Band: Shadow Of Intent
Genre: Technical Death Metal, Deathcore
Country: United States
Release Date: April 28th, 2017
Since metal enlightened all of our lives many decades ago there has been a constant struggle to make things more brutal. A perfect example of this theory is how in recent years there have been a number of bands take Deathcore (recognised already as a very extreme take on the original metal formula) and fusing it with Technical Death Metal to create an entirely different beast. We have seen bands such as Aversions Crown and Oceano who have been tearing up this new genre and force feeding it to the metal masses. The stereotypical characteristics for this new hybrid genre appear to be superhuman drummers pulverising their drum kits relentlessly with blast beats, guitar players who are quite often armed with seven string guitars (minimum) and vocalists who can hit pitches so low that they make your internal organs vibrate uncontrollably.
A band who fit in nicely with the aforementioned acts; Shadow Of Intent (who take their name from the space craft used by The Covenant in the video game series ‘Halo’) are beginning to make some serious waves in the Extreme Metal world. Formed in Rhode Island in the States in the year 2014. In a mere three years the band have put out one extended play ‘Inferi Sententia’ and one full length album ‘Primordial’, toured extensively and have now put the finishes touches to their second full length album entitled ‘Reclaimer’. Lyrically the band has taken features from the ‘Halo’ game series and has turned them into bloodthirsty, wonderfully graphic tales. The band have shown some clear intent in the promotional track that they have released leading up to the release of their sophomore album and it appears to be to make everything tighter, everything more technical and ultimately more devastating.
‘Reclaimer’ opens with a harrowing, synth-heavy introduction that conveys a sense of dread and trepidation. This intro sounds like something straight off of a Cradle Of Filth album with a more modern twist. The pace slowly builds with the steady double bass drum beat before a fantastic vocal line comes in to play, this is almost like dipping your toes in to the water before you dive in to the pool (if the pool was full of molten- hot lava) before fading out and leading directly into the next track…
The first full length track that we are treated to is ‘The Return’. This song shows you the real goal of his album; to eviscerate everything it’s path. A brief, yet epic sounding introduction leads in to the real metal onslaught. The drums sound like a heavy calibre machine gun, the guitars are intricate and work together fantastically well. This is excellent songwriting, so often when music gets to this level of heaviness it loses the kind of riffing that really entices music fans and substitutes it for monotonous chugs (sorry to the Emmure fans amongst the readers). The vocals are down right hellacious on this track, the range that is on show from Ben Duerr is simply extraordinary. I would go as far so to say that you could stand his vocals up on this album against any current Extreme Metal front man. We are also treated to the first dose of clean vocals on the album from guitarist Chris Wiseman. His rough tones work incredibly well with the rest of the music to give you a good sense of melody without sounding too nicey-nice (this is Death Metal after all). In the latter stages of the track we see a fantastic duel guitar attack, complete with a fantastic guitar solo and intertwining harmonised guitars that are set to keep the guitar nerds amongst you happy (I am a self-confessed member of that category myself). Overall this is a solid welcome to the album and the perfect mission statement.
The next track carries on in the same vein. ‘The Horror Within’ was released with a music video prior to the release of the album and in my opinion it was a perfect choice. It shows what the band does best by providing breakdowns, buzz saw riffs and dirty, deep guttural vocal lines. The keys in the background once again add another layer to the track to create a huge sound. This sort of symphonic attribute has been used by certain band before in a similar way (take Bleeding Through for example) and if it used in the right way it can have some very positive results in making the album as a whole link together on a very grand scale. The drums once again impress with some thunderous blast beats and mind-shattering fills, this is Matt Kohanowski in the form of his life. The interesting twist in this song comes from an August Burns Red-esque clean guitar break at around the half way part of the track leading in to the clean vocals. This stops the listener from becoming to comfortable and settling in to any particular rhythm or switching off mid-track. A simple idea completed with complex musicianship and proves to be very effective.
Next up is the track ‘The Catacombs’ and a chance to see the first guest vocal appearance on ”Reclaimer’ which comes from not only Dickie Allen from Infant Annihilator but from one the main front runners in the Technical Death Metal game Jason Evans from Ingested (if having two names like this on your sophomore album isn’t a seal of approval, I don’t know what is). As far as the track itself goes it is pretty much your standard meat and potatoes Death Metal track. It is finished to a high standard as you would have come to expect from this particular release but I would not say that it was once of my personal highlights. One thing I will say though is make sure you check out the opening scream as it is simply amazing. Trust me on this one.
The next song of note on the album is ‘The Gathering Of All’ which once again features a guest vocalist (this time it is Alexsandr Shikolai of Slaughter To Prevail). Vocalist Ben Duerr once again steps up his game and provides arguably his best vocals on this album. The drums continue to pulverise (I shudder to thing how many skins had to be replaced on the studio drum kit during recording this monolith of an album), the stringed instruments continue to bind together perfectly like the well-oiled machine that they are. A fantastic guitar solo at around the one-minute mark shows exactly what I mean, this is metal lead guitar playing at it’s best. One thing that I feel certainly deserves to be mentioned on this track is the Born Of Osiris inspired keyboard parts that are most prominent in the introduction, a fantastic addition to the track and yet another tool that has been added to the already overflowing toolbox that the boys have acquired.
Next up is the track ‘The Prophet’s Beckoning’ and this one has a very special treat for the listeners. As if the impressive list of guest vocalists wasn’t enough, the guys have saved space for one more cameo on this collection of macabre metal masterpieces.This one is from none other than Tom Barber of the American Deathcore heart throbs Lorna Shore. This, in my personal opinion is the greatest fit of the lot. He may not be the highest profile guest on the record but he fits the overall sound and feel of the album so well that one could almost believe that he is a full-fledged member of the band. The track itself doesn’t stray too far from the path that the rest of ‘Reclaimer’ has taken. The riffs are gargantuan, the breakdowns are large enough to shift tectonic plates and the vocals sound like they have come from the mouth of Lucifer himself. I feel at this point it is very important for me to state that I am not in fact the President or indeed even a member of the Shadow Of Intent fan club. This album is just that damn good.
This album goes to show you that Extreme Metal music is still alive and well and if there are bands of this quality still sitting in the minor leagues waiting to come through then the future looks very fucking bright indeed.
1. We Descend…
2. The Return
3. The Horror Within
4. The Catacombs (Feat. Jason Evans & Dickie Allen)
5. The Mad Tyrant’s Betrayal
6. The Gathering Of All (Feat. Aleksandr Shikolai)
7. The Heretic Prevails
8. The Prophet’s Beckoning (Feat. Tom Barber)
9. The Forsaken Effigy
10. The Great Schism
11. The Mausoleum Of Liars
12. The Tartarus Impalement
Total Playing Time: 57:55