I don't know how long it took, nor why it took so long, before the new Vital Remains album, "Dechristianize", was released. It's been recorded for well over half a year, and we've known just as long that Glen "Deicide" Benton's done the vocals.

Well, as far as I am concerned, Vital Remains have yet again delivered a mixture of death and black metal that will go down into the end of the year's Top X lists of many. The guitar riffs and drums execution are frantic and played at blistering speed with the coolest of fills. Benton's vocals fit neatly with the vocal styles of earlier Vital Remains vocalists. They have no particular identifying quality, however they fit neatly with the hell-bent-for-leather intensity of the album as a whole.

Are Vital Remains, perhaps, a kind of prog death black band? I don't know, but the playing is spot-on, very tight and probably not at all easy to imitate in front of the mirror as it were. Quite a few of the tracks are hauntingly memorable, for example the lead guitar riff in the title track. Incidentally, the band have now also reckoned the acoustic guitar gimmick had played its part - after "Into Cold Darkness", "Forever Underground" and "Dawn of the Apocalypse", there is now no acoustic guitar solo amidst the true metal mayhem at all. Suzuki's drums drive the album to intense heights, though. He's the core of Vital Remains musically.

This album is mandatory listening material for the discerning death/black metal listener, with 8 fairly long-spun epics of enormous intensity that will leave you gasping for breath in the end. Hope these guys will tour Europe again.

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Written April 2003


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