Written by Kirk
Shores of Null – The Loss of Beauty
> Blackened/gothic doom
> Releasing March 24
> Spikerot Records
Death/doom is such an unusual fusion of sub-genres. In most cases, it comes in the form of slow-paced death metal (e.g. Coffins and Void Witch) or doom metal that’s cranked up to 45 RPM (e.g. Paradise Lost and Novembers Doom). Both are perfectly fine with me; I love doom metal in all its myriad forms and executions. And let’s face it, sometime we just don’t have time for a six-plus minute song to slowly peel the flesh from our faces with those slow, brutal riffs. That’s where Shores of Null come in. They’ve been at the death/doom game for about a decade now, and they definitely put the “death” before the “doom.” They also lean into the melodic side of death metal and the clean singing of traditional doom metal, which gives their latest album, The Loss of Beauty, a somber, gothic edge.
If you’re at all familiar with the music of Shores of Null, you’ve probably noticed how they’ve slowed down and really turned up the doom influences since parting ways with Candlelight Records after the release of Black Drapes for Tomorrow in 2017. They moved to Spikerot Records (co-founded by member Davide Straccione) and released the death/doom monolith that is Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying) in November 2020. But the songs on The Loss of Beauty aren’t as new as you might expect; in fact, all of the material was recorded and ready for release ahead of Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying). The outbreak of a global pandemic and the world screeching to a halt got the band thinking that releasing a 38-minute doom and gloom magnum opus was a better way to close out an otherwise tragic year.
So Shores of Null sat on these songs, waiting for the right time to release them. They self-released a live acoustic performance on Christmas Eve of 2021, and then, in mid December 2022, the first sign of what was to come appeared. The first single, “Nothing Left to Burn”, dropped, followed by “The Last Flower” a month later, followed by the My Darkest Years EP a month after that and then the Destination Woe EP a few weeks later. You see, they’re teasing us. Getting us ready. Whetting our appetites for what is to come. And you know what? IT’S WORKING.
The Loss of Beauty, the long-awaited album, opens with “Transitory,” an aggressively doomy track full of pounding drums and heavy guitars. True to its name, this track is brief (a whopping 1:21) and serves as a warm-up to the thunderous opening of “Destination Woe”. The gates are torn asunder, guitars and drums ablaze in full glory. I don’t know if saying “mournfully triumphant” is a thing, but I think it’s a perfect descriptor for this song. We then find ourselves in “The Last Flower”, one of my favorite songs on the album. The once soaring guitars change to a much more somber tone, a glorious celebration of the melancholy. Guitarists Gabriele Giaccari and Raffaele Colace are simply stellar throughout this entire album, but their contributions on this song really make it stand out.
The tempo slows down even further as we enter “Darkness Won’t Take Me,” the drumming of Emiliano Cantiano once again playing the role of the torchbearer. Gabriele and Raffaele create quite the dirge here, their instruments rising towards the sky only to be sucked back down into the darkness again and again. Meanwhile, Davide has gone full gothic with these heartwrenching lyrics:
“These empty streets / I’m bound to walk alone / I’m the last one standing / Adrift and alone / Darkness won’t take me / A villain with decay / Loneliness will guide me”
Neither tempo nor mood are elevated as we go stomping into “Nothing Left to Burn”. The flow of this album is phenomenal; there are times where you can’t tell where one song ends and the next one begins. One distinction here is Davide’s marked increase in death metal gutturals, which have been used very sparingly (but tastefully!) throughout this record. The tempo picks back up with “Old Scars”, with Emiliano, Gabriele, and Raffaele putting a little extra “death” into their death/doom as we reach the midpoint of the album. And then a baby starts crying as the band suddenly goes acoustic, “The First Son” signaling the beginning of Act II (sad piano and all).
The interlude is brief as Gabriele and Raffaele get revved up, guitars buzzing as “A Nature in Disguise” begins to build. Bassist Matteo Capozucca really stands out on this song, giving it a significant amount of punch from the rhythm section. In truth, this one delivers from top to bottom. This newfound energy bursts forth into “My Darkest Years,” a song punctuated by more of Davide’s gutturals. And again songs blend as we move onward into “Fading as One” with no break in the tempo. This was another standout track for me; the guitars absolutely soar, and Emiliano’s drumming is just impeccable.
Our journey is almost over. Closing out the album is “A New Death is Born,” riding the wave at its crest as we prepare for it to crash upon the beach, crushing everything in its path. Seriously, the last four songs have been incredible. But wait, there’s more! Two bonus tracks accompany this album, but I’m not going to tell you about them. They’re really good, and if you want to hear them, you’ll have to go listen to them when the album releases.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The list of bands who have released a masterpiece album and then failed to properly follow it up is long and grows longer by the day. Sometimes you catch lightning in a bottle only once in your entire career, and the ghost of that success can haunt even the best of bands. Only a fool would say that Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying) is not a masterpiece, and The Loss of Beauty is certainly up to the task of cementing Shores of Null’s legacy as masters of gothic death/doom. But for an album to truly be appreciated, we must first listen to it. And The Loss of Beauty is absolutely worthy of your time. It’s big, bold, and has a wealth of depth and emotion, and I challenge you to find one song that doesn’t speak to you in some way. Because I don’t think you can.