The future is fun, isn't it? Sure, we have a resurgent pandemic, global climate crisis, and a rapidly decaying social fabric, but we can also record epic symphonic music from home with nothing but a few cables and apps! Shadow Of Intent has kicked off 2022 with one of the most over-the-top symphonic deathcore albums of all time. Elegy is essential listening if you were one of those kids that spent high school rotating between Dimmu Borgir and Whitechapel. With flawless production and a masterful balancing of the two styles, it's a way to great start the new year
Symphonic deathcore never seemed like an obvious matchup. One of them calls for a gritty DIY approach, while the second demands for complete LARPing insanity. Hoodies vs. Helmets, Basements vs. Castles, etc. Shadow Of Intent shred the line perfectly on Elegy, managing to get the best of both styles in the bag instead of worst, as so many others have before. They fill Elegy with blastbeat breakdowns, then put them right up alongside soaring orchestral segments. Most importantly, it never gets boring or old. Certain songs just lean further each way along the hardcore/harpsichord scale, giving us some variety over the album.
Holding it all together is Ben Duerr's voice. Duerr has become something of an underground sensation over the past few years, scoring dozens of guest spots with everyone from Aborted to Brand Of Sacrifice. It's not difficult to see why. He bounces between gut-churning lows, followed by high black metal shrieks. This performance helps tie the deathcore and symphonic styles together, meaning Elegy just wouldn't be the same without him. When Duerr combines forces with Whitechapel's Phil Bozeman on "Where Millions Come To Die," it feels like we are witnessing a passing of the torch.
"Intensified Genocide" is the closest it gets to outright deathcore on Elegy. The last third of the album is taken by the three-part "Elegy I – Adept," "II – Devise," and "III – Overcome." This is one of the most ambitious things Shadow Of Intent have ever attempted, even including 2019's "The Dreaded Mystic Abyss." Part I is two-and-a-half minutes of progressive buildup before it drops into a Fleshgod Apocalypse meets Rivers of Nihil mashup. Piano flourishes, jazzy bass interludes and finally choral voices take over as the song reaches peak epic. Then, it drops back into deathcore. "Elegy III- Overcome" culminates with one of the lowest growls of Ben Duerr's career.
Bands like Shadow Of Intent give us hope for the future. They are completely past the era of petty genre bickering and proudly wear their influence on their sleeves. Moreover, they've matured from a group of Halo-obsessed nerds into one of the most exciting bands in deathcore today. In fact, between this and Lorna Shore's upcoming LP, 2022 could be the year symphonic deathcore becomes a dominant style.