Shores of Null – Quiescence (Album Review)

I haven’t tried to review anything in years, but this rather unknown doom band I came across recently compelled me to write one. Looking back at my Amazon reviews from 2005, I think I’ve improved quite a bit! I’ve included some videos and links at the bottom so you can preview their material or possibly support them by buying the album.

My overall score: 9 out of 10

Shores of Null is a band from Rome that combines a diverse set of influences and styles, including doom, death, and black metal. Sounds reminiscent of November’s Doom, Woods of Ypres, ICS Vortex’s solo debut “Stormbringer,” and American band Nevermore, in addition to classic black metal influences cleverly mixed in, can be heard throughout the ten track endeavor. The result is not something eclectic, but rather a coherent, unified sound that penetrates the album from start to finish despite great variety within and between tracks.

The sound of Shores of Null consists primarily of vertically large repeated chords in the guitar and bass that are shaped into melodic phrases and punctuated by memorable riffs. Throughout, dissonance is highly controlled, giving the listener a need for release that is never quite matriculated. Beneath the churning soundscape of the strings, creative drum work serves as its own point of interest while driving the tempo of the songs, which varies from black metal fast to sludgy slow. On top of these harsher elements sits the highly melodic voice, which is at times frantic and at times soothing, creating a tonal contrast that compels the listener to further explore the darkness the band presents in varying shades of grey. Growls used on several tracks heighten this contrast between harsh and beautiful.

The production on the album is fairly maximized and typical of a modern sound, however in the case of Shores of Null the production serves the music and doesn’t detract from it. All the instruments are clearly audible, including the bass which is often buried in metal recordings, and the tone employed on the rhythm guitars, bass, and vocals was excellent. The drums sound slightly compressed, but this is typical of metal and doesn’t distract too much. The voice is clear and sits at the right level in the mix, and nothing sounds over-processed.

As a criticism, while there is a great amount of tempo, texture, and tonal variety within and between the pieces on the album, the experience was overall lacking in dynamic variation, sounding consistently “loud.” Also somewhat distracting was the sound of the lead or melodic guitars, which sounded dead and shapeless. This is partly a performance issue, as the parts were played with little vibrato and failed to sustain or “sing.” It stands out mostly because of the great phrasing and tone employed by the vocals near or concurrent to the sections of single note lead guitar. The shortcomings of the album should not be viewed as negatives by themselves, but rather represent lost opportunities to make an already great album perfect.

If you are a fan of any of the bands mentioned, or enjoy doom metal in general, Shores of Null will likely please and earn a place in the rotation among the classics.

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