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SKELETAL REMAINS Fragments Of The Ageless

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Sunday, March 10, 2024 @ 7:11 AM


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SKELETAL REMAINS
Fragments Of The Ageless

Century Media Records




Stephen King once famously described his writing as the "literary equivalent of a Big Mac and fries." But there is certainly something to be said for meat and potatoes. Sure, it might not make for the most interesting meal, but it can still taste pretty good and ultimately satisfy in a way that fancier fare often fails.

And people seem to dig it, almost in spite of themselves, as is certainly the case with McDonalds and perhaps less so with King's litany of horrors. Which brings us to California's SKELETAL REMAINS. The quartet serves up a heaping helping of greasy, beefy death metal to cram into your gaping pie hole with its fifth album, Fragments of the Ageless. And it will leave you feeling fat and happy, if a bit grossed out, once you're done.

There is definitely a burger-and-fries sense of familiarity here, which will keep you digging in long after you probably should have said "no mas". SKELETAN REMAINS flavors Fragments with ample splashes of OBITUARY, SUFFOCATION, MORBID ANGEL and HATE ETERNAL influence, all of which combine for an old school groovy/tech-death clamor that offers equal parts pummel and velocity and a fair dash of dexterity - the dueling leadwork of Mike De La O and frontman Chris Monroy is especially sweet. Top it off with cover art by the legendary Dan Seagrave (DISMEMBER, ENTOMBED, MORBID ANGEL, SUFFOCATION, MALEVOLENT CREATION, etc.), and bon appetit.

Perhaps fittingly, Fragments opens with "Relentless Appetite", a Dahmer-esque ditty about consuming mass quantities of meat of the human variety, to wit: "Eхtirpate / Ѕeparate / Ѕet to plate / Feast upon her breasts and liver." Yum. Not to be outdone, the band later take cannibalism into outer space in the Alive meets Gravity opus "Void Of Despair".

The "relentless" part of the above equation is certainly apropos here as well. SKELETAL REMAINS is nothing if not always intense throughout the album, easing up only for the creepy synth/piano of the Fulci/Argento soundtrack-like segue "Ceremony of Impiety", menacing doomy intro to the crushing epic "Unmerciful" and mournful shuffle of the BOLT THROWER-like instrumental closer "...Evocation (The Rebirth)".

Otherwise, Fragments offers a steady fusillade of double bass thrum, chugging/slashing riffs, crunching hooks, intermittent though rather subtle technical intricacy, the aforementioned stellar guitar leads and Conroy's gruff, burly bellow that sounds a cross of MORBID ANGEL's current and former frontmen Steve Tucker and David Vincent. The songs offer just enough variety to keep things interesting, but it can be tough distinguishing one from another, save for those mentioned just above, with the band almost always in attack mode.

The one thing that really stands out on Fragments is its clear, resonant, thunderous sound. Given the band's busy hands and feet, this very easily could have ended up a mushy dog's breakfast. But with another death metal legend, Sweden's Dan Swano, handling the mix, it is instead a veritable banquet of brutality.

Fragments packs the kind of wallop most bands of this ilk would kill for and makes the run-together nature of the material less of an issue because holy crap is it heavy. And though SKELETAL REMAINS wears its influences pretty far out on its sleeve, especially for a band that has been around as long as it has, its super-sized death metal bluster is delivered with such zeal that it's hard to resist, empty calories or no.

3.0 Out Of 5.0


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