VERSUS: Pain Remains vs. Kostolom
Welcome to another edition of Versus. The series where we look at two albums in metal, comparing them to each other, and see which one was the better record.
In this edition of Versus, we are putting two of deathcore's biggest stars against each other. Both bands released albums that help change and break the stereotype of the deathcore genre. From symphonic elements, nu-metal guitar tones and riffs, to ungodly sounding guttural vocal deliveries. Let's see which band stands at the top of the deathcore mountain in this battle I'm calling "World War Deathcore".
In this corner, we have Lorna Shore with their fourth album, 2022's Pain Remains. The band's first studio album with new vocalist Will Ramos, who made his debut with the band on the 2021 EP ...and I Return To Nothingness. The band would skyrocket to YouTube fame with reaction video's to the music video "To The Hellfire" and the song's closing breakdown. Pain Remains went even grander with its symphonic elements musically, receiving critical acclaim from fans and critics, launching the band into popularity. Let's take a look at this record and see what it brings to this matchup.
The album opens with the almost theatrical "Welcome Back, O' Sleeping Dreamer". With opening choir, thundering drums and strings, the song builds and builds, until the band kicks the door in with Ramos' gutturals leading the charge, accented by strings during the blast beats and growls. With a disgustingly heavy opening breakdown into Ramos' yell of "wake up!", we are setting the stage strong. With a low and slow opening into the verses, the vocals are insanely low and ogre-esque. Drummer Austin Archey shines on the track, jumping all over the place on the kit. From short blast beats, insanely fast double bass, to intricate drum playing over the chugging guitars by Adam De Micco and Andrew O'Connor. Ramos is almost unhuman in certain points with the impressive range he has from goblin shrieks, demonic lows and everything in-between. At over seven minutes, with countless instrumentation of choirs and strings, matched with the band's intricacy in the music and chugging breakdown near the closing minutes, it is one hell of an opening track for the album. Following that is "Into The Earth". Opening with a short string section into fast-paced drumming and guttural growls, the song just kicks you in the face when the band kicks in. Ramos' phlegm-inducing shrieks into the chorus is highlighted on the song. The song has peaks and valleys of choir during short breakdown sections with intricate guitar patterns and impressive drumming by Archey.
My standout track and favorite song from the album, as well as the band, is "Sun//Eater". With a child-choir sound in the build, accented by strings, the band knows how to build and get the listener ready for an epic start to a song. The band strikes hard and fast with Archey's drumming punching through the mix. With a almost melodic death metal riff, Ramos just delivers impressive vocal speed while keeping his gutturals deep and low. The chorus is so grand sounding, with strings accentuating Ramos' high shrieking vocals behind him. With blasting beats and double bass through the verse, the song hits a brick wall and slows it down for a thick, chugging breakdown as strings set tension throughout it before coming back to the chorus. An impressive guitar solo with double bass driving the song behind it, it just sounds so good before Ramos' vocals stand out as the music drops, building to one final breakdown before one final string section builds to the closing chorus. Showing the band has perfected the symphonic deathcore sound with this track.
Following that song is "Cursed To Die". With thunderous drums opening the song and chorus & reverbed laden guitars in the opening, the song continues into an almost melodic death metal sound at certain points in the verse. With flurries of strings in the background to accent the vocals or the riff. The band really shines on the track, each instrument almost getting little moments to show off throughout. With the intricate guitars, double bass, and the strings sections helping accent the band's heaviness while also building emotional drama and unease to the song. "Soulless Existence" starts with Ramos giving a goblin-esque vocal delivery, similar to Travis Ryan of Cattle Decapitation. A slower build song, even with the flurried double bass hits of the song and chugging guitars. It gives the listener a little reprieve from the fast-paced heaviness, before the song picks up and we are back up and running in the speed of the vocal delivery and drumming matching it.
"Apotheosis" starts with another great choir and strings opening into pounding double bass and building guitar backgrounds into guttural lows. The band's incorporation of black metal/death metal drumming fits the symphonic elements of the track well, along with the fast paced guitar playing along with it, making the band's unique sound. Songs like these are so grand, with layer upon layer of vocals, strings, choir and ambience. Giving off such a movie-score theme to this song and many songs on the album. The following track "Wrath" has the same eerie, unease feeling build into goblin-shrieking vocals. The building strings behind the band, going full-speed, with the riff and drumming, just adds such a trademark sound for the band. The song is just relentless into a slowed down breakdown near the halfway mark, with Ramos' gutturals, to short pig squeal, back to gutturals in one breath is impressive.
The album closes with the "Pain Remains" trilogy the band has called it. A story of moments and emotions like heartbreak, loss, grief, nihilism, and anguish. "Pain Remains I: Dancing Like Flames" starts with an ambient, synth like atmospheric opening. Giving the listener an almost 80's uplifting vibe to the song. Before the building, chugging guitar kicks in with building drum hits and vocals dashes those positive vibes away and turns into vigorous and driving headbanging double bass. There is also an emotional and beautiful sounding guitar solo near the end of the track. "Pain Remains II: After All I've Done, I'll Disappear" continues the theatrical grandeur and intensity in the performance. With epic strings over the chorus and relentless double bass and emotional guitar playing accented by the strings, the songs drips emotion in the music. With the closing "Pain Remains III: In A Sea of Fire", the opening string sections, choir vocals and has booming 808 drums behind it. Psyching the listener up for a dramatic conclusion of the trilogy. The song holds nothing back in the speed and aggression, with strings trying to show emotion during the guttural lows and unyielding drumming. The band just delivers an epic trilogy of symphonic blackened deathcore and closes this album out on an emotional and musical journey with the ending trilogy.
Their opponents, Russia's masked menace Slaughter To Prevail with their second album, 2021 Kostolom. The follow up to the bands 2017 debut Misery Sermon, the band began to incorporate more elements of nu-metal into this album, almost spawning the spin off genre of nu-deathcore with this release. The lead single "Demolisher" created a huge amount of buzz for the band, along with the sickening breakdown at the end of the song, and the band's iconic masked imagery. With the intensity and deep gutturals from front man Alex Terrible, and chugging breakdowns throughout, this record pushed the band to popularity, becoming one of the new faces of deathcore. So let's see what these pissed-off Russians bring to this matchup with their second album.
Opening the album is "Bonebreaker". With a gritty and grimey sounding guitar riff into Terrible's guttural and aggressive vocals over blasting drums and a chugging riff, the song goes for the throat in the opening track. With elements of nu-metal showing in some of the verses and vocals jumping from demented clean/whispers to screaming highs, the vocals are chaotic and demented in the delivery with the building guitars. It is a riff-machine track. The closing breakdown is so heavy, especially at the end with the double bass and cymbal strikes from drummer Evgeny Novikov. The song is one hell of an opening track and shows these masked maniacs are just getting started.
And one hell of a follow up track is with the next song "Demolisher". A song that introduced a lot of people to the band, including myself. Opening with another relentless blast beat section from Novikov, the band sounds even more pissed-off then the previous song. Aggression is on full-force with Terrible's vocals, sounding demonic in his vocal performance, accented by the vocal layering in the production, adding more sickening sound to his already impressive vocals. Robert Brown's guitars on the album is impressive with knowing how to build great riffs. At the halfway mark, the song has tremolo and blast beats, almost giving a black metal feel to the track with such deep guttural vocals. Then, the breakdown build begins. With Terrible's demented, Russian-spoken vocals, demonic in nature into the screaming of the title track. Then the super slowed down riff with Novikov's drums ringing in the ether, as the pace slowly picks up to the song's closing moments.
And ANOTHER strong follow up track is the song "Baby Yaga". Starting with Terrible's guttural, layered and potentially pitch-shifted vocals, it sets the stage for a sickening build when the band joins in. With another thunderous blast beats opening drum section on the verse, the band again is just relentless with starting the songs off angry and fast. Double bass and a chugging riff sounds so good as it transitions to a more slowed down riff with flurries of double bass behind it. The chorus shows more of the nu-metal influence with Terrible showing elements of clean singing in the midst of his screams and almost unhuman growl vocals. At the halfway mark, we slow and return to a demonic vocal layered delivery as the drums hit, and we get another sick breakdown. Closing with a more mid-tempo, almost upbeat sounding guitar section, with building and thunderous drum hits, the returning nu-metal influence closes out the track. Brown's guitars and Mikhail Petrov's bass add more to the riff and adding that heaviness in the chugging that deathcore is known for.
"Made in Russia" starts with another great building drum section under Terrible's Russian lyrics into an almost hardcore sounding guitar riff and simple drum sections into double bass at certain points. Vocals are almost the ramblings of a madman as the song matches intensity, while at times almost veering into the groove metal genre with the guitars on the chorus. With "Zavali Ebalo", the song starts with impressive drumming again by Novikov, matched with Terrible's vocal juggling of growls, screams, shouting and whispering in short bursts throughout. "Agony" is another heavy track with drums shining and building tension and intensity, matching the vocals and the heaviness and eeriness of the riff throughout the song. Songs like "Your Only" continue the opening aggression, but fuse into a clean singing chorus, adding a unique sound into the song, with the band fully embracing the nu-deathcore sound on the track. The album is just endless aggression and fury with songs like "Ouroborus" and "I Killed A Man". Leading to the album's closer "Father", showcasing the band still bringing the riff machine throughout the track. Terrible's shouting vocals are more prominent on the track in the verses, with only short bursts of his trademark gutturals. A heavy song in both chugging and groovy guitars with thunderous double bass, it brings the album to a pounding and thudding close.
After listening to both records, who wins this war of deathcore? In my opinion, the winner is Lorna Shore with Pain Remains. Including such amazing additions of strings, choirs and ambience in a perfectly done way, along with the impressive musicianship and vocal juggling throughout, the record is just top-notch and possibly the band's best record. Slaughter To Prevail's Kostolom is still a heavy record, and I do like the band fusing nu-metal into elements of some of their songs, giving the band a sound of their own. Although, I think that they are still fine-tuning this sound and I feel their next record will be the sound more defined and established. Both bands have done amazing things with reinvigorating deathcore and breaking the mold of what traditional deathcore should sound like and both bands are worth checking out to see what they are doing with the genre and where they will take it next with each release.
Lorna Shore is currently on tour as part of "The Pain Remains Tour" in North America through the fall and then into Europe with supporting acts Rivers of Nihil, Ingested and Distant. You can check the band's website for tour dates and tickets at https://lornashorestore.com/pages/tour .
Lead singer Will Ramos is also in a side project called Project: Vengeance. A deathcore supergroup, featuring multiple vocalists including Taylor Barber of Left To Suffer, Dickie Allen of Infant Annihilator, Darius Tehrani of Spite, and Tyler Shelton of Traitors. No album info, release date or label has been announced.
Slaughter To Prevail just released a new song in 2023 called "Viking" and announced a North American fall tour. If you want to check them out live, you can check tour dates get tickets at https://www.stp-tour.com/ . Vocalist Alex Terrible is currently working on a solo album and has released a song called "Doomslayer" via YouTube. No album title, release date or label has been announced.
Do you agree with my decision? Who do you think should have won this battle? Cast your vote on the poll below, leave your comments on our social media, and your suggestions who you think should step in the ring next. I’m Justin, your friendly neighborhood metalhead, for This Day in Metal and this has been Versus.