With countless young bands mining the bare-bones thrash, black, and death metal realms with little-to-no notoriety due to so much saturation (or a case of suck), it’s refreshing to hear a new group putting their bro boots on the shelf to ape something else. Italy’s Shores of Null may have inklings of “extremity” in their sound, but their harsh vocals are always second fiddle to the soaring passages, and the occasional blast-driven onslaughts only serve to elevate the dynamics and melodies. At its most basic, debut Quiescence brings a kind of Amorphis-meets-Novembers Doom, proggy-doomy-deathy-gothy style. Refined, accomplished, and classy—the sort of underground metal that you’d bring home to mom.
And there’s nothing at all wrong with that. This style, while not exactly in vogue at the moment, has legions of fans due to the bands that have carried the music over the years (nearly decades), and there is certainly room for some new acts. Shores of Null already knows exactly who they want to be, and while everyone does their jobs admirably, the success starts at the top. Quiescence is absolutely draped in great vocals, with Davide Straccion at times channeling both Paul Kuhr and Tomi Joutsen, employing harmonies and layering to great effect. The instrumental work owes quite a lot to albums like Skyforger and The Novella Reservoir, doing that catchy-but-heavy-and-still-ever-so-slightly-extreme-and-gloomy thing. Great riffs, big choruses, and towering melodies; hold the folk.
Even the less obvious influences carry a similar thread to those mentioned above. The stunning “Quiescent” oozes dark melancholy, like Swallow the Sun covering Paradise Lost. Some tracks also possess a sense of Katatonia-esque sorrow just below the surface, largely in how Straccion can emulate Jonas Renkse’s vulnerability, if not his exact vocal style (“Pain Masquerade”). The only knock is that Quiescence isn’t as loaded with addictive material as the best albums by these bands. There is no filler whatsoever, and coming up short of some bona fide classics certainly isn’t a fault, but only about half of the album really bores into the brain.
In the end, where Quiescence ranks among its predecessors will have less influence over your taste for it than the level to which you are enticed by the names above. As stated, Shores of Null is not likely to win any coolness awards from “the kids,” but many of you will like this, and quite a bit. Don’t be afraid to admit it. This is a safe place. Admitting to still counting down days to new Amorphis albums is not a knock against your cred, merely a sign of your loyalty. So give this a try. It won’t blow up your musical life, but it will sure as hell provide 45 singable, purely enjoyable minutes.