Has Death Metal become the most crowded of the extreme genres? I ask because the last few years have been absolutely stacked with stellar releases ranging from the old guard (Morbid Angel, Obituary) to the new breed (Archspire, Artificial Brain). One must come absolutely correct to make it in the house that Chuck Schuldiner built. Skeletal Remains has the right stuff in spurts on Devouring Mortality (Dark Descent) but aren’t quite ready to run with the wolves yet.
But first, the right stuff. Metalheads of all walks of life will appreciate Chris Monroy and Adrian Obregon’s decision to survey their fretboards extensively with leads and solos on every turn in Devouring Mortality. Their leadwork is the impetus that keeps tracks like ‘Catastrophic Retribution’ and ‘Reanimating Pathogen’ moving in the righteous direction. When not constrained by pointless groove parts, drummer Johnny Valles is a machine behind the kit on ‘Internal Detestation’ and on the title track.
So far so good, right? Yes, until we return to the bane of many a young band: editorial restraint. Even at forty-five minutes, there is much here that could’ve benefitted from some trimming. I would start with completely losing album opener ‘Ripperology.’ While it has moments, it’s too bogged down with useless groove and meandering tempos. You want to start a record with a statement of intent, something that you know will part audiences like the Red Sea and make them willing crash into another in ecstasy. In this case, Skeletal Remains should’ve opened with the absolutely crunching ‘Mortal Decimation.’ ‘Lifeless Manifestation’ is another minute of musical nothing that can also be chucked into the circular file.
Some may feel that discussing vocals in death metal is pointless, but the growls and barks here quickly veer into monotone. It’s the type of thing that makes you appreciate the work of Trevor Strnad and Jake Dieffenbach.
Devouring Mortality is far from terrible, but it does speak of how crowded and talent-rich Death Metal is right now.