In The Wake Ov Sol by Worm Shepherd Album Review
Artist: Worm Shepherd
Album: In The Wake Ov Sol
Release Date: 4 June 2021
Genre: Blackened Deathcore
Label: Unique Leader Records
Vocals | Devin Duarte
Guitars | Brandon Cooper
Guitars | Ryan Ibarra
Guitars | Tre Purdue
Drums | Leo Worrell McClain
Blackened deathcore is not a subgenre that can easily be pulled off. While bands like Lorna Shore and The Breathing Process have pretty much set the standard for the subgenre and have actually managed to blend both black metal and deathcore into a fresh new sound that compliments both genres perfectly, there are unfortunately a lot of bands out there who carry the label. But, the only ‘blackened’ element about their music is either relying on backing synths or edgy,blasphemous, anti-religious lyrics that border on cringe or have been done to death at this point.
Enter Worm Shepherd, a young and upcoming band who have been making quite a bit of noise in the deathcore underground since their vocalist, Devin Duarte, first made his killer debut under the name Devin To Embers with the release of the song The Frozen Lake on Slam Worldwide. This band have picked up the torch from where their predecessors left off and build upon it in a fresh, new, and innovative way.
In The Wake Ov Sol is, simply put, blackened deathcore at its finest and is executed in such a way that it manages to pay homage to both genres that inspired their sound without sacrificing one genre over the other.
The first thing that a lot of people get wrong about black metal is that they think it’s all about the imagery, the corpse paint, and the lyrics. While these are all components that definitely add to the make up of black metal, the answer mainly lies in the fact that black metal is a genre heavily inspired by atmosphere and riffs. Worm Shepherd pull this off spectacularly by crafting an album in which every track consists of the most evil, eerie, and hypnotic sounding riffs, haunting synth orchestrations, melancholic acoustic moments, and poweful breakdowns that are used in a cinematic manner to add more impact to whatever story they are telling in each track.
The drumming on this album is also absolutely incredible. Leo is able to perfectly switch between traditional black metal double kicks to death metal blast beats when the occasion calls for it and each note he plays compliments the melody of each riff and the bombastic heaviness of every breakdown.
What I also love about this record is how sparingly the orchestral elements are used. There are even some tracks, like the opening track Accursed, that contain no orchestral elements at all and create a sombre and bleak mood through the use of guitars and drums only which is not something one can easily do in any genre with hi-fi production without sounding artificial.
Some tracks like Wretchedness Upon The Gates and The Crimson Moon Unwithered use the orchestral elements at the forefront and in a grand way similar to bands like Shadow Of Intent, Dimmu Borgir, or Septic flesh would use them while tracks like The Frozen Lake or Loathe choose instead to go for a more subdued approach only using them in certain passages in the form of Carach Angren styled piano melodies or Emperor inspired synth ambience.
Another thing to note about this album is that despite the heavy inspiration from Lorna Shore and Signs Of The Swarm, Worm Shepherd never strive to imitate or even copy these two bands. Everything about this record is purely in a league of its own allowing it to stand out and carve a unique identity for the band while paying respect to their peers.
The album features three guest vocalists. Namely being Alex Kohler, the original vocalist of Chelsea Grin, on Accursed, David Simonich of Signs Of The Swarm on Wretchedness Upon The Gates, and Adam Mercer of A Wake In Providence on The Crimson Moon Unwithered. All three vocalists really shine and stand out on this record and absolutely compliment not only the sound that Worm Shepherd have created, but, they all add their own dynamic to Devin Duarte’s unique brand of vocals. Devin’s vocals are simply stellar in the sense that he has quite the range without sounding like every other vocalist out there. While his mids to lows are demonically inspiring and something to behold on their own, what really makes him stand out from the pack are his highs. I have mentioned Devin’s vocals in my review of Aara’s Triade I: Eos that came out back in March of this year, but, I briefly want to touch on them again here.
Devin’s high vocals are simply incredible. From traditional black metal screams to high pitches that could rival, if not exceed that of vocalists like Dani Filth (Cradle Of Filth), Keisuke (Deviloof), and Kyo (Dir En Grey) Devin does it all and can instantly switch from roaring demon mode to shrieking, undead wraith sounds. His high vocals may be more in the front of the mix with this album, but, on the original version of the track The Frozen Lake, which he recorded under the name Devin To Embers, his highs were more in the back of the mix which proves that he would be a great guest vocalist for any black metal band to have on their record.
As for the production on this album, when I first heard Accursed last year, I initially found it to be somewhat jarring. It was a lot more raw in comparison to what I had already heard from the first two singles of Devin To Embers which were just straight up heavy in the traditional deathcore sense. However, as I continued listening to it and have had this album on repeat for a while now, it definitely manages to balance atmosphere with heaviness in the same way that bands like Behemoth or Septic flesh are able to in their respective genres. This album has a soundscape that, while definitely evil sounding, is actually quite sombre and melancholic and really adds an emotional quality to the music without coming off as cheesy or over the top.
Now I want to briefly cover the bonus track which was not on the original release of the album back in December of last year. Chasm Dweller serves as a hauntingly beautiful outro to the epic journey that makes up In The Wake Ov Sol. The orchestral elements take on less of an evil sound and more of a despondent tone that signifies the end of a story or personal journey and when accompanied by Devin’s clean vocals, they really amplify the mood and emotions contained within each note. Of course there are still plenty of harsh vocals to go around on this track, but, Devin’s cleans really stand out here and you can really tell there is a bit of influence from Phil Bozeman of Whitechapel in the style of vocals that he goes for here.
In The Wake Ov Sol is by far one of the best blackened deathcore albums I have heard in a long time and definitely sits in my top 5 within this particular subgenre. It’s delightfully epic, horrifyingly ghoulish, and cinematically sinister in its execution and I would highly recommend it to both fans of deathcore and black metal. This album builds upon everything that Lorna Shore did with their breakthrough album, Immortal, from 2020 and perfects it while creating its own identity. Worm Shepherd have a great future ahead of them if they continue down the path they are heading by proving to the naysayers that blackened deathcore is not some gimmick, but, is actually something special that is still growing and forming within the deathcore scene. Especially when it is done right.
If you are looking for something new and fresh as either a deathcore fan or a longtime black metal listener, I highly recommend giving In The Wake Ov Sol a listen. Check it out now via Uniqe Leader Records today!
Written By: Russell Gainsford
Big Cartel: https://wormshepherd.bigcartel.com/