A harrowing eclipse darkens the sea of blood.
Success is as sure of a way to test a band’s mettle than any level of adversity, and following what might be dubbed the triumph that was Massachusetts deathcore trustees Worm Shepherd‘s 2022 sophomore LP “Ritual Hymns”, it would seem that the test had been failed given that most of the lineup would subsequently implode and leave this group as a de facto two-person studio project. Nevertheless, the remnant membership of vocalist Devin Duarte and guitarist Tre Purdue, both co-founders of this symphonic take on breaking things down, have remained undaunted in their quest to create a sound that is as unrelentingly brutal as it is densely orchestrated and strangely beautiful in its quest for the ultimate degree of sonic ugliness.
To the uninitiated, the stylistic playground that this fold dabbles in is fairly similar to the blackened aesthetic that has been the principle expression of Carnfex and Lorna Shore for the past decade or so. The result is a sound that is about as heavily informed by the mystique of Cradle Of Filth and Dimmu Borgir as it is the auditory barbarism of Hatebreed, and it is a sound that endures to the same qualitative result on this mini-LP in an EP format dubbed “The Sleeping Sun”.
The menacing way that the slow-trudging and bottom-heavy guitars intermingle with the droning, airy character of the surrounding orchestral samples ranges from hazily hypnotic to utterly unsettling. The drum work of session kit man Alex Nourse gels perfectly at all points, providing an organic yet precision-based foundation that is unshaken by the down-tuned guitars.
The songs that round out this elongated EP are about as ambitious as they come in this style, eschewing the very concept of a standard verse/chorus format, yet weaving in enough consonant hooks via the surrounding keyboards to be reasonably catchy in spite of it all. It’s a consistent blend of pummeling grooves and a shimmering atmosphere laid on top, occasionally adorned with a brilliantly placed guitar melody as on the standout track ‘The Dying Heavens’, which dwells the most upon this band’s blackened tendencies. This isn’t to say that more slam-like entries like ‘The Broken Earth’ or the slow-progressing epic opener ‘The Frozen Lake, Pt. II (The Ruined)’ are any less enthralling, but the way that the aforementioned ‘The Dying Heavens’ tastefully showcases Purdue‘s talents as a lead guitarist present a strength that is sadly not exploited to its full potential.
It’s all but a foregone conclusion that anyone that goes in symphonic deathcore directions will like what this EP has to offer. It’s not quite the entire package that the previous LP was, and it begs the question of just what this band will do in the future about a permanent lineup given that this particularly subset of deathcore requires a full band to pull off live, but for a studio effort with only two heads being put together it comes off as solidly inventive and worthy of what this fold has already accomplished.
It touches just about every base in the brutality department from blackened death metal to slam-based brutality, all the while keeping the metallic side of the coin on a slightly superior footing to its obvious hardcore influences. It’s a haunting ride, and a nasty fit of bestial rage bottled into just over 30 minutes of earth-shaking heaviness, so light a candle and prepare to swim in a sea of lamb’s blood.
Released By: Unique Leader Records
Release Date: August 18th, 2023
Genre: Symphonic Deathcore
“The Sleeping Sun“ Track-List:
- The Frozen Lake, Pt. II (The Ruined)
- The Broken Earth
- The Tortured Path
- The Dying Heavens
- The Parting Sea
Order “The Sleeping Sun” HERE.
The success of Massachusetts symphonic deathcore upstarts Worm Shepherd proved a double-edged sword, as their signing to Unique Leader Records and subsequent notoriety via their 2022 sophomore LP Ritual Hymns would see this promising quintet’s lineup fall apart, though determination would subsequently prevail as the now two-member studio band unleash a respectable EP follow up dubbed The Sleeping Sun to keep the flame alive and their devotion to the standards set forth by Lorna Shore and Carnifex in tow.