Sometimes it's not until push comes to shove that you find out what you're truly made of. And as New Jersey extreme metal trio Lorna Shore gear towards the release of their third full length LP Immortal: it's fair to say their backs are against the wall. The hill staring them in the face and daring them to attempt a climbing run has been thrust upon them through no fault of their own, this time last month the band were a quartet, and the departure of vocalist CJ McReery (feel free to Google if you're unaware of the circumstances) though undeniably necessary, was still a severe blow to take 6 weeks before the release of a new album.
For full transparency: it's important to mention that this interview with guitarist Adam De Micco pre-dated their former vocalist's exit, and the band have since gone on to announce that they will continue on as a band, and still release Immortal on its planned release date of 31st January 2020.
There's every chance you'd view the current circumstances surrounding Lorna Shore as a potential death nail for the band, regardless of whether or not they're happy to admit it, but don't. The band have been at the brink of disintegration before, and though the circumstances differ this time, Adam's recollection of how close he got to calling it a day for the band previously gives hope for those wondering if they'll find the desire to continue forward.
He openly recalls the moments that surrounded the release of 2013's Maleficium EP as a period where the bands foundation came closest to crumbling. "Before Maleficium came out and our drummer and guitar player left I didn't really know what to think of it, because they're the ones that ran the band, I just wrote the songs and played guitar. I didn't know how to run a band, we went back to barely existing, we couldn't play any shows until we got Austin [Archey, drums] who is our current drummer to fill in for us. But we just managed to figure it out, for some reason, somehow [laughs]"
Whether it was through sheer luck, determination, or straight up talent - Lorna Shore's continued existence was to the benefit of extreme music. The bands outright chaotic tenacity has always put them at the sharpest end of the metal spectrum, similar to bands like Morbid Angel and Napalm Death: the trio have always been a band that you have to truly be in touch with the sub sectors of metal to get a good understanding of.
Despite this, the band have often either strayed, or outright denied being a deathcore outfit, they're not interested in being tied to one certain sound. "I don't even think contextually we are a deathcore band, just because we have breakdowns and heavy moments doesn't make us a deathcore band. We're open to the idea of being whatever band we want to be, and not pigeon hole ourselves to a specific sound. The genre in itself is like a sub genre of a sub, sub, sub genre, so why would you wanna limit yourself to this really small niche? There's so much opportunity in heavy music that you can branch off to, we don't want to type cast ourselves."
Adams words are backed up by Lorna Shore's 2017 effort Flesh Coffin, an album that had as much blackened edge as it did death thrust. There was a cohesion to the bands writing process three years ago that allowed the then four piece to ark their music into somewhat unknown territory, interestingly enough: Adam explains that the writing, tracking, and producing in general process for Immortal shared very few similarities to this.
"How Flesh Coffin came about was different to how Immortal came about, the band was at a different point in time. I remember me and Tom [Barber vocalist 2010-2018] were talking about a loose script, or concept if you will. So it made it easier for us as a band to formulate what kind of songs we were writing, and what they would be about lyrically. We demo'd all the songs and nothing got changed in the studio, so everything was very concise, which was awesome, and I wish we did that for Immortal. With this record we went in very open minded. We didn't have the same thought process as we did with Flesh Coffin, it all kind of came together in the studio".
More fascinating than how Lorna Shore rode the waves (no pun intended) for several years, or how their latest studio time differed so largely from the last, is how open Adam is to, well, everything. You can't help but get a sense that his open, honest nature is what has been the real driving force that has kept the lights on at Lorna Shore HQ. He even takes a brief moment to critique his former self in regards to writing.
"For me, what I've learned especially on Immortal - is trusting myself." He quips. "Our producer was trying to cultivate me to believe in my gut, and trust my instincts, and that I AM a good player. Music to me is art, art is created with emotions and feelings, and you can't out-think emotions or feelings. When you try getting logical with the two, it works against each other, when you just lean into them and create with authenticity: that's when things work. That's why a lot of songs on Immortal work, because they're authentic and lean into my emotions as opposed to logic. Psalms  was me thinking: okay how we can logically do this? We shouldn't be doing this, or we shouldn't be doing that. I think it missed the mark because it was unauthentic.
He laughs aloud when the idea of pressure is brought into the mix. In case you weren't aware: Adam is the main songwriter for the band, and has been for several years now. If there's something you love in a Lorna Shore track - the chances are that he's to thank for it. With that though comes as much mental anguish as there does praise, over time though he's learned to compartmentalise what's worth fighting in his own head for, it's part of what makes new record Immortal such a cert for success.
Candidly, he opens with an almost lamented "yeah.... it's a lot of pressure." Then goes into the finer details: "But when I think about it [the pressure] I just kinda collapse, I don't get anything done. When I kind of get in the moment of like: okay I'm writing this riff, it allows me to see things a little bit better because I'm not focusing on all the pressure. I'm not like: am I letting the team down? If I just have that confidence in myself it makes things a lot easier where I'm not worried about the grand scope of things, you'd never get anything done in that head space."
Going forward, it's as important as ever for Lorna Shore that Adam's shoulders remain broad, and his skin thick. As the three piece stand at the precipice of the release of their most important album ever, at the most important for the band ever - you'll be pleased to know that Immortal delivers on all fronts. As horrifyingly heavy as your most haunted nightmares could have requested, but with a stiff upper lip that has allowed the band to filter in so many other heavy metal influences. It's extreme metal with a hundred fine pointed prongs hanging from it.
So here we are, the most important time in the bands history, in more ways than one, awaits them. But even if you remove the recent news stories from the picture, there's every chance the quality of Immortal will speak for itself, Adam truly believes in it. "We're been DYING to get this record out, we recorded it in February, and we were ready to get it out back then, we've been sitting on these songs for a long time. We try to fill the world with what's missing, we put out what I don't feel I'm getting from anywhere else."
When the dust eventually settles, Adam De Micco and his Lorna Shore cohorts can look back at a career that gave them more than they could have ever hoped for when they were music obsessed teens. And the core foundation of the band simply being a collection of bodies who love music remains true to this day - it aids them in their battle. And when Immortal finally drops, you'll realise they have a dangerous alliance of arsenal.