'Black And Blood', the second full length from Boston brutalists Soul Remnants and follow up to 2009s 'Plague Of The Universe', is nothing short of stunning.
They manage to achieve that perfect and often elusive balance between writing songs that are interesting, dynamic and memorable whilst at the same time achieving a high level of brutal aggression to their sound, achieved by blending hints of Norwegian black Metal with technical death Metal elements and a touch of thrash for good measure.
The mix is subtle with a unique approach that is refreshing, terrifying and exhilarating.
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The band members are all highly experienced in a broad range of genres and have a lot to bring to the table, including two current members of power Metal outfit Armoury, Tom Preziosi and Chad Fisher, on guitar duties.
The blend of genres and diversity of sound melds into a well produced and well balanced aural assault and part of the delight is that you never know quite what to expect from each track, keeping you enthralled from end to end.
The reason they have gotten it so right is the clever mix of intricate riffs, slower sequences, balancing old elements with a new twist, well placed and well constructed solos, intense exacting and flawless drum work, from Colin Conway (Cannae) that is cleverly crafted to make its presence felt but never overpowering and the all so important vocals, a range of snarls and growls from Mitchell Fletcher that shift effortlessly between a rasping pit of the stomach growl which when needed manifests into a deeper bludgeoning roar, are stunningly effective.
First track, 'Chopwork II', opens like a whirlwind, fast, thrashy and with at times intense, highly technical riffs, a punchy and exciting start. Pounding drums herald spiralling riffs with a blackened edge on 'Cauldron of Blood'.
'Incinerator' is crushing and suffocating but with some sweet riff patterns with a djent edge which serves as precursor to a lovely little guitar break to the close. I love the opener on 'Symptoms Of Death', slow and heavy with dark terrifyingly deep vocals that make your hair stand on edge before the pace takes off to a breakneck speed.
The longest track 'Dead Black (Heart Of Ice) 'is a real show case of the band's ability, beginning with a reflective, melodic opening that has a symphonic element before the pace picks up taking on a blackened feel with a tranquil break midway before returning with a strong black Metal influence and a stunning guitar break.
The punchy pace returns for 'Rape Casket' which is laced with some tight technical elements; I love the sinister drop in pace midway. 'No Afterlife' is punchy and sinister with great spiralling riffs, then an interesting and almost uplifting guitar break midway, almost suggesting optimism before snatching it away from you. Nice!
The depth of the vocals on 'The Antifaith' are stunning, a haunting, deep, gargling growl that sits so well with the pounding guitars and the track is completed with an excellent high speed guitar segment to the close.
The final track 'Reanimation' builds beautifully for the final push with spiralling riffs laced with powerful drum work along with great technical elements, accompanied by gut wrenching vocals and with a sweet guitar segment towards the close, such a good end you want to listen to the albumall over again.