Shadow of Intent’s genre is always debatable. Some would argue they are symphonic deathcore, while others like myself would say blackened death metal. They emerged for the Connecticut metal scene in early 2016 with the release of their first album, Primordial. Fronted by then-vocalist of In Depths and Tides, Ben Duerr, along with Currents guitarist Chris Wiseman, they released their first album and it got an unprecedented amount of love and respect from underground metal followers around the globe. Shortly after, the two got back to work on a record that would become the much-anticipated Reclaimer. In between the release of the two records, the band picked up new members Matt Kohanowski (Ex- Dealey Plaza) on drums, Federico Zuccarelli (Ex- Construct Paradise) on second guitar, and Keith Kohlhepp (Proletariat) on bass.
Reclaimer was formally announced last month, but the band had confirmed long before that new music was coming with the release of the first single last year, “The Gathering of All,” which featured Alex Terrible from Slaughter to Prevail on vocals. The band gathered further hype from singles such as “The Horror Within,” “The Catacombs” (featuring Dickie Allen of Infant Annihilator and Jason Evans of Ingested), and “The Heretic Prevails.” The album was unleashed unto the world on April 28. Shadow of Intent has, for some reason, made a habit of starting all of their song titles with “the,” but intro track “We Descend...” breaks that trend and provides the perfect epic ambience to introduce the masterpiece of destruction that is Reclaimer. The transition from “We Descend…” to “The Return” is seamless and helps both tracks perform better. I love when an album works as one long track when you listen in order. In the year between Primordial and Reclaimer, Wiseman has perfected his clean vocals, providing some perfect melodic death metal choruses throughout the record. “The Return” is the first track to really show the mixture between Wiseman’s singing and Duerr’s screams. At this point in the album, you can already tell that this record makes Primordial (which was one of my top ten records of last year) look like child's play.
For its length, “The Horror Within” consistently makes every moment matter. The “Before my eyes the reaper returns to slay” slam shows off the absolutely crushing interplay between Kohanowski and Wiseman, which makes for multiple eargasms throughout the song. You can hear the progression since the last record. “The Catacombs” is another surprise single that was premiered by Metal Injection earlier this month, and hearing Duerr, Evans, and Allen on one track is honestly the closest thing to seeing heaven fans of metal can expect. Duerr is a fucking monster, but Allen still manages to make him sound like a virgin on prom night during the final slam, where Allen almost turns the track into an entirely different genre. “The Mad Tyrant’s Betrayal” is supposedly Duerr’s favorite track in Shadow of Intent’s short history. The guitar riffs and vocal patterns are definitely unique, standing out in front of Kohanowski’s machine-gun drumming. Wiseman’s cleans return, weaving in and out of Duerr’s screams in the mix, done by the same person who mixed Aversions Crown’s Xenocide earlier this year. This is one of the most interesting tracks that the band has ever put together, but it almost doesn’t sound like death metal at times - in fact, it’s almost soothing, as weird as that sounds. The track ends with an intro to “The Gathering of All” following the guitar riff, but the new mix and mastering almost makes it sound like a completely different song from what we heard last fall. Terrible destroys his guest spot with lyrics that offer small nods to his band's first EP, Chapters of Misery. I was afraid that it would be the weakest track on Reclaimer, but Shadow of Intent proves me wrong.
Next up is “The Heretic Prevails,” which is probably one of my favorite tracks this band has ever written. From the ear-melting solo into a breakdown towards the end to the symphonic textures and the coordination between every member of the band, it feels like it should actually be on a soundtrack for Halo (seriously), and makes a fantastic transition to the second half of Reclaimer. “The Prophet’s Beckoning” has a guest feature from Tom Barber of Lorna Shore, who themselves released another one of the year’s best deathcore albums with Flesh Coffin. This song has one of the most beautiful choruses and guitar solos I think I have ever heard in death metal, moving through sections of absolute warfare and back in an instant. It gives me goosebumps every time. Unfortunately, “The Forsaken Effigy” is one of the weakest songs on the record with an almost 90’s hip-hop and nu metal vibe in the beginning that just throw me off the entire time, making it the only skippable track for me. However, it is immediately redeemed by the instrumental track “The Great Schism” where Wiseman shows off his breathtaking ability to shred a guitar. It’s a gorgeous and melodic and gorgeous song that continues Primordial’s tradition of one instrumental per album, and is surely my second-favorite song on Reclaimer. “The Mausoleum of Liars” provides a perfectly brutal lead-in the final song, “The Tartarus Impalement,” which is a great song, but I don’t feel that it touches “The Indexing” as a closer.
Check out Shadow of Intent and watch them make waves in death metal worldwide. They broke ground with Primordial now they’re sure to break the dirt below the already destroyed path and reveal the core of the earth that they have in the palm of their hands if they keep up this amazing work. Pick up this album, they deserve your money just as much or maybe even more than any other band I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing this year so far. Reclaimer is only the second story of many more to come, these guys are going to be tyrants of the metal scene in a short period of time, they are the next wave of symphonic death metal.