VITAL REMAINS have the typical underground band situation. They started around the same time as most of the more known Death Metal bands of today (CANNIBAL CORPSE, MORBID ANGEL), yet never made the same amount of impact as those aforementioned bands due to line-up changes, lack of adequate label support, etc. Now with the only one original member remaining, they have finally gotten the attention of the entire Metal community and with good reason.
The two members of VITAL REMAINS, Tony Lazaro (the founder of the group) and multi-talented musical prodigy Dave Suzuki have also gotten the help of DEICIDE vocalist Glen Benton. With an album title like "Dechristianize", song titles like "Infidel" and "At War With God", band members confirming their beliefs in Satanism and hatred of Christianity and a lead singer with an inverted cross branded onto his head, you can have an idea of what the lyrical content of this is going to be. However, the band succeeds in making the listener terrified of the anti-religious hatred that is being spewed forth with unquestionable conviction. Sure, some of the lines just seem extremely over-done at times (from "Rush Of Deliverance", a line goes: "In Satan we trust….Satan, Satan, Satan, Satan), but the rest of the album makes you ignore it completely and take these guys' beliefs seriously. The intro also sets the mood, with Orff's "Carmina Burana", while (this is just an assumption) having sound clips from a movie (I have a hunch that it's Jesus Of Nazareth) all accusing Christ of manipulation and deceit and forcing him to prove his worth. I know that "Carmina Burana" has been over-covered, but the sound clips set up the mood for the rest of the album, all while having one of the eeriest pieces of music ever written play in the background.
Where this album truly shines, however, is in the musical and compositional department. Death Metal in itself is an art that requires quite a lot of dexterity and skill and VITAL REMAINS is no exception, but writing a Brutal Death Metal album where the average song length is over 7 minutes (I'm not counting the intro) that manages to keep your interest is quite a phenomenal achievement. I remember the first time I looked the back of the CD and saw the song lengths, the shortest being 5:44 and the longest going over 10 minutes and thinking that these guys probably bit off a lot more than they could chew, but the first listen proved me that I was wrong. The reason why this album can keep you listening throughout the whole length, then make you want more, is the beautiful arrangements that seem to entwine the most brutal and fast Death Metal guitar riffing with elegantly constructed harmony sections that are so melodic non Metal fans can enjoy them thoroughly. The album has DYNAMICS, something that has been missing from this type of music for quite a while and it can perfectly juxtapose both extremes in one song. Add Spanish guitar melodies in the last song and the contrast is just mind-blowing.
The band has a true gem in Dave Suzuki. The man wrote all the guitar leads, handled the bass duties and also played drums on this release. Although most of the album features a relentless blast beats, the subtle changes in the drumming make it so much more appealing and the speed achieved is quite impressive as well.
Quite possibly the Death Metal album of the year, one of the best albums released since the year of 2000 and the album that should elevate VITAL REMAINS to the same level of recognition as MORBID ANGEL, SUFFOCATION and NILE. (Online December 28, 2003)