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Remnants of the old school brutal death metal wars - 78%

darkfiend, August 24th, 2009

The world reknown US death metal underground was one metal scene that continued to be active throughout the entire 90's, even well after the the early 90's death metal heydays, & continued to produce many quality death metal acts. This wasn't the case with just the well established death metal meccas of Florida & the Tri-State area of the East Coast, but in fact all throughout the country. Some such underground death metal acts gained more recognition than others, & one band that gained moderate acclaim was Massachusett's Scattered Remnants. While the band never quite reached the status of bands like Disgorge or Deeds Of Flesh, since forming in 1993 they built up a respectable underground reputation via a demo, a self financed EP, & eventually got the interest of Repulse Records, who in 1998 issued the band's debut & only album, 'Destined To Fail', my first listen to the band.

I for one had read & heard some of the critical acclaim the band achieved prior to hearing them, praising them as a no-nonsense, raw, intense, barbaric, & musically very competent brutal death metal act. 'Destined To Fail' does demonstrate all the above. Just listen to 'Lamentation of Tortured Souls', which following an intro, starts the album off in a violent, intense manner & sets the pace for the remaining tracks. What you get here is pouding drum blasts, frenzied brutal riffing, & raw aggressive guttural growls. There's no mistaking the band's writing & musical skills, this is a very competent death metal unit here, who unleash song after song of intense, grinding, yet memorable death metal barrage. For the most descriptive & accurate idea of the band's sound, other bands which have been cited as comparisons or influences for Scattered Remnants include Suffocation, Exhumed, & Incantation among others. To that I would add early Cryptopsy, whom I am reminded of with the very first set of riffs, & much of the rest of the riffing on the album. The band's general formula seems to vary from frenzied blasting to pounding heavy mid paced parts, to some dark doom breakdowns here & there, which is indeed where Incantation is brought to mind.

The highlight tracks include firstly track 5, 'Angelic Redemption', mostly due to a most effecive atmospheric section midway through the song, which even includes operatic female vocals. This has been a much criticised element for use in death metal, in fact listening to it brought a laugh as it reminded of the old days of Sounds Of Death mag, where melodic female vocals would result in a deduction of an entire 'skull' out of 10 - the publication's rating system. I could just imagine this album getting the same treatment by such a death metal publication, but nonetheless this is a rare case of such a musical element being successful, as the female vocalist is very competent, & her operatic style singing works very well with the band's instrumental background in this part of the song.

The other highlight track has to be the album's closer, 'Vaginal Vomit', an older song from the band's self issued 'Inherent Perversion' CD EP. This song simply has the strongest & most memorable riffs & arrangement of all songs on the album.

It has to be said that the band does have some flaws too. They do have a fairly limited range of riffing, with all the songs relying on generally the same range of riffing techniques, particularly repeating with the fast parts. Additionally the vocals, while being competent, are not outstanding, & sound a little forced with some vocal sections. I think some vocal sections could have benefitted by being re-recorded for a better general vocal performance.

The production & recording quality are effective, achieving a sound that is balanced & clear, while sounding raw & underground as well.

This album definitely suggested further potential for the band, but sadly it wasn't to be, as Scattered Remnants disbanded after this album. They did reform again in 2006, but the re-union was unsuccessful & short lived. Meanwhile, US underground death metal label Deepsend Records released all the band's recordings via the 'Indulgence In Masochism' CD in 2002. Fans of brutal death metal such as early Cryptopsy, Suffocation, & Incantation should check this band's music out.