Skeletal Remains Deliver A Level Of Death Metal That Few Meet

There is no soft introduction to ease you into Fragments Of The Ageless, the latest release by US Death Metal merchants Skeletal Remains. No, merely a crushing burst of aggression with chainsaw-level guitars pouring out riffs at machine gun-like speed. This is Relentless Appetite, the punishing opening track.

Skeletal Remains – Fragments Of The Ageless (Century Media)

Release Date: 8 March 2024

Words: Paul Hutchings

Relentless Appetite explodes out of the traps and proceeds to batter the listener around the head in an aural melee that is unforgiving from start to finish. Welcome to the latest release by one of the finest Death Metal bands around today.

2020’s The Entombment Of Chaos was rightly hailed as the Californian outfit’s most mature release in their decade-long career. Whether Fragments Of The Ageless may or may not rival its predecessor is open to debate. But what is undisputable is that Skeletal Remains continues to deliver a level of Death Metal that few meet.

Skeletal Remains - One of the finest Death Metal bands around today.
Skeletal Remains – One of the finest Death Metal bands around today.

With a revised line-up, including the arrival of Brian Rush on bass, Skeletal Remains are intrinsically linked throughout the 45-minute battery. Often scoffed at for being the basest of genres, it is clear once more that not only is that a load of rubbish, but this is a band with the highest level of technical competence. The blistering lead work on To Conquer the Devout, for example, simply slays with its intensity and fluidity.

The gruesome roars of lead man Chris Monroy remain one of the key features of this band. His gravelled tones provide a brutality that anchors each track he sings on. But it’s the sheer pulverising delivery that is the musical equivalent of a battering ram, which Skeletal Remains does so well.

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The band has a bludgeoning impact that sometimes threatens to move the speakers off the shelf, and in the live arena, it is an experience that can move internal organs.

The relentless power of Forever In Sufferance and Verminous Embodiment may not be the most groundbreaking in the genre, but there is plenty to enjoy. Bursts of clean melody break out, reminding you that underneath this band lurks some excellently fluid players.

Whilst most of the album is as subtle as a sledgehammer to the face, there is a subtle shift with the 1:31 atmospheric piece Ceremony Of Impiety, which bridges Verminous Embodiment and the massive Void Of Despair and provides that short period of breathing space needed to catch a whiff before diving headlong back into the fray.

Void Of Despair is one of the most frenetic tracks here. It leads to the masterful epic, the seven-minute brute that is Unmerciful. Another piledriving beast that takes no prisoners, it’s a track that leaves you gasping for air. Huge slabs of riffage demand your respect.

The sheer velocity of the song, with its venomous lead breaks and groove-based direction, ensures that this is a masterful track that works on every level. If this doesn’t get that head moving, then you need to get off this train and find another form of transport.

Then, we have the magnificent five-minute finale of Evocation (The Rebirth), an instrumental piece that demonstrates, as if it were needed, the musical prowess of this band. It’s an intoxicating blend that provides a vicious yet melodic conclusion to the album.

Ultimately, Fragments Of The Ageless is an album that will appeal to those who love the Old-School Death Metal that has become the Skeletal Remains soundtrack.

It’s visceral, at times carrying an intensity that is hard to comprehend, but ultimately, this is an album that is likely to stand at the very pinnacle of 2024’s Death Metal releases.

Savage, brutal, and always in your face. This is a highlight of extremity. Indulge. And marvel at a band who really are at the top of their game.

Sleeve Notes

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