Will Shaw is an American singer, mostly known for fronting progressive power metal band DeadRisen who released their debut last year and made quite the impression on this particular listener. A solid album but the stand out was without a doubt Mr Shaw´s pipes that made a good effort better with every syllable emerging from the young mans lips. Good band, great singer. He has done multiple metal covers that you can find on his YouTube channel which is highly recommended, by the way.

But this is him flying solo, treading the tightrope without a safety net and he isn´t playing it safe by any standards. “First and foremost it must be stated upfront: this is not a metal/hardrock album. Not even close. This is more like the aural version of a movie that is utterly bleak but still fascinating. Think a raw indie version of “Winter´s Bone” rather than some highly polished Hollywood fare.”

The first word I come to think of while listening to this exceedingly eclectic collection of songs is: cathartic. So, dear readers and potential listeners beware, this record is unique and takes some time getting used to. Some of these songs last but tens of seconds and acts more as fragments of a bigger picture than being songs in their own right.

Mostly acoustic and stripped bare, the songs rely almost solely on the singer to create momentum and tell a story and here it really works. Mr Shaw´s haunting melodies and sometimes odd use of (dis)harmonies is equally riveting and annoying. But I kinda like that he has stripped down all songs to the bare essentials, usually I´m a “More is More”-type of music fan but this is really beautiful AND ugly at the same time. Need I say that this is a required taste kind-of-album?

Best songs? I personally loves the Alice in Chains-esque “Borrow”. Short and sweet and to the point. The echoey title track impresses with some nice guitars. “Into Oblivion” let´s him rip and really show off that impressive range of his voice and last but not least I must add the severely demented shrieks that pierces through the grime and filth during “The $hine $hrine” that will probably haunt me for the rest of my days.

I´m struggling immensely with rating this. As it ranges from sometimes near unlistenable to serving us small musical triumphs and is as far removed from hardrock as bucket Strawberry Jelly is from deciding to grow legs. But I urge you to search out the record and make up your own mind about it, it is worth the effort.

Artist: Will Shaw
Title: The Pit of Dread
Rating: 7/10   
Label: Independent
Playing Time: 56 minutes
Date of release: 2020-12-23
Place of origin: US
Standout tracks: The Pit of Dread, Into Oblivion, They Said of Themselves

Chapter 1: The Pit of Dread | Will Shaw (bandcamp.com)

Chapter I: The Pit of Dread – YouTube