On October 29, hundreds of black-clad metalheads descended upon the heart of downtown Orlando, Florida.

An older woman warily watched concert attendees chattering away happily, wearing shirts celebrating bands from GOJIRA to Cattle Decapitation. The air was buzzing with excitement. Then, just after six o’clock, the doors opened, and the flood poured into The Abbey. 

The Abbey is a small venue with a capacity of 362. Although it’s right off the street in a sleepy section of the city, it preserves some of the necessary griminess of venues farther off the beaten path. Within minutes, all bands had lines for merch stretching into the center of the main lobby area. And a little after seven, the lights went out. 

Ov Sulfur took the stage to a thin but electric crowd. The light show was at its best for Ov Sulfur, and the band did not let it go to waste. Frontperson Ricky Hoover engaged with the crowd and put on a howling, stamping performance. Guitarist Chase Wilson provided the melodic vocals behind Hoover, but the real show was Leviathvn, their drummer in impeccable corpse paint, grinning like a devil and smashing the drum set like their soul depended on it. Within minutes, they opened a circle pit. While Ov Sulfur were not the tightest of the five acts, their whiplash breakdowns loosened up the crowd perfectly. As a result, the post-show crowd was denser, happier, and chattier. 

Wielding two vocalists and instruments tighter than an atomic covalent bond, Angelmaker killed their set. Their set was more performative than Ov Sulfur’s, but what Angelmaker lacked in crowd interaction, they made up for in an insane show. The pit didn’t mind Angelmaker’s distance – they created interactions of their own by opening a circle pit without prompting. 

Death metal is not the monolith of style it appears to those on the outside. For example, Lyn Jeffs: ramrod-straight, with an impeccably trimmed mustache, cocking his head to ensure the hi-hat sounds right. Ingested’s drummer was a delightful contrast to Leviathvn, Ov Sulfur’s whirling dervish. By Ingested’s second song, the crowd was at a fever pitch. Vocalist Jason Evans split the pit for the night’s first wall of death. By song three, he had the pit in the palm of his hand. Everyone crouched down at his command and jumped on the count of three to the breakdown. The floor shook. After the night’s most ferocious and all-too-brief set, Ingested bowed out. 

Aborted was the night’s dark horse for me. The crowd’s attention had begun to wander, but Aborted ripped it back within half a song. Aborted, the oldest band of the five had the privilege of stage art, two five-foot frames encasing intricate body horror of decomposing skeletons lit in bloody red light. The night’s penultimate act has almost thirty years of experience, and it showed. 

Frontperson Sven de Caluwé was the first vocalist of the night to use the whole stage. As progenitors of brutal death metal, it should be no surprise that their crowd interaction revolved around roaring at the crowd, pointing fingers, and looking pissed off as glinting sweat flew everywhere. Nevertheless, Aborted’s aggressive stage presence, lightning-fast rhythm changes, and spine-tingling solos made yours truly recant his initial ambivalence to the Belgian titans. Closing the set, de Caluwé claimed the funniest moment of the night by asking, “Y’all ready for Lorna Shore? Yes? Sucks to be you all; we’ve still got two more songs!” Jokes aside, the crowd – and I – loved Aborted. 

Lorna Shore: the band that broke the Spotify Top Ten with their monster of a song ‘To the Hellfire.’ Will Ramos, enigmatic pink-haired frontman of the world’s most prominent deathcore band, finally took the stage and welcomed the dreamers back from reality for an hour of blackened deathcore. ‘Into the Earth’ flooded red lights at ground level, which was the high point of Lorna Shore’s light show, but Lorna Shore made up for the overpowering light show with enveloping music. 

Ramos’ performance transported the whole audience, who were at their quietest since Ov Sulfur. Lorna Shore brought their best to The Abbey, and it showed: Adam De Micco’s solos were electric; Austin Archey’s herniated disc on their EU tour now served to underline Archey’s insanity and commitment to intricate drumming and the world’s fastest blast beats; new bassist Michael Yager continued to prove how invaluable their precision bass is (and drum coverage when Archey’s disc slipped); Andrew O’Connor underpinned the heavy music with his unimpeachable riffing. Twitter has seen some discourse between bandmates due to certain undergarments of a feminine kind being thrown at Ramos and Yager during performances. In a happy relationship, Yager is not thrilled; the single Ramos, on the other hand, delights in being the center of such attention. Halfway through the set, a white bra flew through the air and narrowly missed Ramos. Yager, however exasperated they may have been, did not let the bass falter for a second. 

The lyrics of the band’s latest album, Pain Remains, were written by Ramos, and it was apparent the vocalist truly believed them. Ramos sang about the Dreamer, who creates a whole world through lucid dreaming. Although he becomes the god of his dream state, he finds no meaning in an empty world. He awakes. And throughout the concert, Ramos exhorted the crowd to wake up several times, as if Ramos knew the crowd could stay in this dream in The Abbey forever. After playing all of their breakthrough 2021 EP (with some back-breaking breakdowns and incredible solos from guitarist and band leader Adam De Micco), half of Pain Remains, and the eponymous song off the fan-favorite album Immortal, Lorna Shore left the stage to thunderous applause – but almost immediately, the crowd began to chant for one more song. 

Lorna Shore obliged the dreamers with one final song – or rather, the twenty-minute, three-part epic closer to their latest album. ‘Pain Remains I: Dancing Like Flames’ brought some much-needed emotional depth to deathcore. While Aborted’s de Caluwé brought the anger, Ramos brought the desolation of love lost with a devastating dynamic performance to match. The crowd opened one final circle pit during “Pain Remains II: After All That I’ve Done, I’ll Disappear.” As “Pain Remains III: In a Sea of Fire” closed, the crowd became silent; Ramos asked everyone to turn on their phone flashlights. As three hundred sixty-two people lit up the room, Lorna Shore finished their final song in the light of breaking dawn. Wake up; the dream is over, but what a dream. 

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