Interview – Lorna Shore’s ‘To the Hellfire’ Is the 2021 Song of the Year
Lorna Shore's "To the Hellfire" is Loudwire's 2021 Song of the Year.
We literally heard thousands and thousands of new songs this year, but when it came time to nominate this year's best track, that decision was unanimous and overwhelmingly easy — there simply was no other reasonable option beyond New Jersey's new age deathcore leaders and their breakout hit.
It hit No. 9 on Spotify's Viral 50 chart and left reaction channels absolutely buzzing about its concussive might, symphonic fury, bone-shattering breakdowns and newcomer vocalist Will Ramos' downright absurd vocal performance loaded with nightmarish high shrieks and one spotlight pig squeal that set the internet on fire.
At first, "To the Hellfire" can be a head-spinner. It's a lot to absorb, especially after enduring blow after blow as Lorna Shore's riff transitions hit harder than an ACME anvil plummeting from the sky and onto the head of some poor Looney Tunes character that is left embedded 60 feet down into the pavement. That's right — this song will bury you 10 graves deep.
So, joining us on Zoom to talk about Lorna Shore's breakout year and offering the inside scoop on "To the Hellfire" is Ramos, who could not be more excited for the future of this fast-rising deathcore unit.
Watch our video interview below or read further down the page for a full transcription of our conversation.
Lorna Shore, "To the Hellfire" Music Video
INTERVIEW — Lorna Shore's Will Ramos Talks 2021 Song of the Year, "To the Hellfire"
Lorna Shore had a breakout year with "To the Hellfire." With this symphonic element in play, there's a great new wave of deathcore that's coming in. Do you feel like deathcore is finally starting to shed that stigma that has always surrounded it?
Definitely. Once upon a time people thought of deathcore as very chaotic, very up in your face extreme music. Now, we're starting to tame it a little bit and almost give it a more digestible identity and put some structure behind everything. It's a fantastic direction for deathcore to go.
You've got new bands such as Brand of Sacrifice, which you just did a guest vocal on for the track "Lifeblood." So, Lorna Shore are definitely leading the way for this new era of deathcore that we're in, and it's great to see the evolution happening.
We're trying. We're just trying to pump out music for people to jam, so we're glad that it even got to be as big as it did — "To the Hellfire" in the first place!
When did you start catching on that this track was starting to go viral and gain a lot of buzz on the internet?
We saw people posting it everywhere — articles left and right. Everybody wanted to know what was happening with Lorna Shore in the first place, and as soon as we pumped out that song, it was instantaneous.
The song hit No. 9 on Spotify's 'Viral 50' chart. When did you become aware that you had gone viral on the Spotify charts?
That was a couple weeks later, and it kind of like blew my mind. When you put out music and you've been working on it for so long, you almost get numb to what it actually is. It's a great song, but then people kept still jamming it and then we heard the news about that. We were like, "Dude, we made it!"
In my mind, I made it.
"To the Hellfire" is so violent and percussive, which is a huge part of the appeal. What was the consensus among the band when you were writing this that you had these three songs to put out? Did you realize that this was a total monster? Or is it just one of those things that everybody has to react to for you to realize?
Oh, dude, we knew. When we recorded it, we wanted the heaviest song to drop first to punch people in the face. That was our heavy hitter — you can tell when it gets to that breakdown that everybody goes wild about. As soon as we recorded it, we knew this is the one, for sure, that we wanted to come out swinging with. If there's any song that's going smash on this EP, this is the one right here.
So, how long did it take you to construct that song start to finish? How many different iterations did it go through or did it come together quick?
Well, we were in the studio for a week, a week and a half, for these three songs. It definitely took a couple days. I'd been writing on my own time like everybody always is when they have spare time, but when it all comes together in the studio is where everything ends up changing. I put together my best reiteration and then we ended up messing with it a little bit here and there, but it was just a couple days.
Once you start overthinking everything... you start thinking, "Oh my god, I've got to put too many vocals here, maybe we should put more here..." Everything came together with this flow state where it was perfect, and I feel like you can tell when you listen to it.
Were you keeping up with the reaction channels and seeing what they were saying about it?
My drummer was just going ham, dude, watching every reaction video. I would go to his house and he was like, "Dude, have you seen this one?" And I'd be like, "No," and he'd say, "You have to watch it." I've seen Pastor Rob — so good.
Pastor Rob Reacts to Lorna Shore's "To the Hellfire"
My favorite was the reaction by The Charismatic Voice. I don't know if you're familiar with all these vocal techniques, but one that she said you used was "supra glottal." Did you know you were utilizing any of these techniques? Or are you just going for it?
I'm just going for it. I'm not gonna lie. I did an interview with her recently — very nice lady and super cool. It's clear when I was talking to her that she knows things that I have no idea what is going on. She started she was like, "Oh, do you know when you use this?" And I'm just like, "Yeah... I think I do that and that makes sense." She's so smart. Opera singers are best singers — period. It doesn't surprise me that she knows as much as she does.
Did this get you interested in learning about any of these techniques that you're using even though you didn't know it?
I figured out the techniques first and after talking to her she definitely opened my eyes to doing other things with mouth placement and all that. She's a genius.
The Charismatic Voice Reacts to Lorna Shore's "To the Hellfire"
Lorna Shore's Will Ramos — Interview with The Charismatic Voice
How many vocal takes did you do for this song in the studio?
Sometimes you go in and you nail an entire line and get it perfectly. Sometimes you get an entire section. It was such a long time ago, and I don't remember exactly and we're in the studio now, so everything just blends into like one long studio session.
What about that one breakdown at the end with the animal noises? Was that one take? Or did you do a few of those keep the best one.
It was a one-take thing when I first did it and the dudes thought that was cool and said to keep doing that. We did it and I thought I could do it a little better and then Josh said, "Nah, dude, just leave it. You did it. It's great. Just leave it the way it is."
The more that I kept trying to do it, the less good it was becoming. It's one of those things where you're overthinking it — just keep the first take.
I think back to Iron Maiden and the scream in "The Number of the Beast" where it's just that magical moment where it happens, you do it once and you spend your entire life just trying to chase that one take. How has that been replicating it live?
It's not too bad. We always open up with that song, so I start out fresh. My voice is ready to go before I go through a roller coaster of vocals that I ended up going through for 45 minutes. It comes out fine. I haven't heard any complaints yet, so I think we're in a good place.
Lorna Shore, "To the Hellfire" (Live)
That one part is so wet and disgusting. What do you do to maintain that... slobber tone, we'll call it.
I drink a lot of tea, but mostly coffee, you know? I don't even know how to describe where the sound comes from but tea helps for sure.
Are you mixing in inhales with exhales?
Oh no. All my vocals are exhales except for like the snort — there's no way to do it without inhaling. Everything else that I do is all exhales.
You also do a lot of those high shrieks and it sounds a lot like Travis Ryan from Cattle Decapitation. Was he a big influence on you?
Honestly, I haven't listened to a lot of Cattle but I've heard that from everyone. After listening to Cattle Decapitation later, I was like, "Wow, it's very clear that we both came up learning the same techniques.
Figuring out how to do my highs was all from listening to All Shall Perish. Eddie Hermida has those highs and I was like, "How the hell do you figure out how to do that?" Maybe it kind of morphed into some Cattle Decap thing, but Eddie was the guy for me, especially growing up in high school.
Those highs are punishing. If you hold them out too long and you release it, all of a sudden it feels like somebody is just like squeezing your head with a vice. Do you get that sensation sometimes?
I get that if I was pushing from the wrong place, but at the end of the day, when you do vocals, you want it to feel like very comfortable and very relaxed. If you're feeling pain in your head, it might be because you're squeezing your entire body to produce this one note. It can happen, but it's usually if I'm just not paying attention to my technique.
Other than metal vocalists, are there any animals you look up to vocally?
It's the pig, man. I'm Puerto Rican and we have pig every freaking holiday. It really resonates with me on a spiritual level.
Since you're from New Jersey, I've got to ask you... do you call it Taylor Ham or pork roll?
Pork Roll. I said it. I think my friends will fight me to the death but, it's pork roll.
We've got the North Jersey and we've got South Jersey. It is a constant debate over what is it called. Taylor Ham is the brand and pork roll is the actual [processed meat].
If you live in Jersey, it is a feud. If you call it the wrong thing, someone will definitely correct you depending on where you are, but it is never-ending. It's like how people say Q-tips and cotton swabs — what do we call it? I don't know, dude — it's pork roll.
[Editor's note: Learn more about this historic New Jersey debate over the name of the processed meat substance here.]
The one thing in this world worth being divided over, right?
Exactly! I'll take it.
Thanks to Will Ramos for the interview. Get your copy of Lorna Shore's '...And I Return to Nothingness' EP here and follow the band on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Spotify.
For more than 150 of this year's best songs, follow Loudwire's 'Best Metal Songs of 2021' playlist on Spotify.