Black and Blood, the sophomore album from Boston death metal juggernaut Soul Remnants, caught me off guard and wound up being one of the surprise packet death metal albums of 2013, standing out with a potent blend of dynamic song-writing, penetrating hooks, and endearing old school death mindset, wrapped in an unmistakably modern sensibility. Alive and kicking since forming in 2003, the experienced band return with another taut batch of high energy, no-bullshit death metal, continuing along the solid pathway established over their first two LP’s. Despite their obvious affection for the meat and potatoes roots of old school American death, Soul Remnants craft a distinctive sound that weaves elements of thrash, melodic death and the occasional blackened and proggy moment into their tough, groove-laden death assault. Third opus Ouroboros comes complete with the kind of dynamic change-ups, versatile guitar work, and razor sharp hooks that helped make Black and Blood so appealing, succeeding as a solid if slightly less impressive follow-up.

Ouroboros hits the ground running and largely maintains momentum across its tight 37 minute run-time. Opener “Mechanical Synapse Modulations” blasts and thrashes with urgency, bolstered by the band’s trademark infectious energy, tight musicianship, and killer old school soloing, beginning the album in a suitably vicious and efficient manner. Skillfully blending technicality with more straightforward chugging bludgeons, I admire the exuberance Soul Remnants consistently apply to their craft. And what they may lack in originality they compensate through intelligent structures and entertaining song-writing, not to mention their penchant for neck-wrecking grooves and tasteful solos. There’s a playfulness and jam-like quality that occasionally infiltrates the musicianship, nicely offsetting the music’s more serious tone. This element is perhaps best illustrated on the engaging prog-death instrumental “Walled City,” a fine showcase from both an instrumental and song-writing perspective, featuring some catchy and beguiling moments.

“Depravity’s Lock” sets off a ’90s Floridian death via Stockholm vibe, pushing the right buttons with its rugged and sinister tone as it trundles forth with some Domination-era Morbid Angel mid-paced batterings, careening towards a thrashy climax. There’s a pleasant accessibility permeating the album, but that’s not suggesting the band can’t get moderately brutal, as everything about their delivery is dripping with genuine aggression, with heavier blasts and frantic explosions peppering the groovier material. Meanwhile, the numerous soulful leads and gripping solos lend the album a strong melodic counterpoint. The ambitious, faintly blackened edge to “Dissolving into Obscurity” features some of the album’s most gripping material, despite being a touch overcooked at seven minutes long. While the stripped back acoustic strums and electrified shredding of shortish instrumental “Decomposition” feels a little unnecessary towards the album’s back-end. Thankfully, Soul Remnants close out Ouroboros in style via scorching closer “False Kingdom of Prophecy,” a bloodthirsty and potent mix of melodic death, pounding groove, and blasty goodness.

Ouroboros may struggle to reach the heights of its immediate predecessor, however, it is by no means a disappointment. Solid and consistent are probably the most obvious yet fitting adjectives to describe Ouroboros, an album that provides substantial entertainment value from front to back. Once again the creative drumming of Colin Conway impresses, while the stellar guitar dueling of Tom Preziosi and Chad Fisher lends the album ample oomph and pizazz. Variety is the name of the axe game here, ensuring the album doesn’t constantly retread its ideas or become stale or monotonous, with complex passages giving way to insidious melodies, thrashy riffs, and hefty grooves. A touch more organic warmth and dynamics would have been welcome, otherwise the production is clean and punchy, and the mix well balanced, including the prominent and impressive bass work of Ryan Murphy, cushioning the guitars and drums nicely.

Perhaps the biggest drawback is that Ouroboros can’t quite match the impact of Black and Blood. However it remains a consistently solid and occasionally very good outing with a fun appeal and plenty of agreeable hooks which will likely find me returning to Ouroboros from time to time. Soul Remnants punch well above their modest profile, continuing to prove with Ouroboros that they remain one of American death metal’s most undervalued acts and best kept secrets in the underground.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: eOne Music
Websites: soulremnants.bandcamp.com  | facebook.com/SoulRemnants
Releases Worldwide: July 21st, 2017

 

 

 

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  • Brutalist_Receptacle
    • Necrocustard

      I like this concept of half submerged gators listening to death metal whilst they wait to snaffle some lunch

  • Drew Music

    This reminds me, anyone who’s never heard Emanations by Ouroboros is seriously missing out. Glorious blackened death from Australia, they’re the child Dimmu and Behemoth never had but always wanted, that album took months to leave my headphones and I recommend it to anyone who’s into death metal at all.

    • The Akerstache

      Shit, that’s good.

      • Drew Music

        One of the only things I liked about Instagram, when I had it, was the number of random bands it allowed me to discover. These guys are one of them, they don’t seem to have too much exposure and frankly that’s criminal.

        • The Akerstache

          Instagram isn’t even worth it in all honesty, the amount of shit you have to wade through to get anything halfway decent is ridiculous.

          I just use NCS and Heavy Blog is Heavy for all my other music needs (if AMG ain’t delivering), hell, NCS has introduced me to some of my favorite music this year, including Ezerath, who are currently hold my AotY.

          • Drew Music

            I’m with you there, it’s these guys, NCS, HBiH, the news, Bandcamp and pretty much nothing else for me on the internet these days. Well, nothing else I can discuss without horrifying anyone, I suppose, but you get the gist. The internet in general is speeding along the dumbing down of society with such blatant ease, I do what I can to avoid it. And society. I like black metal and cats, people not so much.

          • AjmsaenZ

            Yeah i know right! NCS, for sure, i mean, who doesn’t use NCS… my friend doesn’t know what NCS is, the silly goose, what.. mm.. what should I tell him NCS means? For my friend.. yeah..

          • The Akerstache

            Other than Reddit and the occasional movie reviewer on youtube, it’s the same for me (and a couple non-disclosable websites for… other needs).

            It’s just a lot better to spend my time with something, that despite draining my money, makes life that much more enjoyable, and metal is that for me. Better than spending it around the fake lives portrayed by social media at least.

            And people say metal is self-destructive…

          • Drew Music

            My thoughts exactly. Metal has been there to right every wrong that’s found me along the way, and this site has lead introduced me to more of that cathartic audio goodness than any other. I recommend the antisaints of AMG to as many people as I can, they’re doing Dio’s work and, Jørn willing, I hope they never stop.

          • Drew Music

            And Ezerath are definitely worthy, this year is loaded with killer stuff. My AotY shortlist keeps alternating, I think ANCST and Dodecahedron have been the only constants, and I don’t even wanna think about a top ten at the moment.

          • The Akerstache

            I have a fairly steady shortlist, with Bereft and Black Sites holding the top two spots for a long time, until Ezerath came along, but I still haven’t had time to fully digest a ton of shit, due in part to how busy I was over the summer, due also to discovering Deathspell Omega and Akercocke and not wanting to listen to anything else.

            I fully expect Selbst, Dodecahedron, and Elder to all make it on that list very soon, plus I have stupid high hopes for the new Planet Eater album based solely on how good the single is.

            God this year has been great.

    • Leonmed

      Ouroboros yes! I find Emanations to be top quality! Theirs Glorification of a Myth from 2011. which was straightforward thrash was also great. I preferred it to stuff like Vader..

  • Excentric_13073

    I’d tap this.

  • Name’s Dalton

    What’s up with that dude on the right’s forehead?

    • brutal_sushi

      Its a hair net… He just got out of work at his upscale food truck.

      • Drew Music

        #BlackenedLunchMetal

  • Drew Music

    I didn’t even realize that they had an album prior to Emanations, I’ll have to look into that to see for myself. Personally, I felt that the symphonic/keyboard elements on it were perfectly balanced, like Dimmu if they ever showed restraint.

  • lennymccall

    Just heard Black and Blood for the first time today. Holy Shitballs it’s good and now I’m super stoked to hear Ouroboros asap! Thanks for the heads up!

  • ElephantsMarching

    Yesssssssss. I like this! Lots of groove, and just enough punishment without being overkill. Pretty good mix, too. I can even hear the bass.