Shadow Of Intent – Elegy
Released: January 14, 2022
Ben Duerr // Vocals
Chris Wiseman // Guitar
Bryce Butler // Drums
Andrew Monias // Bass
It’s coming… Shadow of Intent‘s almighty Elegy record. This album has been highly anticipated from the moment it was announced, particularly after hearing their exceptional effort on Melancholy not too long ago. This new wave of deathcore is upon us, and Shadow of Intent are leading the pack. Prior to the release of their fourth studio album, the Connecticut outfit have dropped a number of dazzling singles, namely ‘Intensified Genocide‘, ‘From Ruin… We Rise‘, ‘Where Millions Have Come To Die‘ feat. Whitechapel‘s Phil Bozeman, and most recently ‘Of Fury‘. They’re doing this all independently, and have set some new standards in the genre, but less fluffing – let’s get straight into it, and find out whether the blackened record cuts the mustard (spoiler alert: it does).
The ominous opener ‘Farewell‘ opens with operatic drama, it all feels super epic already, and you’re just bracing yourself. A minute in and it all collapses for a moment, before the blistering drums kick in alongside that opera. Frontman Ben Deurr dives straight into a demonic roar with the first verse. The chorus entangles sustained vocals, dragged into the depths of hell with a heavenly guitar solo. We’re then graced with Elegy‘s first breakdown, and every moment of its glory is held for as long as possible for a prolonged edging breakdown. And, when it does guitarist Chris Wiseman throws down some riffs that’ll mesmerise you. There’s so much body to the first track, it’s like a fine wine, and it shows real promise for the next hour’s worth of brand new music from Shadow of Intent.
You might need a breather before continuing with ‘Saurian King’, however it’s brief calming riff will allow you to catch your breath, but only for a moment as those pounding drums rapidly return, and Deurr belches his hellish roar. The symphonic elements return fast to support with the building tension across the track. ‘Saurian King’ is one of the longer songs on this record, lasting more than five-minutes, and contains all the elements you’d ever need on an SOI track. The technical side of Shadow of Intent is well-demonstrated here as they execute perfect unison, considering the rafts of pace. Between the blackened sections, the band lean into their melodic sections, both instrumentally and vocally; in particularly the guitars, these riffs are absolutely insane.
It’s great to hear so many new tunes before the already-heard singles even come up on Elegy. Teasing us with speed, Shadow of Intent accelerate immediately with ‘The Coming Fire‘ which includes chants, roars and of course, those damn fine violins. Although the symphonic elements perpetuate across this band’s side in a truly signature manner, there’s only a handful of songs leaning into that full extent that it unlocks that ‘epic’ factor that leaves you jaw-dropped; ‘The Coming Fire‘ is one of those. It happens when Deurr syncs his belch with the symphony, while Bryce Butler drums as fast as he possibly can, well I’d be impressed if he could drum faster. I really loved some of Shadow of Intent‘s signature sonic themes featured uniquely again, with reference to the emerging sound in Melancholy.
It’s probably a good thing we start to hear some singles, as the opening third of Elegy has been an intense flurry of sensations with all the new tunes. ‘Of Fury’ sits really nicely on this record after hearing it as a standalone. It has this melodic texture of a Christmas/holiday song somehow, tying in well with the single’s release in December. The track is catchy and deep with instrumental layers. It’s a really groovy single… from a blackened deathcore perspective anyway. The song encapsulates what ‘pumping the brakes’ might look like on the ‘heaviness’ dial. However, ‘Of Fury’ is absolutely brutal, it just takes on a bit more of a rhythmic and balanced direction, and is a suitable intersection on the record. You may get blindsided by a tasty instrumental as the single lowers towards a finish.
Not much needs to be said about ‘Intensified Genocide‘, because it’s why you’re gagging for Elegy, and why you knew it would sit on their biggest record yet. You already know that the guitar tones, blackened riffs, accelerated vocals and spectacular drums are what makes this song so prolific. You’ve probably also nearly passed out from the continuous breakdowns.
Alright, ‘Life of Exile‘ allows you to rebalance once again (for a bit anyway). Slowing things right down as the record hits a halfway point, and they showcase their melodic sound once again, clean vocals included (yes, you read that right). Deurr certainly doesn’t hold back from his lead-vocal effort as well, but his talents allow a vocal drag that sits well with the clean vocals and melodic direction of the song. It’s going to hit differently when you hear this one, particularly intertwined with the carnage of the tracks that it’s sandwiched in, and you already know this, because you’ve heard the next sequence.
‘Where Millions Have Come To Die’ is simply out of control. Oh, and it features Whitechapel‘s Phil Bozeman. You may have heard it already, but even so, it sounds even better in a deep Elegy narrative. The single is led by marching drums and Deurr immediately engrossing himself in a harrowing speed-vocal medley. There is unbelievable pace throughout and it fits perfectly for Bozeman to slot right in, and relatively early in the piece too compared to most features, which is refreshing. It’s awesome to hear the guest feature in a track that leans into the deathcore style that the guest (in Whitechapel) used to dabble in far more, historically, before shifting towards more of a nu-deathcore direction in recent years. It’s now Shadow of Intent‘s M.O; a perfect feature opportunity for all parties involved, and another showcasing of the next gen in the game.
You’ve also heard ‘From Ruin… We Rise‘, and it works well in this sequence, because it feels like a junction of a deathcore playlist with the element of surprise in all the tracks you haven’t heard. ‘From Ruin… We Rise’ despatches eerie keys which rapidly boil down into tuned-down riffs and explosive drums. Duerr projects menacingly, as the rest of the band slows things way back down again. The chorus combines overlays of the band’s extreme highs and lows, with operatic keys floating up and about. The impeccable production is worth noting, with every element perfected in sound and timing, making this one anthemic for Shadow of Intent, and also making it an ideal song to play live.
Prior to this record’s release we had heard one one of two songs with guest features, here’s the second one. ‘Blood in the Sands of Time‘ features the one and only Chuck Billy from Testament. Before even hearing it, you’ve got to be excited. It is the ultimate crescendo of old and new. It is a tribute to some of the bands and genres from decades before us that helped shape and evolve metal to what we have today, with bands like Shadow of Intent. As the track opens, you can imagine Deurr in a classic deathcore pose, partly bent, holding his hands in a half-first, cackling into the sky. The riff-tuning leads us once again into the gates of hell, as it switches from symphonic highs to hellish lows. Deurr takes us a seriously heavy verse, before it rapidly transitions to Billy who fits in so well with the instrumentation. Whilst there’s an obvious distinction between these two vocalists, the style of song allows Billy to lean into his thrash-vocal sound and everything else complimenting it universally; something you need to hear from yourself. The song picks up again to total annihilation of the senses, before once again calming and segue-waying into an instrumental.
‘Reconquest‘ gets Deurr on the waters for a few minutes (as if at a gig), while the rest of the band lean into their technical glory. I’m not a man of instrumentals, generally speaking, but this one outstandingly showcases why vocals weren’t necessary. No gaps need to be filled, as the rest of Shadow of Intent adore you with varying styles, paces and microscopes into their different components – it’s a really nice way of the band transitioning us into the trifecta title-track(s). Got a spare fifteen minutes?
‘Elegy I: Adapt‘ – the first chapter continues with ‘Reconquest‘s ending steady pass and showcases guitar and bass with a pure clean-vocal effort, but things start to pick up quickly after this two-minute medley. ‘Elegy II: Devise‘ – this is when Deurr returns, all recharged and everything (obviously in this scenario, they’re playing Elegy front-to-back at a gig, stick with me here). Those operatic factors once again interject the blackened deathcore chaos, as those marching drums take over. A clean-vocal chorus will catch you by surprise between Deurr’s screams. The song is completely controlled and returns to calm as and when they need it to, without it feeling forced. The contrast between the blistering hell and calming opera is what makes it sound so remarkable, in the same way that Periphery dabble in djent, without presenting it on every second of every song. ‘Elegy III: Overcome‘ – a six-minute finale. With a groove-metal vocal effort, Deurr channels Lamb of God‘s Randy Blythe for a moment before they dial it back up for some more symphonic deathcore carnage. Shadow of Intent combine the deep textural elements we’ve heard across the record, into one encapsulating combination that’ll leave you breathless by the end, and likely emotionally exhausted, shocked, and blown away by their latest effort.
Elegy lasts for over an hour, an impressive feat in music nowadays. It has Shadow of Intent‘s best production yet, something for blackened fans, deathcore fans, symphonic/operatic fans, death metal fans and everything in between, providing you like your music stupid-fucking-heavy.
Shadow of Intent – Elegy tracklisting
2. Saurian King
3. The Coming Fire
4. Of Fury
5. Intensified Genocide
6. Life of Exile
7. Where Millions Have Come To Die (feat. Phil Bozeman)
8. From Ruin… We Rise
9. Blood in the Sands of Time (feat. Chuck Billy)
11. Elegy I: Adapt
12. Elegy II: Devise
13. Elegy III: Overcome