I bought this band’s debut at the Inferno Festival in 2016 along with a shirt as they were one of the best bands of the festival and I admit to being a bit nervy about this sophomore album as the first one was unique, a blend of black metal with doom touches, using harsh and clean vocals with equal effectiveness. Starting this off is “Tributary Waters” and that blackened shroud is prevalent as the intro piece gathers impetus via a melancholic riff and a lingering clean vocal cry that leads neatly into “Donau”, and if I’m honest the first two songs could have been spliced together though I understand why they’re not. The moment “Donau” starts the clean vocal delivery is exceptional, possessing clarity and depth of tone. Forceful density carried by the slow pervading double kick allows the mournful riffing to hook you in. I wasn’t convinced with the gothic like vocal style as even at this early juncture in the album the myriad of riffs, melodies and beats are interlaced into one expansive sonic tapestry that continues with “Tide Against Us”. With a sorrowful start the lone guitar riff is embellished with a doom like aura on the drum beat enabling the multiple clean vocals to create a layering effect as the songs intensifies via the double kick evolving the track into a black metal style especially when the harsh vocal arrives.
Sticking to the black metal style “House Of Cries” is a torrent of blasting with a vicious initial piece that quickly subsides into a doleful melody, decreasing the tempo cohesively as the clean vocals start which are some of the best I’ve heard in the last few years. You can feel the emotion dripping from the tones, heart wrenching at times in a Katatonia way of thinking. That emotionally charged delivery isn’t just the vocals as the title track shows, with its slow pervasive beat being linked to the gothic like vocals, better here, as the song evolves to a soundscape of progressive dexterity, flamboyant without pretension, aggressive but highly controlled as my reference to Katatonia rears its head again here.
There is a magisterial eloquence to this album, opulent and ambitious musicianship that “Carry On My Tiny Hope” so brilliantly demonstrates. The songs flooding double kick creates an undercurrent for the riffing which has a potent and intoxicating style, memorable and possessing inherent catchiness. The song flow on the album is excellent, something I’m sure the band dwelled on as “We Ain’t Ashes” contrasts beautifully with “Carry On My Tiny Hope” by dropping the tempo into full doom laden tones, unleashing a solemn riff with rueful vocals. The song has a doom death approach only with clean vocals until about half way, when a deathly growl interrupts with the developing passion of the song. The opening melody to “A Thousand Storms” is stunning leading the song into an upbeat tempo with the doom death style before reining in for the vocals to take over. That slow persistent drumming style is heavy but tempered by the riffing and vocals and comparatively I felt it was like Eternal Deformity, only a little cleaner overall.
A voice sample starts “The Kolyma Route” as the song leads us down a meandering avenue of scintillating riffing and melodious vocals chained to harsher tones. The heaviness of this album goes almost unnoticed such is the supremely unified and fluidly engaging the music that the album blankets you with. The release seems to get heavier as it progresses but is possibly down to the overall atmosphere which ends with the charming “Death Of A River”, with acoustic guitar baring a soulful and resolutely sorrowful melody that sits within the song’s fabric; tearful yet enthralling.
I expected a good album from Shores Of Null but what I got instead is a brilliant and captivating progressive metal release that fans of Anathema, Katatonia, Novembre and other similar outfits should definitely check. A glorious, alluring and gripping album.
(9.5/10 Martin Harris)