California death metal band Skeletal Remains has been working their way up the ranks over the past nine years, releasing consistently strong material while touring as much as possible. Though they’ve gone through some lineup changes in recent years, the group’s commitment to old-school death metal that pulls from all the right influences without sounding too one-dimensional has remained. For their fourth full-length The Entombment of Chaos Skeletal Remains has fine tuned their ideas to their most powerful levels yet, hitting listeners with pummeling and dense instrumentation that has plenty to offer.
While they’re certainly not reinventing the genre or even their own take on it, there’s a sense of refinement to The Entombment of Chaosthat makes a significant difference. “Cosmic Chasm” starts the album off with a creepy and foreboding intro that perfectly captures that haunting and dark feel of the genre before ‘Illusive Divinity” brings in the type of dense and powerful instrumentation listeners expect. From the first time through you’ll likely find a number of different riffs that have immediate staying power, and Skeletal Remains is able to switch up the tempos and move between blasting assaults and slower grooves where the guitars lurch forward with a thick tonality. There are a lot of nods to Florida death metal around the late 80s and early 90s period, with hints of European influence as well, making The Entombment of Chaos a showpiece of what the genre sounded like in its prime wrapped in a modern sheen. Yet these guys manage to pull away just enough to avoid sounding too much like one particular band, and the quality of the riffs and solos on songs like “Unfurling the Casket” and “Synthetic Impulse” will keep you coming back for more.
Vocalist Chris Monroy has a deep growl that’s perfectly suited for Skeletal Remain’s immense sound, and with the production giving him plenty of space to stand above the instrumentals it makes the material have that much more impact. There’s just a bit of echo and a raspy tone to the performance that brings hints of Martin van Drunen (Asphyx, ex-Pestilence) and John Tardy (Obituary), which works to the band’s advantage as I’ve always found this type of vocal work to feel a bit more dynamic and horrifying than the usual one-dimensional brutal growl. Some higher shrieks are thrown into the mix on some of the songs to shake things up, but for the majority of The Entombment of Chaos Monroy is given ample time to shine and he makes the most of it.
When it comes to old-school death metal, Necrot’s latest slightly edges this one out but Skeletal Remains is not that far behind and both bands deserve spots in your collection. These guys have built up a solid foundation across their previous releases but with The Entombment of Chaos they’re starting to write some songs that stand out and have the powerful, room filling production values to match. Time will tell if they’re capable of a modern classic, but they’re leagues better than the hordes of other groups simply copying their favorite 90s album and that goes a long way. The Entombment of Chaos is available from Century Media Records.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to share it with others to help us grow. You can also like and follow us on the social media of your choice with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and support us on Patreon.