Review Summary: Linked to the glorious past
There's always a certain nostalgia when listening to a musician whose musical roots we relate in some way. It's as if part of our story keeps living, mirrored in someone else. That's what happens when I dive into Skeletal Remains' first releases, they take me to the late '80s, early '90s, into an era where death metal was bursting all over the world. By this time, bands like Death, Obituary, or Pestilence ruled supreme, paving the way for a multitude of new bands that would soon take over the metal scene. In the United States, the meeting point for most of these emerging forces was the mythical Morrisound Recording in Tampa, Florida, which alongside producer Scott Burns were responsible for genre classics such as Human
, Testimony of the Ancients
or Slowly We Rot
. With their debut album, Beyond the Flesh
, Skeletal Remains attempted to emulate Morrisound's sound, thus paying tribute to their heroes in both sound engineering and songwriting. Artistically, this cloning was indeed evident either in the songwriting or in Chris Monroy's vocals, which were an explosive mix of Schuldiner/Martin van Drunen/Tardy-esque growls. Although stylistically coherent with its roots, the band gradually moved away from Morrisound's sound aesthetics in the next two releases, thus gaining a greater identity. This departure was all too evident in Devouring Mortality
, which presented a more modern and technical approach without ever truly losing their link with the past.
Skeletal Remains embrace the new decade with a renewed line-up, which features the comeback of band co-founder Mike De La O, again using Dan Swanö as sound engineer. Both wise choices, as The Entombment of Chaos
not only presents a high-level production but also takes its predecessor's more up-to-date approach to the next level. The album's technical delivery is noteworthy, both in the rhythm section, which features newcomers Noah Young on bass and Charlie Koryn (Ascended Dead, Funebrarum) on drums, as in the exciting guitar solos that burst in songs such as 'Congregation of Flesh' or 'Torturous Ways to Obliteration'. The band is now more cohesive than ever, providing a set of tracks that omits any filler. 'Illusive Divinity', the Morbid Angel-esque 'Tombs of Chaos' or 'Unfurling the Casket' are among the album's highlights, with the latter featuring an interesting blend of Death/Morbid Angel/Cannibal Corpse-ish textures. The Morbid Angel-esque approach on some tracks is actually one of the album's major novelties, reaching its climax in 'Eternal Hatred', reminiscent of Trey Azagthoth & Co's doomiest moments. Chris Monroy's vocals also depart from his early Schuldiner/Martin van Drunen-ish signature, thus acquiring greater personality. The constant dynamics, which mostly swing between mid-paced and blast beat tempos, are not only thrilling but also instrumental to the album's fluidity. The Slayer-esque riff in 'Congregation of Flesh', the dynamic vocals of 'Synthetic Impulse' or the relentless, but still captivating tremolo picking in 'Unfurling the Casket', are some good examples of how different approaches can create subtle contrasts. The cover of Disincarnate's classic 'Stench of Paradise Burning' comes as a pleasant bonus that evokes the band's ubiquitous roots, honoring one of death metal's most emblematic lead guitarists.
With The Entombment of Chaos
, Skeletal Remains further deepens the up-to-date and more technical aesthetics of its predecessor, without ever losing touch either with their main influences or past. Although unoriginal, this refreshing approach turns The Entombment of Chaos
into the band's best album to date and a must-have addition for those who enjoy their death metal linked to its glorious legends.