Live Review: Shadow of Intent - The Asylum, Birmingham
11th January 2023
Support: Enterprise Earth, Angelmaker, To The Grave
Words: Matt Noble
Photos: Rich Price (Manchester show)
Hailing from Sydney, Australia, tonight's openers are To The Grave. Downtuned into oblivion and full of great grooves, the room is impressively full for 7pm in the middle of the week - helped by a wide, sizable mosh pit - and though the pit faithful bring a powerful energy with them, most of the crowd still seem to be getting warmed up. It’s nonetheless an entertaining performance, with some great work by the frontman as he utilises gang vocals, brutal pig squeals, and an engaging, personal way of speaking to the crowd. They dedicate their last song to ex-bassist Joshua, who passed three years ago, and the crowd are encouraged to move as if it's their last chance to do. The energy certainly picks up - it's a great example of the frontman's seemingly natural ability to connect with the crowd. The ensuing wall of death virtually runs the length of the room. With elements of hardcore and melodic undercurrents to their deathcore sound, it's refreshing to see them put on an authentic live performance, without the heavy reliance upon backing tracks as many of their peers choose to. With some truly gnarly breakdowns, they win over many of the neutrals or uninitiated and earn sincere applause. It's polished, it's tight and it's fun.
Angelmaker are up next, and the twelve-legged machine (usually fourteen!) fill out a massive visual and sonic presence. The two vocalists are a good complement for the other, and synergise well, with individual vocal approaches rather than being clones of their fellow frontman. Their broad palette brings melodeath, black metal and technical death metal into an interesting, cutting-edge blend, interesting on the ear throughout. They bind it all into one with disgusting riffs, tasteful lead guitar sections and terrifying vocals. ‘Hollow Heart’ boasts a killer groove and effective control of tempo for maximum punch - it’s apocalyptically slow by the end. ‘Radiance in the Light of a Dying Sun’ is another great set number. The crowd is more reactive and energetic as a whole this time around, and the attention to detail and consideration within their songwriting arguably makes them the best band of the night. And it’s not bad at all for just their second UK show that such a loud proportion of the crowd are able to shout along lyric-for-lyric for the gang vocal intro of the closing ‘Leech’. A seriously impressive performance, I could not recommend this band more to deathcore fans, whether you’re a serious enthusiast or an interested casual.
Enterprise Earth take to the stage not long after. It’s my second time seeing them in just under a year, following their support slot for Fit For An Autopsy, and they seem to be thoroughly enjoying their ascendancy at the moment. A couple of new songs are brought out towards the end, suggesting an exciting, brutal and innovative new chapter for the band. With interesting drum patterns, huge vocal harmonies and mindblowing guitar work from Gabe Mangold, you get the impression that they’ll go far. Their more familiar material shows them off well too, with techy grooves, a command of atmosphere and sub-bass drops which alone rouse large cheers from the audience. Although the unaccompanied screamed vocals sound a little weak in the mix - perhaps because of the strong presence of their backing track - Enterprise Earth sound well-oiled and professional. The vocals are varied, from blistering gutturals to powerful clean harmonies, and guitarist Mangold is incredibly versatile, competent at thrashy shredding, melodic licks and atonal passages - sometimes all within the same guitar solo - on his super-low, extended range axe. Their approach to songwriting is expansive and rich with musicality and it’s surprising to learn that half of the band tonight have only joined since Covid. Ones to keep tabs on, for sure.
Tonight’s main attraction, Shadow of Intent, are a confident force as they arrive on stage to huge cheers. Launching into the shred-, blast- and double bass-heavy ‘Farewell’, they show that they’re not here to mess around… they’re one of the best in the dramatic, symphonic deathcore style and tonight is testament to all that they do. An eerie intro then leads into ‘Saurian King’, causing the the sub-bass rattle around in your chest. They’re heavily reliant on the backing track, though it does provide a really cool orchestrated atmosphere and its strong presence never really feels unnecessary or distracting. The drums are very, very tight and a potent, professional lead vocal performance holds everything together at the front. ‘The Heretic Prevails’, one of their biggest and best-known songs, causes a huge reaction to reverberate across the whole crowd before the successive ‘Of Fury’ seems to really wow the audience with its strong melodic undercurrent and its classic feel.
It’s really quite a rich style of deathcore, with crowd-friendly hooks, Slaughter of the Soul-esque riffing and blackened leads making them stand out from the deathcore masses, before we even talk about their symphonic underpinnings. The monolithic grooves are designed for stages even bigger than this. ‘Blood in the Sands of Time’ is chunky and does well, and ‘Melancholy’ rouses a huge shout-along, prompting the crowd not to let them leave without an encore. ‘Malediction’ finally closes the night, epic in every sense of the word, and a huge wall of death sees out the night. I hadn’t been overly familiar with Shadow of Intent before the show, barring their most well-known songs, but I left seriously impressed by the sheer musicality and showmanship that they brought tonight. They look and sound like a band, and the symphonic style reminds me of Fleshgod Apocalypse, though they don’t exactly come across as a carbon copy of them. Most importantly, they bring the noise and are complete entertainers in the room tonight.