded the Immortal album, but was fired the following year. Almost immediately after the announcement, allegations of sexual misconduct and mental abuse were levelled against CJ – all of which he denies. Adam insists the frontman’s dismissal had nothing to do with his actions outside the band, though.
“A lot of that stuff came about after [CJ’s exit] was announced,” says Adam – a claim that has been backed up by the vocalist’s accusers. “It was going to happen anyway. We weren’t getting along. He said he was looking to quit in 2020.”
Down a vocalist just before Immortal’s release, Lorna Shore scrambled to find a fill-in. Enter Will Ramos, formerly of A Wake In Providence and Monument Of A Memory. Their chemistry was electric, leading to a full-time role for Will and a trip to the studio to record the …And I Return To Nothingness EP.
“‘Yeah, right, I’m gonna be in the band for a week…’” Will remembers thinking. “I just leave it to my man Adam over here, I do a little ‘bwee bwee bweeeee’ on top of it, and people seem to love it.”
“We did the EP to figure out if this would work,” Adam adds. “We gave Will some songs that could be his own. At the time, the suggestion was for him to re-record some songs, which would have just set him up to fail. All people would do is compare notes, and that’s not productive.”
To The Hellfire established Lorna Shore as deathcore’s hot ticket. Eager to capitalise on their popularity boost, they started tracking a full-length with Will. But as this wasn’t their first rodeo, Adam was cautious about the notion of galloping into the sunset.
“Part of me kept thinking, ‘What if the best is behind us?’” he says. “When we did the record, we didn’t have anything [properly written]. I had no idea. [The TikTok exposure] may get people in the door, but it doesn’t keep them there.”
Thankfully, album number four slapped. Pain Remains was a sprawling, hour-plus odyssey featuring the most startling abuse of melody since Anaal Nathrakh’s Endarkenment. Obscenely intense, epic, catchy and worth every inch of hype, this went further than bands such as Shadow Of Intent and Brand Of Sacrifice. Think more Fleshgod Apocalypse arm-wrestling Cattle Decapitation.
“Everyone just wants to punch each other in the head all the time, which is cool,” says Will about the lead single, Sun//Eater. “But I want to put a little melody in. People listen to it and they’re like, ‘I wanna cry.’ I wanna make people cry and punch each other in the head.”
A 20-minute, three-song conceptual suite closed the record and didn’t feel like a stretch. It’s bombastic, savage music that thrived just as well supporting Parkway Drive in arenas as headlining clubs over Aborted. Lorna Shore had arrived, but not without incident. The gruelling cycle took its toll, drummer Austin Archey sitting out recent dates to deal with a herniated disc.
“He’s found it hard to take the time to take care of his stuff,” Adam explains. “The workload has been a lot. Just trying to have a life has been hard. It’s a good challenge compared to the stagnation of 2020, but the work was just overwhelming.”
Planning to decompress for the first few months of 2023, Lorna Shore will then take their bucket of breakdowns, symphonics and grunty animal noises across the globe. Despite the band’s revolving door – only Adam and Austin have been around longer than 2019 – its longest-serving member believes this is the line-up.
“This is everything I’ve wanted the band to be,” says Adam. “Everyone prioritises this – that’s the one thing I felt was missing over the years, and why members came and went.”
“A lot of bands don’t hang out – they just do what they do,” Will finishes. “But everybody’s on the same page and everybody loves each other.”
Pain Remains is out now