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Skeletal Remains - Beyond the Flesh (FDA Rekotz)

By: David E. Gehlke

[8/10] Death metal regurgitates itself moreso than any other style in metal, which in a way, is understandable. There’s only so much leverage bands have when it comes to developing their style, but the lack of Obituary knock-offs is baffling. There’s a proliferation of Cannibal Corpse and Carcass clones, yet Blistering can’t wrack its brain enough to find bands who use the ingredients spawned on genre classics Cause of Death and The End Complete. As you guessed, California’s Skeletal Remains happen to be an Obituary soundalike…and quite a reputable one at that.

At barely a year in age, Skeletal Remains portray a distinct sense of old-school wiliness on their Beyond the Flesh debut. With a production job swiped from Scott Burns’ mixing board and vocalist Chris Monroy (also of retro thrashers Fueled by Fire) doing his best John Tardy impersonation, Beyond the Flesh is a Tampa du jour, shot back through the proverbial time warp to 1992, when death metal was about to hit its creative ceiling. In essence: Beyond the Flesh is like an alternative version of The End Complete.

Nine songs here, including a cover of Gorguts’ “Disincarnated,” which is slated to appear on the LP version of the album. The riffs demonstrate a slight uptick in technicality from Obituary, which isn’t saying a whole lot considering how simpleton Trevor Peres’s riffs are. Therefore, the band lets Monroy do the dirty work, as the vocalist massacres tunes like “Reconstructive Surgery,” “Carrion Death” and “Sub-Zero Termination.” Monroy has clearly done his Tardy homework, for his pronunciation and cadence are spot-on and if one isn’t paying attention, you’ll think its Tardy doing his patented gargled word salad.

A vastly superior product in comparison to the cadre of death metal bands hung up on the aforementioned Cannibal Corpse and Carcass, Skeletal Remains figure to have the market cornered based on Beyond the Flesh’s murky, yet ultra-heavy sound. Shame that Obituary occasionally gets left out of the discussion when it comes to legendary death metal bands…one would be a fool to not rank Skeletal Remains as one of the scene’s better revisionists.

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