Saturday, April 28, 2007

Review: Vital Remains - “Icons Of Evil”

I had gotten the previous Vital Remains album “Dechristianize” in 2004. It was an intense album with top-speed death metal drumming, long songs between five and ten minutes long, and power metal styled melodies and harmonies between typically brutal American death metal styled riffs. The biggest downsides from that album was the sound of the snare drum being akin to a “click”, and remember we’re dealing with blast beats all the time, so snare drum gets hit A LOT. That album at times seemed to almost drown in super fast beats all the time, and many of the riffs on “Dechristianize” seemed to lack some depth, often being tremolo picked fare. Albums in the underground can do well more on intensity than great big hooks, and with Glenn Bentons Deicide fame and powerful vocals, Vital Remains quickly became one of the more popular and notable death metal bands.

Having Erik Rutan producing “Icons Of Evil” has solved one big problem right off the bat - the snare drum. Other than that, Vital Remains has improved upon the formula that worked for “Dechristianize”, by having the riffs of the rhythm guitar contain more depth and catchiness. No longer does every riff depend on being picked as fast as possible. The melodies and harmonies on top of the blasting chaos are as good as they were in the previous effort, and are spread out throughout the songs rather than being focussed in a few select areas. Vital Remains even spreads the melody out to the unexpected, yet fitting acoustic portions on “Scorned” and the Spanish flamenco guitar “Reborn... The Upheaval Of Nihility”.

Many of the songs on the first half of “Icons Of Evil” have a bit of a start/stop pattern, with slight pauses before returning to the action, which helps to break up the constant blast of drums. That being said, the drumming is still a constant beatdown that can really chip away at the listeners resolve. The other good qualities help to distract from that constant pulse.

It seems that one year after another, Glenn Benton is able to provide two albums in a row of absolute god-hating in the form of Vital Remains “Icons Of Evil”, and Deicide’s “The Stench Of Redemption”.


Vital Remains
Vital Remains At MySpace
Vital Remains At Century Media



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