Vital Remains - Let Us Pray
Deaf Records
Death Metal
8 songs (50:45)
Release year: 1992
Vital Remains
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Still one of the most consistent and pummelling Death Metal bands today, American Satanist merchants Vital Remains’ early albums are often overlooked. Whilst the likes of Dechristianize and Icons Of Evil are excellent releases, the band’s debut Let Us Pray is just as good, taking the Morbid Angel template and twisting it into their own dementedly epic direction. Whether it’s the Doom-ridden wade through oceans of blood that is Of Pure Unholiness or the tribal rhythms (yes, you read that correctly) that open Ceremony Of The Seventh Circle, everything about Let Us Pray screams of the intelligence behind what is, after all, a pretty brutal slice of Death Metal. This is long before Deicide’s Glen Benton got involved with the band, and the vocalist here Jeff Grusling does a great job, a deeper, more malevolently evil David Vincent.

Although not as obviously epic as on later albums, Vital Remains are still pushing in that direction here. Opening blast War In Paradise has blasts of keyboards, Uncultivated Grave is almost serpentine in its slithering atmosphere before the ending brutal crunch, and the melodic flourish that opens Malevolent Invocation is a harbinger of things to come. Apart from the drums being mixed slightly too high, this is a pretty perfect production for old-school Death Metal; the bass is even audible here and there (getting a nice little moment at the start of Isolated Magick) and the guitars crunch nicely. Most of the songs present are excellent, starting with the cold majesty of War In Paradise and barely letting up for all fifty-plus minutes; picking highlights is too damn hard to even attempt, as with an average length of over six minutes the songs all are lengthy enough to go in a variety of directions. Fear not, all have killer riffs and there’s no filler.

If Let Us Pray has a problem, it’s that there’s a little too much influence from Morbid Angel. Most of the songs can be summed up as them plus Deicide, and whilst that’s a pretty darned cool combination it can get dull if you’re not 100% digging it. That’s not to say that this is in any way, shape or form a bad album; just that you have to know what you’re getting before you go in. I can imagine a few fans of the band’s later path finding this rather boring after expecting more of the cinematic brutality of their Benton-guided years. Of course, there are plenty of moments to help convince them otherwise, not least the catchy riffing of Ceremony Of The Seventh Circle, and really any true Death Metal fanatic should be converted by the atmosphere of the likes of Uncultivated Grave, dark, suffocating and ominous. If you are a fan of the older school of Death Metal, then Let Us Pray is the perfect call to arms, a white-knuckle ride that looks down with disdain on the modern clones that fill the scene, as well as the opening shot to the career of a band that rarely gets the kudos it deserves.

Killing Songs :
War In Paradise, Ceremony Of The Seventh Circle, Uncultivated Grave, Isolated Magick
Goat quoted 89 / 100
Other albums by Vital Remains that we have reviewed:
Vital Remains - Icons of Evil reviewed by Dylan and quoted 91 / 100
Vital Remains - Dechristianize reviewed by Crims and quoted 88 / 100
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