Vital Remains - Dechristianize
Olympic Recordings
Death Metal
9 songs (60:19)
Release year: 2003
Vital Remains, Olympic Recordings
Reviewed by Crims

Armed with a new vocalist- Glen Benton (Deicide) no less- Vital Remains is back with the Death Metal release of 2003 that I’ve been waiting for. Yes, there have been some solid releases in the European inspired field, but not many that I’ve had the pleasure of listening to from the US field yet. Combining brutal blast beats with strong guitar melodies, and very long songs, Vital Remains probably won’t appeal to everyone, but they definitely appealed to me. Let’s discuss, shall we.

With the addition of Glen Benton I’m sure a lot of you are wondering if he’s brought any of the Deicide Death Metal sound with him. The answer is: not really. Deicide is relatively basic and stripped down Death Metal, which is ok if you’re in the right type of mood for it, but they don’t have a lot of depth, especially after so many CD’s with the same concept. Vital Remains on the other hand has a lot of depth and tools at their disposal. Regardless of Deicide’s music (which I do like occasionally), Benton has one of the better Death Metal growls in the business. It’s very deep and demonic but rarely becomes unintelligible, since the lyrics can usually be understood. He also tends to use a high-pitched style, mostly to accentuate (i.e. double) the main vocal lines. Thankfully, Benton has brought over his trademark vocal technique in perfect form to Vital Remains. Musically the first thing you’ll notice is that there are a lot of blast beats. From my point of view, blast beats are ok if done at the right time, instead of all the time. Unfortunately what happens, and Hate Eternal and Krisiun are perfect examples; songs are interesting at first and then end up all meshing together into a boring mess by the end due to the constant blasting. Hate Eternal is partly saved by cool riffs (in my opinion) but I digress. The point is that Vital Remains does not fall victim to the monotone-blasting fate. The reasons for not falling victim are rather simple, but few bands seem to rectify the problem in this manner. Unlike say, Hate Eternal, the songs are long, in fact, most surpass the 6-minute mark; for fast Death Metal that is a long time. Vital Remains still remain interesting because in between the blasting there are a lot of monster head banging sections with insanely fast double bass and slowed down snare, as well as melodic guitar leads! If you’re saying to yourself, “what the hell is melody doing in a brutal satanic Death Metal band” , then rest easy, because I asked myself the same thing. But you know what, it works for Vital Remains. Those of you familiar with Vehemence have a good starting point as to the effect of melodies played over brutal music. Basically, the main riffs and drumming remain brutal, but melodic guitars (sometimes harmonized) play "evil" melodies that are very catchy and memorable. The melodic sections usually last for a good while and vocals are used during these parts. This isn’t a novelty that appears in just a couple of songs, this is a major staple of Vital Remains sound!

One could state that Vital Remains is just another Melodic Death band, however, one would be extremely incorrect, because the execution and overall sound of the melodic parts is very different than typical Gothenburg. Plus, early In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, and Gates Of Ishtar have never come close to being this brutal, and while I’m sure there are other bands like Vital Remains, this combination of shear brutality and traditional melodies is just not something you hear everyday. With the long songs, Vital Remains easily could have screwed this CD up in a large way, but the experience and skill of the band allowed them to pull it off. Yes, some riffs and blast beat sections become a little boring, but after each song is finished you’re still usually left breathless because there is enough good material in the songs that a monotonous blast beat or recycled riff isn’t a huge draw back. In comparison, if the same thing happened in a 3 to 4 minute song, it would probably ruin the track, but since we’re dealing with songs that are 7, 8, and even 9 minutes long, the faults are easier to overlook. However, since the faults are still present, I can’t ignore them completely either.

Production wise, Dechrisitanize gets the job done. It’s not the best production ever, in fact, the guitars could have been a touch louder, but the drums sound great (considering they’re obviously triggered all over the place), the bass is mildly present, and the riffs are mixed perfectly with the leads sound level wise as neither is drowned out by each other. Despite being triggered, the drumming is incredibly fast at parts, not to mention precise and both the guitars and drums have no issues with stopping on a dime after playing at a very fast tempo.

Dechrisitianize isn’t completely flawless but this almost unique combination of brutality and melody is very interesting to my ears. Obviously there have been many brutally melodic bands (Amon Amarth, Dismember, etc) over the years, but they mix both sides of the musical spectrum into an overall sound, where as Vital Remains is 100% brutal and evil Death Metal with melodic leads thrown in to abolish monotony and give the music a quality atmosphere that is further helped by Benton’s classic vocals (some songs are so evil sounding from an atmosphere stand point that they're almost brilliant). Bonus points are given for a fantastic intro (if only Power Metal bands could do an intro this useful) and for the intelligent anti-Christian and end-of-humanity lyrics (my apologies to Christians).

Killing Songs :
Dechristianize, Infidel, Devoured Elysium, Savior To None - Failure To All, Rush For Deliverance, At War With God
Crims quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by Vital Remains that we have reviewed:
Vital Remains - Let Us Pray reviewed by Goat and quoted 89 / 100
Vital Remains - Icons of Evil reviewed by Dylan and quoted 91 / 100
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