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Speaking as somebody who remembers the early demo/7" days of these Rhode Island deathsters, Vital Remains have come a long way since the relatively crude "Frozen Terror". They've polished their sound into a highly impressive display of technicality meeting flat out madness over the last years, especially the last several years, and a lot of this is due to the addition of Nevada native Dave Suzuki.
A few words about Mr. Suzuki: his father is one of Japan's top jazz pianists and his mother is an opera singer, accounting for the fact he has some major talent that comes to the fore and then some on this album. His lead guitar work is truly amazing! Most guys seem to think they're "classically-influenced" just because they sweep and sweep and sweep pick away (are you listening, Moyses Kolesne? Learn a new solo already!), but Dave's leads are honest to goodness classical melodies that are beautiful and soar high like a terrible, beautiful angel of death over the carnage of the riffing that Tony Lazaro lays down on the guitar and bass front. He also is a very emotional player as well, incorporating tasteful bending and vibrato and his harmonies are meticulously tracked. "Reborn...The Upheaval of Nihility" even features some sweet and tasty acoustic guitar plucking that really adds another shade of subtlety (relatively speaking) the their sound.
Let us not forget the fact that the likes of Inferno, Frost, Tony Laureano, George Kollias, and Pete Sandoval had better look to their sides, because Dave is right up there with them in the blasting department. Not behind, making them watch their backs, but right up there with them and threatening to leave them behind such is the furious speed and precision of his playing. Yes, his kick drums are triggered, I will cut him slack because if he went any faster his kit would fall apart from the vibrations. His blasting is interspersed with more traditional thrash beats and slower parts as well, showing he is a diverse player and he also gets some creative double kick syncopation going here and there too.
Tony Lazaro is no slouch in the riffing department either, laying it down with intense fervor, but this is where I start to have minor issues with the album. Like many reviewers on here, I am inclined to agree that Tony needs to edit his songs a bit more and not repeat riffs so much. If each song had been about a minute or two shorter this would've not been so much an issue. And he repeats the same riff on the slow parts of "Icons Of Evil" and "Scorned", something I deleted points for for lack of creativity. It's only slightly different, but it may as well be the same. Tony has ambition, though, I will give him credit for attempting a more interesting and epic album each time out the starting gate. If the songs had been a little shorter, this album would've gotten a much higher rating; as they are now, they feel a tad bloated and excessive, especially when they repeat the same parts just as you think the song is coming to an end. Repetition is not always a good thing.
A bigger issue is another thing that's been pointed out that I agree with; Glen Benton. His bellowing and belching may fit Deicide's more straightforward sound, but for something this technical and classy, relatively speaking again, a more diversified vocal approach would've done the music far much more justice. Especially since the lyrics are relatively intelligent as this style of music goes (Dave strikes again), it's a shame to hear them done such a disservice by such a one-dimensional vocalist.
I'd say, though, that for the most part Vital Remains connects hard with this album. They succeed with their attempts at incorporating more subtle and melodic elements on the lead guitar front into the frenzied blur of killing force riffage and the devastating drum work, and I respect them highly for being ambitious enough to try this and to diversify their sound to enable themselves to last this long. I enjoy this album a lot and look forward to seeing what they do next, myself. A different vocalist, maybe, though, next time around? Then we may well have a truly beautiful disaster on our hands!