Into the light

Shadow Limb re-emerges with a split-LP and a new old sound

Shadow Limb: (from left) Adam Scarborough, Chris Roberts, Mike Crew and Dan Elsen.

Shadow Limb: (from left) Adam Scarborough, Chris Roberts, Mike Crew and Dan Elsen.

Photo by Sesar Sanchez

Shadow Limb and Squalus perform Saturday, July 12, 9:30 p.m.
Cost: $7
Duffy’s Tavern
337 Main St.

Joy Division and The Cure might not be the first influences that come to mind when listening to the bands of local guitarist/vocalist Adam Scarborough, but those pioneering British goth/post-punk acts have long served as a guiding light for his musical endeavors—from the now-defunct La Fin Du Monde to current doom-metal project Shadow Limb.

“Almost everybody in the band grew up listening to The Cure, and particularly with La Fin, I thought that was an influence that came through in a strange way,” Scarborough said.

It would take some straining for the listener to hear the influence in the almost entirely instrumental former band, but in the new one, it does sneak out thanks to Scarborough’s vocals, which come across as gothy and atmospheric, counterbalancing the metal growling of co-vocalist Chris Roberts.

After nearly a decade of making heavy and intricate music in Chico, La Fin Du Monde effectively broke up in 2012, when longtime bassist Josh Kinsey moved to Austin, Texas. Shadow Limb rose from the ashes a few years later, and the changes and downtime gave the group a chance to rethink its sound. The remaining members—guitarists Roberts and Scarborough, bassist Mike Crew and drummer Dan Elsen—decided to create something more concise than La Fin Du Monde’s complex, multipart epics that often sprawled past the 10-minute mark.

“We made a conscious effort to keep things a little simpler,” Scarborough said. “With La Fin, we were really pushing alternate time signatures and the songs started getting longer and longer. We knew we wanted to do something vocally this time, so it made sense to step back a little bit. There wasn’t a lot of room for vocals with La Fin.”

Shadow Limb’s latest recording is Mass and Power, a split-LP with Jaws-themed metal band Squalus out of the Bay Area (the bulk of their lyrics are pulled directly from the book and movie). The two metal monsters also are teaming for an album release show at Duffy’s Tavern this Saturday (Jan. 12), and proceeds from the show will benefit the bands’ family and friends affected by the Camp Fire.

Though the lineup has remained pretty much the same, Scarborough says being in the band together has changed over the years. Everyone involved is a working dad now, so extensive touring is totally off the table and they work on new material only as time allows.

That doesn’t mean they’ve chilled out. Quite the opposite: Shadow Limb’s single off Mass and Power, “Lobstrosities,” delivers the band’s heaviest serving of sludge-metal yet. The loud sections can come across as aggressive, even angry, but it’s really the sound of four guys just blowing off steam.

“I feel like there’s enough stress and pressure in everyday life, it’s always nice to get loud and yell,” he said. “With little kids, it’s a tantrum. We just happen to have guitars and drums.”

Shadow Limb’s instrumentals are absolutely massive, with equal doses of technically oriented prog-rock, atmospheric textures and bottom-heavy metal. The song structures are mostly linear, with distinct sections, but the sections themselves are succinct and the songs usually clock in between five and seven minutes, which is the prog-metal equivalent of a simple pop song.

With all that said, however, Scarborough has noticed that recently the band has started falling back into its old ways. The songs Shadow Limb is recording for its forthcoming full-length (due out this summer) are getting longer, the rhythms more complex. Perhaps the band’s greatest influence of all is its former self—and Scarborough says none of the members resist it.

“We have the attitude that we want to do what feels good,” he said. “If we write a La Fin-type song with a crazy time signature, well, that’s part of who we are.”