SHORES OF NULL
Candlelight Records, 24 March 2014
If null means zero, and quiescence is inactivity, then you have to assume that these titles have been chosen ironically. That’s because there is such a lot going on with this busy, intriguing debut album – it’s doom metal, but perhaps not as you know it. Epic, violent, gothic, thrashy, progressive, thundering… and yet decidedly bleak and gloomy. Italy’s Shores Of Null are a combustible mix of Alice In Chains, Mastodon, Paradise Lost, In Flames, Amon Amarth and many more besides.
This could so easily have turned into a disorientating tangle, but instead the various influences and genres are tributaries and streams flowing gracefully into one mighty river; a powerful, reviving torrent of inspired heavy metal. The ten songs on ‘Quiescence’ flood over you, often at pace, carrying you off in an entirely enveloping embrace.
With numerous uptempo passages and short, snappy tracks, this is perhaps not for the funeral fans amongst you, and, in truth, amid the many curious twists and turns, the music even flirts with power metal on occasion. If you are willing to dip your toe into such dramatic waters, then you will find plenty to savour here.
There are, of course, many parts which are straight-up, in-your-face doom metal (see for example: 1.40 Track 2, 2.11 Track 3, 0.01 Track 6, 1.47 Track 8, 2.46 Track 10 as well as the notably Paradise Lost-like Pain Masquerade) and the band has performed at numerous doom festivals over recent months to wide acclaim. But before long these restless Romans cannot resist the call of the wild, and inevitably change direction once more.
Shores Of Null’s sound is heavy but accessible. Against a wall of seething guitars, Davide Straccione’s vocals are clean and impressive, with growls and screams used occasionally and to good effect. For the majority of the album, though, Jerry Cantrell-style vocal harmonies dominate, creating a melancholic and often desperate atmosphere. The sound of someone trying not to drown in the dark, swirling waters, crying out to the implacable shores.
On reflection, perhaps the words ‘null’ and ‘quiescence’ represent the empty silence of daily existence, which the band spectacular fill with colour and magic. ‘Quiescence’ is a unique, often-beautiful blast of multi-layered metal. From the edge of nothingness, the shores of null, the Italian band have created a fascinating album that fans of doom metal and many other genres can explore and enjoy.