I have been waiting for this album for a while now, Skeletal Remains had one hell of a demo (‘Desolate Isolation’) last year, and this debut album is highly anticipated. I agree whole heartedly with the PR material, fans of Death, Morgoth and Gorguts will really and truly enjoy this masterful slab of classic old school death metal. Far from jumping on the Swedeath bandwagon (it’s a classic Morrisound studio inspired sound), SR are technically pushing the boundaries of human endurance with killer riffs, a groove that knows no bounds and an overall gives an impression of pure death metal elitism (without the crap or snobbery attached).
‘Desolate Isolation’ is pure homage to ‘Evil Chuck’ (Death), this tune progresses with ripping guitar work, haunting vocals and did I mention the riffs, yeah, its classic, its intense, if you loved the early incarnation of death metal, the classic stuff, this Californian band are right on the money. Much like another band I found a while back (Disfigured Dead) these gents have an unearthly tone, they even profess originality even though this is thoroughly old school, and the artwork on the release is simply classic. Some of the guitar sweeps on ‘Reconstructive Surgery’ has an old Slayer feel, but make no mistake this is death metal. Harbouring a burning desire to play this at full volume, I took advantage of time alone and cranked this up, not that you need too. By this I mean, some albums sound better at deafening volumes, it amplifies what is a weak sound, but in SR’s case, there is no need for this. on every level, ‘Beyond the Flesh’ works and gains my listening devotion. Vocally, Chris Monroy really sounds like Asphyx’s Martin Van Drunen crossing swords with the aforementioned “evil” Chuck Schuldinder, what a combination. I love the fact that the guitar tone gains more warmth and depth when the solos start bleeding your ears dry, you may require medication you know, especially for neck muscle injuries obtained whilst taking in this sub 33 minute release.
So I guess you can gather I really like this album, I really like this band, their style of death metal is sincere and completes a musical journey that has been missing in current young bands of late relying too much on trends and extremity just for the hell of it. Death metal can be a passionate business musically, it is very intricate whilst being true to the its nature of the beast, Skeletal Remains harness a genuine talent for writing songs that go places, that have musically variety without losing their soul, and most importantly of all, the feeling you get with ‘Beyond The Flesh’ is a very rewarding one. The cynic amongst me does wonder how long it will be before a massive resurgence of this style occurs, but the fan within me also has to point out that Skeletal Remains will be very difficult to better
(9.5/10 Paul Maddison)