There was a period between 2006 and 2009 where the deathcore scene was exploding as progressive elements started to get introduced into the sound. The genesis of the sound of many bands that are loved today was in that scene – be it The Faceless, After the Burial, Born of Osiris, Veil of Maya, Within the Ruins, Between the Buried and Me, The Contortionist – the list goes on. Not many will remember this, but in that period of time, there were a lot of micro-blogs dedicated to discovering the latest deathcore sensations. Trawling through those on a daily basis to find bands that were sometimes fresh and sometimes awful was an enlightening pastime, as it really expanded one’s horizons. As the bedroom metal scene got more polished and became mainstream, the blogs died out – people moved to YouTube and social media and did their own promotion. Enter Shadow of Intent, a progressive/technical deathcore duo. Their take on the sound manages to be fresh way past the prime of the genre, and hearkens back to the feeling of finding a new band on a random blog doing interesting things, a band that is on the verge of greatness.
Progressive deathcore can often be very clinical. Taking a genre built upon aggression and mashing it up with one based on precise songwriting, the end result is often quite calculated and restrained. Unlike its latter ancestor, it’s not often that we see deathcore rock operas. Generally, the epic flair that some bands have is lost in the combination. Shadow of Intent take the more tech-death oriented sides of deathcore and bring back big keyboards and choirs to a concept album about the Halo series, which is what makes them unique. The mix of elements the band take from all sorts of their influences makes their sound quite diverse – and they never rely on one influence too much.
The fast vocal delivery of Archspire, the staccato riffing of Within the Ruins, melodic trem picking like The Black Dahlia Murder, there’s so much riff diversity on Primordial. It’s not really possible to enumerate all that’s going on here, but the core conceit of their approach is easy enough to nail down. Melodic, technical and fast songs are enhanced by grandiose keyboards, with progressive structures that start a journey from a hard-hitting intro that ends at an overwhelming climax. Along the way, the band keep it fresh with bass interludes, solos, blast beats and much more. Even their instrumental, “The Aftermath in Jar-Krula” is compelling and exciting, which, as a 6-minute deathcore track, is definitely not the norm.
It’s actually rather surprising how adept Shadow of Intent are. They take a slew of elements and choose the parts from each that fit well with each other and also as part of a greater song structure. Perhaps the only part of their sound that doesn’t fit well is aspects of the production, but given that they’re essentially a two-man effort that’s rather forgivable. At times the production can sound rather mechanical, with faster guitar notes being completely stripped of the nuances of guitar playing. While the end result of this isn’t as bad as some other technical death metal bands that effectively strangle any human element in their sound via post-production editing, there is still some of it present here. Overall the production is rather crisp without being extremely overbearing, and all the instruments sit well with respect to each other within the aural framework.
All being said, Shadow of Intent are a shining star in an area of the sky that is getting increasingly darker. Epic, progressive and technical, Primordial is a refreshing and thoroughly enjoyable take on deathcore/death metal. These two guys are onto something, and they definitely deserve a shot to take their music to the big leagues.
Shadow of Intent’s Primordial gets…