Skeletal Remains – The Entombment of Chaos Review

Old school death has bucked the dreary trend of a wretched 2020 thus far with a stellar supply of quality albums to help keep the blues away. Now the unfashionable but dependably solid Californian crew Skeletal Remains emerge from their dank and dusty crypt with their bludgeoning brand of no-frills death on latest platter of destruction, The Entombment of Chaos. Amidst the current strength of combatants in the revivalist old school death scene, the pressure to keep pace and remain a competitive force not to be fucked with ensures the challenge is intense and healthy for bands to confront. Boasting a solid track record, can Skeletal Remains reach that elusive higher plane of deathly excellence?

After yet another, all too common and unnecessary introduction piece, Skeletal Remains get down to business with the rugged double bass, barbaric vocals, and mid-paced onslaught of “Illusive Divinity,” both heaving and tank-like, reinforced with chunky, hacking riffs. Whereas predecessor Devouring Mortality exercised a slightly more refined, vaguely progressive approach, The Entombment of Chaos is a far more in-your-face and brutal affair. The viscous grooves are utterly pummeling, both headbang worthy and punishing. Although they remain heavily influenced by Morbid Angel and Pestilence, Skeletal Remains offer enough of their own character and freshness to elevate their stature beyond mere worship and derivation. This is more evident on The Entombment of Chaos, which in many ways feels like the band’s most confident, accomplished album yet.

The album’s core is riffy, mid-paced pummel, interspersed with solid rhythmic change-ups, tempo shifts, and battering blasts. Crushing and unrelenting, The Entombment of Chaos is also a measured and well paced affair, armed with its fair share of carnivorous grooves, cleaving through the dense, rugged assault. “Synthetic Impulse” is an early standout in this regard, a brutal, dynamic bruiser featuring face stomping groove parts and one of numerous eloquent and classy solos adorning the album’s otherwise ugly, uncompromising attack. “Dissectasy” brings speed and unhinged fury into the equation with excellent results, a battering ram of intensity, killer atmosphere, and yet another sublime solo. Riffs and songwriting dynamics are two of the album’s most impressive weapons, wielded with precision and brute force, underlined by a powerhouse display of chunky, polished percussion from session drummer Charlie Koryn. Other standouts include the violently groovy throes and duel axe shredding on “Torturous Ways of Obliteration” and gripping death-doom slog of “Eternal Hatred.” Again the album’s shreddy, melodic solos add sparks of electricity and inspiration into the brutal fray.

Skeletal Remains underwent another significant line-up shift prior to the album’s conception, without greatly altering the band’s sound or top notch delivery. Former guitarist Mike De La O returns to the fold and acquits himself extremely well. Meanwhile the rhythm section has been overhauled, while mainstay Chris Monroy (guitars, vocals) glues the new parts together, without missing a beat. Most of the material hits with a hearty wallop and tons of conviction, though minor bloat and a pair of unnecessary interludes mar an otherwise strong all round game. Elsewhere, Monroy’s vocals may grate on some listeners. The van Drunen effect remains evident, but his delivery lacks in variation or uniqueness, despite another solid, wholehearted performance. His vocals largely work for me however despite their shortcomings.

Ongoing line-up dramas aside, Skeletal Remains is a consistently solid death metal act, with their style rooted firmly in the turf of early ’90s death. However it’s their own personal stamp, accomplished writing, and modernized edge that ensures Skeletal Remains reside near the upper tier of modern exponents of the old school sound. Complete with a typically strong Dan Swanö mix, and albeit slightly loud master, and Dan Seagrave artwork, The Entombment of Chaos is an endearingly fresh throwback for old school death fiends to devour.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Century Media Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: September 11th, 2020

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