Goddamnit. Somehow I missed 2015’s Condemned To Misery by Skeletal Remains. The 2012 release by this California (U.S.A.) group, titled Beyond the Flesh, was excellent. So, I’ve no idea how I missed their sophomore effort. Album number three has just dropped for this quartet and things are clearly on the up and up for the group as they’ve made the leap from FDA Rekotz to Century Media Records. Whilst I need to go back and check out their second effort properly, after spending quite a bit of time with their latest long player, Devouring Mortality, there’s no doubt that this is business as usual for these guys and if you’re a fan, then you’ll be pretty chuffed with this one, too.
Before you even kick this album off, just a quick glance at the artwork by Dan Seagrave is a true nod to the old school death metal scene. Seagrave has also done covers by Morbid Angel, Nocturnus, Suffocation, Entombed, Carnage and Pestilence amongst others. The fact that he is lending his skills to a band like Skeletal Remains certainly puts to rest any concerns about what to expect here.
Skeletal Remains get down to it with haste unleashing the ominously titled opening cut, “Ripperology”. These guys don’t mess around with their meat and potatoes old school sounding death metal. Once again they are wearing their collective influences on their sleeves which results in an 11 track collection of brutal death metal that steers clear of sounding rehashed whilst at the same time delivering an air of familiarity, too. Where some can get lost in trying to be too much or too fancy or too technical, one thing that Skeletal Remains have absolutely nailed once again is the almost lost art of songs that do not overstay their welcome. We’ve seen countless releases in recent years in various genres where the simple concept of self-editing has been lost, ignored or just plain forgotten. This quartet has done a solid job of delivering songs that stay on target, and don’t linger like a stale fart. Each of the cuts here get right to the job at hand without messing around and going off on unnecessary tangents in every other direction. Devouring Mortality is absolutely on the money in the aspect.
One of the strengths of Skeletal Remains is their use of tempo changes within tracks. Whilst some death metal acts run at full throttle for the duration of an album, Skeletal Remains leverage off the dynamics that tempo changes can create in a song. I’m not referring to a single tempo change either. Check out the numerous changes throughout “Seismic Abyss”, “Grotesque Creation” and the excellent “Mortal Decimation” and you’ll see just how well these guys craft their wares.
There’s little room for confusion on Devouring Mortality. If early Morgoth, Pestilence, Morbid Angel and of course Death are high on your play list, then you absolutely cannot go past Skeletal Remains. This is no frills, straight to the point death metal done well. Their intentions are pure and their execution is on point. They have their influences boldly upon their sleeves and the result is a nostalgic sounding album that absolutely crushes.
Century Media Records/Sony Music Australia
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