Shrines – Shrines (Review)

Shrines - Shrines (2015)
Shrines – Shrines (2015)

It’s the band’s first album but Shrines already has a lot to live up to. Vocalist and guitarist Sam Loynes is also a member of Voices who last year released London – not only the HMO Top Album of 2014 but also the best album to have happened so far this decade.

Shrines’ music is a different beast from Voices and even if their debut doesn’t quite pull itself out of London‘s shadow it shows considerable promise. Blackened tremolo guitars and deathly Morbid Angel riffing weaves seamlessly with spacey prog and Gojira-esque technicality to dreamy effect. The musicians handle the shifting flow of styles with aplomb: Daniel Blackmore’s precise drumming holds everything together while the guitars are crisp and tight. But the album is at its dreamiest with the clean, harmonised vocals of Loynes. They have a beautiful, tremulous and choral quality. While there are long instrumental passages and also gruffer vocals, it’s the clean vocal delivery on tracks like Ariadne’s Thread, The Drowned and the Saved and Broken Man that are the emotional heart of the album and the parts that resonate after listening and draw you back.

Sadly, the current economic climate meant the band could only afford one jacket
Sadly, the current economic climate meant the band could only afford one jacket

I’d have liked to have heard more of the clean vocals, but they do mix well with the growlier parts. It’s no obvious “nice bit/heavy bit” alternation; the whole album threads and winds through its various approaches subtly and magically. But the variation and my preference for the clean vocals does mean some songs are more affecting than others.

Rather like The Antichrist Imperium debut earlier in the year (also featuring Loynes), Shrines is one of the best things I’ve heard in 2015 but it’s not as startling or as fully-realised as London. But neither was Voices’ debut album. This is a strong and captivating debut and I’ll be very keen to hear what Shrines come up with next.

28 thoughts on “Shrines – Shrines (Review)”

    1. Antidote is my access point into Voices. It cauterizes the capacity/interest wound in me, for now, gives me a sample of the creators’ expressiveness. They seem to have tapped a fruitful vein in themselves from the quality output I’ve read. I’ll be interested in the threading vocal landscape of Shrines. Thanks for pointing that out. Blackmore seems like a fine and interesting drummer, imo.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s good stuff Adam. I don’t think they’re quite where they want to be yet but I look forward to them getting there. Please listen to the whole of London though! It’s one of those perfect albums front to back.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Hooray for nefarious HMO content! I remember you mentioning that London record, and now here’s another band that requires attention!

    Sadly, the video didn’t work, here. Adn I tried the Youtubes independently and it wasn’t thereeither. Maybe they heard I was looking for them…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What the hell happened? I listened to the embedded song yesterday when I first saw your post and thought it not my thing. Playing it again today just one day later and it sounds fantastic. (Just ran it through a second time to be sure and yep, big repeat thumbs up.) I need to dive in further! How representative is The Drowned and the Saved of the rest of the album?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pretty representative! It’s all quite consistent… there’s a couple of songs that go over my head a bit but it’s well worth hearing if you like that track. It had that effect on me too. I can’t really listen to anything else at the moment, this album is too addictive.


      1. Reminds me a little of the Shining – wee bit angular and (like you say) cosmic. The dude’s other band sound right interesting, too.

        Liked by 1 person

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