Review Summary: More than just another deathcore release.
Shadow of Intent first grasped the attention of the deathcore community with the release of their debut full length Primordial in 2016. Just one year later, the band returns with a better produced, more coherent record filled with emotion and exciting ideas.
The entire album is filled with superb songwriting that keeps the listener guessing. Songs like "The Prophet's Beckoning" start out slowly with a powerful guitar riff and complementing orchestra. The song quickly and picks up speed and evolves into one of the fastest on the album, complete with blast beats and breakneck vocals. The song then carries into the chorus, which incorporates clean vocals. In all of two minutes, we experience orchestral instruments, blast beats, guitar solos, clean vocals, and traditional growls. For some bands, this would be too much to handle and the song would risk sounding too cluttered. Shadow of Intent expertly surpasses this obstacle with their superb knowledge of songwriting and mastery of their instruments.
One of the more impressive parts of the album is the performance by lead vocalist Ben Duerr. Duerr's powerful vocals demand your attention at all times as he showcases his astonishing range. From the brutal gutteral lows of "The Catacombs," to his high-pitched rasp towards the end of "The Horror Within," Duerr is an absolute force behind the microphone. No other track showcases his talent quite like "The Heretic Prevails." Then entire track is centered around Duerr's vocals. As a result, it is one of the best and most exciting tracks on the album.
The rest of the band also give unbelievable performances. Drummer Matt Kohanowski's masterful blast beats often tie entire songs together. That combined with his proficiency on double bass makes for some of the most solid drumming deathcore has to offer. Guitarists Chris Wiseman and Federico Zuccarelli write some of the most varied riffs in the genre. The duo offer as much beauty as they do technicality and heaviness. "The Great Schism" is an instrumental track that shows off their beautiful solo work. Though breakdowns are used sparingly, when they are, the are absolutely crushing. The duo have the ability to take influence from all genres of metal and combine them into one coherent work that constantly keeps the listener engaged and excited to hear what comes next.
The band takes advantage of several guest spots. Most notably that of Dickie Allen, who delivers one of the most crushing vocal performances in recent memory. Alex Terrible's guest spot on "The Gathering of All" fits the song perfectly and elevates it to exciting new heights.
Shadow of Intent are a special band. There is much more to them than many modern day deathcore bands. Every person that contributed to this record is an expert in their craft, whether that be vocals, instrumentation, or sampling. The band fuses together multiple influences to create their own sound filled with unforgettable performances and emotional delivery. The use of orchestral instruments only add to all the songs and are never distracting. Shadow of Intent have perfected their sound with their second album. They have a very bright future ahead of themselves.