Shores of Null – The Loss of Beauty (Spikerot Records)Wednesday, 29th March 2023
Having been a Dead Rhetoric staff favorite since their debut album Quiescence, Italy’s Shores of Null have carved out a specific niche for themselves within the doom metal spectrum. The most defining trait of which being lead vocalist Davide Straccione’s phenomenal voice, which resembles a combination of Amorphis’ Tomi Joutsen’s soothing melancholic mid-range delivery and the sadly defunct Ghost Brigade’s Manne Ikonen’s hypnotic croon. Add in large quantities of mournful bleakness, and the result is an unmistakable sound that has taken the melancholic doom world by storm. When the momentously brave Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying) single song concept album (our review here) was recorded in 2019/2020, so was The Loss of Beauty during those sessions, which is now being released approximately 3 years later.
When first listening to Shores of Null’s now fourth full-length, it becomes evident that this is sort of a sibling to Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying). Different in structure, certainly, but sharing the same air. Not a criticism, mind you, as things sure got weird in 2020. What we’re presented with is not an evolution from their previous album, but more the other side of the proverbial coin. The resultant is a storm cloud of pure bliss.
Ever the masters of merging melancholic atmospheres with those intoxicating cleans (and added guttural growls) to mix into one of the most enjoyable expressions of their chosen style. After the obligatory intro track that sets the table, “Destination Woe” flows with a quickened tempo and an earworm of a chorus balanced by Straccione’s aggrieved harsh vocal side, twisted together with a mass of seriously catchy hooks. Seamlessly moving into an equally somber and dynamic “The Last Flower,” a pronounced sense of urgency is put forth that captivatingly builds throughout. That impelling tone is at the heart of The Loss of Beauty, exemplified by the weighty and downtrodden rhythms of “Darkness Won’t Take Me” and “Nothing Left to Burn,” while “Old Scars” breaks out a fine assortment of dreary melodies to mix with an unbridled crunchiness.
A piano driven interlude titled “The First Son” is well placed to give the album room to breathe before smoothly traversing into “A Nature in Disguise,” methodically blooming into a soaring tremolo guitar driven entry of which is a certain highlight. Blackened riffs constitute a differing texture in “My Darkness,” followed by “Fading As One” embracing an Amorphis-ish grandiosity, while “A New Death is Born” boasts a Novembre-inspired gothic doom underpinning. Take note: If you choose the CD or digital edition (but left off of the LP), there are two bonus tracks – “Underwater Oddity” and “Blazing Sunlight.” The former is a mid-paced affair with the standard Shores of Null tropes, while the latter is an instrumental consisting of a slow piano piece accentuated by rustling wind. Both are fine additions, but “A New Death is Born” does feel like a more natural way to end proceedings.
While the general formula remains largely the same, Shores of Null manages to keep their output fresh enough to not become repetitious. A more liberal usage of death growls, in addition to copious amounts of lush melodies, provide enough variance while not messing with the foundational principles that make the Italian quintet so endearing. The Loss of Beauty is an engaging, exquisite, and moving slice of melodic doom that further cements Shores of Null’s esteemed position in the scene.