Haunted Shores - Viscera
Spinefarm Records
Progressive Death Metal
7 songs (27' 46")
Release year: 2015
Spinefarm Records
Reviewed by Andy

I didn't expect to write a review of Haunted Shores' new EP, Viscera this week, but I really can't resist this one. A neat little package of beautifully progressive death metal with a few other genre styles hinted at for good measure, it had me headbanging by the second or third song in.

Haunted Shores is a little project by Periphery guitarist Mark Holcomb from before his Periphery days, and the first few songs show that he and partner Misha Mansoor have lovingly crafted Viscera to combine melodic songwriting with "djent" heaviness. The production is ridiculously good and the songs are varied; from Spire's two-minute furious guitar blowouts to the achingly beautiful riffing and solos of Harrison Fjord (my favorite song on the album), there is an assured confidence to the tracks as the pair jump between jagged-edged arpeggio melodies and longer, heavier grinds with some black-metal-style tremolo picking. There are plenty of dark lower ends to the music, but it is suffused with an equal amount of crystal-bright atmosphere to go with it.

The handmade nature of an album made by a couple of guitarists does reveal a few minor weaknesses. The drums sound good, but do seem to be programmed rather than the real thing, and some of the more atmospheric pieces take a while longer than one might wish given the short and furious blasting of the heavy portions. But these can be seen as forays into areas that aren't as much their strong suit as the guitar, bass, and sound engineering. The final track, Blast Inc., has guitar speed-riffing so fast in places that it sounds like it ought to be mechanized -- and demented-sounding sax solos to go with it played by Shining's Jørgen Munkeby, who guests on this track.

I'd enjoyed some Periphery albums before, but Viscera is a work that stands on its own and hooked me right away. Definitely a no-brainer to check out.

Bandcamp: https://hauntedshores.bandcamp.com/album/viscera-ep.

Killing Songs :
Harrison Fjord, Vectors, Blast Inc.
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