November 9th, 2012
Release length: 32:59 / 37:14 (LP)
It comes as no surprise that Beyond the Flesh carries a bit of a raw production to it. The final product ends up sounding a bit open and hollow, benefitting the atmosphere more than being an obstacle. The guitars have a decent buzzing distortion that isn’t too deep, but still low enough to suit the dismal environment, and the bass matches the volume level, as well as depth of tone in many ways. The two work together with crisp cymbals that are a bit distant, something that can give them a washed out sound here and there even though they aren’t, as well as an echoing, somewhat emptier thud to the snares, and a rich click to the bass kick that really stands out. Vocally, Skeletal Remains shows a bit of range with an early Death Metal approach that is a slightly nasal growl common to bands like Death, though not too eccentric despite often being a little more enthusiastic.
With barely over thirty minutes of material, Skeletal Remains try to put their best foot forward with this album, and in many ways do. “Extirpated Vitality” kicks things off with a slower passage that is creepy, but has a varied introduction that never gets too heavy until the sudden jolt and build up to pounding drums and faster paced music. The production does leave a little to be desired in the end, and there doesn’t seem to be that much kick from the band members aside the vocals, but there’s no denying it’s still a heavy offering with music that shows a little complexity before crashing into a groovey foundation towards the end. This is a nice representation of the faster material, but it’s the slow, crushing “Reconstructive Surgery” that really stands out. There’s a good deal of tension that really lets the bass guitar stand out in the crawling sections. Even when things pick up for the chorus, it only seems to go to a mid-pace, and the vocals do take on more of a dirty, yet psychotic approach, even though the performance itself there doesn’t seem to change.
But, that’s not all that stands out on here. The instrumental track “Carrion Death” has a little more energy captured in the audio, and there are some catchy as hell, as well as somewhat more blunt riffs found throughout as well. It’s a shorter song that does take a bit to kick in, but it’s well worth it. The extended guitar solo is rather impressive, though really could have been longer, leaving you feeling teased more than impressed and satisfied, but it works perfectly with the environment the other chords and drums establish. And then there’s “Homicidal Pulchritude,” which is easily one of the best offerings on the album. Unlike many others, the music really has a good deal of energy from everyone in the band that you can easily pick up on. The mixture of faster material and mid-pace grooves harken back to the early days of the style, giving it a raw, chaotic vibe that makes moshing where you stand a mandate. While much of the song is just an adrenaline packed Death Metal assault, it’s as you reach the end that the group really works in the dismal atmosphere through a number of guitar solos starting at half-way in, and varying in speed. Unfortunately, the most impressive one starts when the song begins to fade out, leaving you wanting in a similar manner to “Carrion Death,” but far from in a good way.
Along with the CD and digital MP3 formats, F.D.A. Rekotz will be issuing Beyond the Flesh as a vinyl LP. This edition comes packaged in a sleek glossy gatefold jacket, and comes with the bonus Gorguts cover track, “Disincarnated.” There isn’t anything too spectacular about this track, though it does fall right in line with the sound the other eight have. Skeletal Remains do a good job of mantaining the spirit of the original, all the while making it sound like one of their own compositions. The sudden jerks between groovey and chaotic Death Metal, however, can be a bit of a problem. They end up sounding a little less fluid than you would hope, but once the shift occurs, things do start to smooth out rather quickly, making it easy to get back into once more. Aside that, the energy the last half of Beyond the Flesh had seems to be nowhere to be found, coming off a bit stagnant, but not in the sense that the band simply didn’t want to be involved in recording it.
There’s no denying the amount of influence incorporated from some of the pioneers of the early Death Metal sound that makes its way into the debut Skeletal Remains album, but what makes this such an enjoyable release is the passion the members obviously share, making it a well executed homage to the style’s roots. Beyond the Flesh packs eight solid tracks into one album, and never shows a hint of filler, though some do lack the energy that later songs seem to incorporate almost out of nowhere. Anyone who enjoys the eighties to early nineties sound of the genre will immediately eat this album up from the moment it starts, until it’s very end. Of course, if eight songs aren’t enough for you, there’s always the vinyl edition with the bonus Gorguts cover that is worth checking out, especially if you want a more accurate representation of a modern take on yesterday’s infamy. But, in the end, the format is up to you, though the choice as to whether you should experience Beyond the Flesh is not. Skeletal Remains may only have about a year and a half of growth, but given how solid their performances are here, they definitely are a group worth keeping an eye on as time goes on.
01. Extirpated Vitality – 3:19
02. Desolated Isolation – 4:20
03. Reconstructive Surgery – 4:03
04. Carrion Death – 3:55
05. Traumatic Existence – 3:56
06. Anthropophagy – 5:43
07. Homicidal Pulchritude – 4:00
08. Sub-Zero Termination – 3:43
|Standard Score: 8.5/10
Vinyl LP Score: 8.5/10