Sounds You Need In Your Ears
Episode 13: The Red Shore
Jason Leombruni // guitars
Roman Koester // guitars
Jake Green // drums
Chase Butler // vocals
Tim Anderson // bass
Richard Johnson // drums
Damien Morris // vocals
Jamie Hope // bass/vocals
Jon Green // bass
Tim Shearman // drums
A band whose name will always be synonymous with the tragedy that befell them early in their career, Melbourne/Naarm’s The Red Shore were a group that worked hard, created excellent music, but never truly got their deserved rewards.
Formed in Geelong in 2004 by drummer Richard Johnson and bassist Jamie Hope, The Red Shore quickly added guitarist Jason Leombruni and vocalist Damien Morris to their lineup. Putting out their first demo The Beloved Prosecutors the following year, the four piece immediately started to build a name for themselves in the burgeoning Australian metalcore scene. More extreme than a lot of their contemporaries, the rough three-track release showed a lot of potential; the group effortlessly fused tremolo-picked guitar lines and blast beats with more melodic and emotional elements synonymous wth acts like I Killed The Prom Queen and Bleeding Through.
After signing to Modern Music in 2006, The Red Shore got to work on their debut EP, Salvaging What’s Left. Expanding the band’s lineup with the addition of second guitarist Roman Koester, who also served as their producer and engineer, the EP took all the elements of the demo and cranked them up. Faster, heavier and with better production quality, Salvaging What’s Left’s combination of death metal, breakdowns and brief melodic passages would become ubiquitous with deathcore – a style that they were right at the forefront of. The Red Shore also dealt with their first lineup change, with drummer Richard Johnson amicably parting with the group not long after Salvaging…’s release, being replaced with Jake Green.
Having quickly grown through the local heavy music ranks, thanks to constant touring and the then-popularity of MySpace, the band once again entered Koester’s Complex Studio in late 2007 to record their debut album. However, the opportunity to support USA deathcore heavyweight’s All Shall Perish on their Australian Christmas Carnage tour arose, so The Red Shore made the fateful choice to pause the recording process and embark on the nationwide tour.
Whilst on the overnight 10-hour drive between gigs from Brisbane and Sydney, tragedy struck. The touring party’s van crashed outside of Coffs Harbour, killing merch manager Andy Milner and lead vocalist Damien Morris. The Red Shore were faced with a gut-wrenching decision in the wake of the horrible accident; whether to continue or split up. After some deliberation, they decided to forge on and complete their debut LP in memory of their fallen friends. With bassist Jamie Hope stepping into the frontman role, and drummer Jake Green’s younger brother Jon replacing Hope on bass, The Red Shore soldiered on. After going on the road in May 2008 to support I Killed The Prom Queen, as well as a run in Europe supporting Bring Me The Horizon, the band unleashed their first full length, Unconsecrated on the 8th of November 2008.
Opening track ‘The Garden of Impurity’ was the perfect way to welcome this new era of The Red Shore. The band’s sound had grown even more brutal and complex, eschewing the more metalcore-styled and melodic sounds of their EP, and planting them firmly in the technical deathcore scene. The riffs and drums fly fast, as too does the tempo and feel changes – it’s far from verse/chorus/verse music. As he passed away during the early stages of recording the album, The Red Shore decided to keep original vocalist Morris’ performances on three of the numbers – including the aforementioned opener, ‘The Architects of Repulsion’ and the punishing ‘The Forefront of Failure’. However much praise must also be attributed to the newly promoted frontman Hope; his vocals are absolutely stellar, hitting high throaty screams and guttural growls, and was truly the best replacement for Morris. Other excellent highlights are ‘Misery Hymn’, ‘Slain By The Serpent’ and the twisting, adrenaline-soaked closer ‘Vehemence the Phoenix’.
After Unconsecrated’s release, time on the road followed for The Red Shore, completing national tours with overseas acts As Blood Runs Black, For The Fallen Dreams and BMTH. In May 2009 the band came out with The Lost Verses, containing re-recordings and new arrangements of material from their first EP and demo. Whilst an interesting collection – especially to hear the songs with improved production qualities – it served more as a stop gap before they could craft their next full length. But before the group could work on their sophomore record, more lineup changes were afoot. Drummer Jake Green was first to leave, followed not long after by frontman Jamie Hope -replacing them was Tim Shearman and vocalist Chase Butler, respectively. Despite these changes, The Red Shore once again forged ahead, and would create what many see as their magnum opus, 2010’s The Avarice of Man.
The Red Shore’s second full length saw them moving even further into the extreme metal world. Any remaining elements of deathcore had been removed completely, instead, the technical and death metal aspects were at the front of the band’s sound. First single ‘The Seed of Annihilation’ was the best choice to introduce fans to The Avarice of Man, being the most immediate song on the album – with a solid groove sitting between the moments of extreme pace. Other high points include ‘Human, All Too Human’, ‘Armies of Damnation’, ‘Inflict De–Creation’ and the polyrhythm-driven title track. The music is undeniably complex and brutal, yet ear-grabbing and highly addictive – fans of Hate Eternal, Decrepit Birth, Nile and early Decapitated will lap it up. New frontman Butler’s vocal performance was the perfect fit for this change of sound, however, with his performance focused mostly on low growls it was seen as a bit of a sticking point for older fans, with some lamenting the lack of high screams akin to their earlier material. What cannot be denied is the upping of the production values – I’d argue that The Avarice of Man is one of the best sounding extreme metal releases, ever. Powerful drums, thick low end (with an actually audible bass) and crushing guitar tone; it’s got that perfect balance of sounding precise and real, yet not clinically overproduced and sterile. Hats off to Koester.
More touring followed, with the band venturing into the United States for the first time, as well as the direct support for deathcore OGs’ Despised Icon’s Australian farewell shows in November 2010. It must be said, that despite putting out an excellent record – one of the best metal releases from this country – it sadly didn’t bring The Red Shore huge success or push them to the next level. The cause was more than likely simple, yet frustrating; The Avarice of Man was too death metal for the deathcore crowd, and the stigma of their ‘core’ past meant it was never given a proper chance by many ardent death metal fans. It was like they were caught in between two different crowds, as opposed to appealing to both.
After a period of silence, the five-piece decided to call it a day in October 2011. Post-The Red Shore activity was varied for the former members; Jamie Hope wound up fronting I Killed The Prom Queen, lending his harsh vocals to their 2011 comeback record Beloved and staying with the band until they too quietly disbanded in 2017. Guitarist Roman Koester toured with Thy Art Is Murder between 2011 and 2012 and not long after joined the now-defunct deathcore group Boris The Blade, while fellow axe-man Jason Leombruni hooked up with Adelaide brutal death metal outfit Splatterpuss. Bassist Jon Green became a member of hardcore act Deez Nuts for a four-year stint, whilst his brother and The Red Shore’s second drummer Jake joined death metallers The Ophidian Ascension.
After nearly a decade of inactivity, in late 2019 The Red Shore surprisingly announced their appearance at Sydney’s Invasion Fest in January 2020, and then subsequently a headlining show in Melbourne in April. The reformed lineup was something of a combination of the first and second album’s members – longtime guitarists Koester and Leombruni were there, as to was the Unconsecrated drummer Jake Green. The Avarice of Man frontman Chase Butler on vocals, whilst bass was handled by Tim Anderson, who had filled in for the group for their last run of dates in 2010.
Sadly the two reunion shows did not go on as planned. With Butler unable to perform at Invasion Fest due to his involvement in fighting the bushfires that were raging throughout Eastern Australia at the time, Jack The Stripper frontman Luke Frizon filled in and did a more than admirable job. Their setlist pulled tracks from across their whole career, and delivered an ultra-tight performance that belied their nine-plus years of absence. Thanks to the always reliable hate5six Youtube channel, pro-shot footage is available of the whole show, as well as excellent drum cam footage of Green tearing it up. Then, unsurprisingly, due to the Covid pandemic that had begun to sweep the planet, the Melbourne headliner was eventually cancelled.
So what’s next for The Red Shore? There have been no updates from the group’s social media accounts since the Melbourne cancellation – perhaps that glimmer of hope that it could lead to a fully-fledged reunion tour with a new album has dimmed. Whatever comes of the band’s future, every member of The Red Shore should look back at their efforts with great pride. They released an EP that was ahead of the curve, before putting out two sublime full lengths that easily stand toe-to-toe with their more revered and international counterparts. They deserved far more success than they achieved, but should hold their collective heads high knowing that they created some of Australia’s finest extreme metal music.
Long Live The Red Shore…