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Vital Remains – ICONS OF EVIL
It took me some time to actually sit down and write this review. Alas, I feel I might as well just go ahead and get it over with, in a similar vein to someone taking a bowel movement while experiencing hemorrhoids the size of oranges – it will be a painful and onerous task. This being my first “bad” review for the Archives, one would think I might actually enjoy the opportunity to figuratively bash in the skulls of this pathetic pack of Neanderthals. But what is there to enjoy? “Icons of Evil” sucks because it is generic, bland, and absolutely no effort is made to set it apart from any other modern death metal album.
Sitting down on the bus on my way home from school, I thrust my headphones into my ears, eagerly awaiting the chaotic mayhem that is – or now, it seems, was – Vital Remains. “Dechristianize” was an awesome album, and with Deicide’s “The Stench of Redemption” receiving rave reviews and being hailed as their “comeback”, how could Benton go wrong? After a pointless intro, VR cranked up the brutality in the blasting titular track…. which was seven and a half minutes long. Blast beats fused together into endless noise, coupled by repetitive, stagnant riffs. I was asleep by track four. “Death metal” this certainly is; it nearly bored me to death.
When an artist sets out to write a long, intricate song, they are essentially walking a tightrope constructed of dental floss. It is quite a risky endeavor, and their experimentation either results in staggering success or complete failure; there is no middle ground here, folks. So when a song surpasses the seven, eight, nine minute mark, it can be quite brilliant (Neurosis). Or, it can be tragic, as exemplified by everything on this CD. Vital Remains do not create complex, inspired songs; they write boring, run-of-the-mill three to four minute long songs, and then double their length. This is total and complete pompous horseshit; if you cannot write a decent seven or eight minute long song, don’t fool your listeners by writing a shorter song that repeats itself once or twice over. What arrogance and utter disregard for the listener this shows. Shame on you, Mr. Benton.
The only aspects of this epic, monotonous clusterfuck that keep it from receiving a 0% are the production quality and musicianship. Props to Dave Suzuki for doing a masterful job on the guitars, bass, and drum work – the latter is quite brutal and speedy, if I do say so myself. The album is much more balanced than “Dechristianize”; the latter was far too trebly. The neo-classical soloing adds some interesting elements, and Glen Benton’s double-tracked vocals are decent, but they become dull, tired and repetitive over the disc’s VERY long sixty-seven minutes. The lyrics are the usual anti-Christian fodder: “Fuck God, God sucks, let’s gang up and kill God, etc.” There is nothing wrong with blasphemous songwriting, and it is possible to create original and engaging anti-Christian material in this day and age. But it must be done in a manner that has certain edginess to it. And on that note, I recommend that you pass up this piece of junk in favor of Behemoth’s “The Apostasy,” which is essentially what this album would sound like if Vital Remains weren’t complete fucking idiots. Life is short and precious. Do not kill sixty-seven minutes of your life on this piece of shit.