Vital Remains
Forever Underground



by JohnnyGetYerKnife USER (19 Reviews)
November 26th, 2009 | 14 replies

Release Date: 1997 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Forever Underground shows a band at the top of their game...

Long before Glen Benton became one of the most recognized icons of brutal death metal, Vital Remains proved to be the exact definition of an underground death metal band when they were shadowed by Florida's sudden metal uprising in the 1990's, which lead to Florida being referred to as the 'Capital Of Death Metal.' The band in question were largely overlooked before Glen Benton of Deicide joined them, which is annoying for any band. Forever Underground is one of only a handful of death metal albums that screams purely of brutality, that feels epic, dynamic, exciting, atmospheric and extremely catchy all at the same time. The simple answer to that question is, Forever Underground. Each track seems to be a journey of audio violence with variety being the key point, although the tracks remain lengthy. A mixture of keyboards and acoustic guitars are used to keep the listener interested, and just makes this album sound so much better live.

Forever Underground is one of the only Vital Remains album that goes back to its roots; old school death metal approach as expected, but with longer songs, keyboards, complex riffs and solos that focus more on style than on technicality. Tony Lazaro’s guitar playing shows an instrumental peak in both his creativity and talent levels, mainly due to his voluminous licks exploiting scorching speed, pulverizing mid-paced sections, and stellar tempo changes. Dave Suzuki's debut part in Vital Remains shows the multi-talented musician destroying his kit whilst avoiding the stereotypical blast beats as much as possible. Battle Ground is the only track that contains a fair amount of blast beating, but, it's fair in quantity, he doesn't overdo it like he did on the band's most recent releases, which ended up turning so many fans away. Also, his shredding influence is felt entirely, especially when experiencing those memorable leads that almost feel well-known in an atmosphere similar to Dechristianize or Icons Of Evil.

Vital Remains are only one of the many bands that have suffered lineup change after lineup change, so, they stuck Joe Lewis at both the microphone and the bass guitar, a position that would later be filled by Glen Benton. Lewis shows off his growling skills, balancing growls with every other form of vocal styles. His voice suits the riffs, courtesy of Lazaro, and Suzuki's outrageous drumming, which seems surprising considering his original place. All these instruments fit together so well that it sounds like a band being reborn, yet it's clear that everything has been upgraded. Matured and redefined, Forever Underground comes off as some miners whom finally found perfect diamonds after years of digging over their specific foundation; it’s got the best riffs, percussion, bass lines, vocals, and general song schemes than anything else on Vital Remains’ original full-length collections.

As for the album's production compared to the previous release, 1995's Into Cold Darkness, there hasn't been a single piece of digital improvement. A certain rawness still reigns supreme on all instrumental levels. When placing this disc in the presence of your ears, you’ll be quickly consumed by rough guitars squished against chunky bass lines; it just has such a dirty background, and that’s how death metal, especially this form, is supposed to be. But of course, the finest contribution resulting from keeping rareness intact is Dave Suzuki’s wild percussion, which honestly couldn’t sound more fitting on Forever Underground and its murky production. His snare drum's volume changes between crushing snaps and tiny pops. His toms also appear to be undercooked as well.

It's annoying that such an excellent album is overlooked after Dechristianize gave Vital Remains a doorway to mainstream success. Forever Underground is one album that defines what underground death metal is about in forty minutes of madness. An excellent album overall, and, it truly is, and shall always remain, forever underground.

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user ratings (93)

Comments:Add a Comment 
November 26th 2009


been meaning to check these guys out, i've heard dechristianize is their best?

November 26th 2009


Album Rating: 4.5

been meaning to check these guys out, i've heard dechristianize is their best?

Depends who you are. If you prefer 80's/90's metal with raw production, then this is for you. If you're a fan of newer, 'cleaner' production, then Dechritianize/Icons Of Evil is for you, although Dechristianize is better than Icons imo.

November 26th 2009


being overly anti christian is soooooooo cool.

November 26th 2009


I Am God shreds, haven't heard the rest of this, definitely going to check it out now.

November 26th 2009


good review. dechristianize is their best imo

November 27th 2009


Album Rating: 4.5

The first VR album I heard was Icons Of Evil but I just shrugged it as another death metal band trying too hard. That inspired me to check out some of their earlier stuff.

September 15th 2011


Album Rating: 4.5

This is a great tech, death album 4/5, great guitar musicianship.

but i definitely prefer Dechristianize 5/5.

January 7th 2012


Album Rating: 4.0

Dave Suzuki is amazing

February 21st 2012


Album Rating: 4.5

Kicks Ass ! Their Best!

September 7th 2013


Album Rating: 4.5

I am God!! is a sick piece.

All the album is really good.

February 18th 2014


great review gonna check this one

July 18th 2016


Album Rating: 4.0

Rise up / gather up

November 15th 2016


Album Rating: 4.0

Sharpen the swords

November 6th 2017


Album Rating: 4.0

I gotta get the rest of this band's stuff hard. This and Dechristianize both slay so hard.

I jammed Icons of Evil years ago but don't remember anything about it.

Digging: Macabre Omen - Gods Of War - At War

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