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.
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.