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It's been four years since the awesome Death Metal machine known as Vital Remains unleashed the brutal Dechristianize on an unsuspecting world. That album has a near-legendary rep, and few thought it could be surpassed, but I say Icons Of Evil is Vital Remains' best album ever, and certainly the Death Metal album to beat this year.
I like Dechristianize a lot, but I think it was a bit too brutal for its own good, and the complex, epic songwriting got lost in the speed and stacatto deathgrunts. This album is like all the good parts of that album turned up three notches. Icons Of Evil is pure Vital Remains – over an hour of high-speed slayage including several songs well over the 8-minute mark. It boggles my mind how this band can cram so much into one song, but the blistering, hellish title track alone will rip you a new one with a zillion riffs and those glorious, breathtaking melodic leads that are a VR hallmark. I'd pick favorites on this disc, but there's just not a weak track on here with the possible exception of the closer "Disciples Of Hell", which is oddly flat. Here and there the band gets a bit monotonous, but only in bits.
This is a Death Metal album destined for classic status. As good as this band's last disc was, Icons Of Evil blows it completely out of the water. Perhaps only Nile come close to this kind of searing speed and fury, certainly no other Death Metal band really comes close to this kind of feral madness. Glen Benton may have brought Deicide back from the brink of irrelevancy last year, but I think this album blows The Stench Of Redemption away. For fast, furious Satanic Death Metal killing, this is the shit. Get it.
Originally written for www.metalcrypt.com