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The old ways refuse to stay buried. - 82%

hells_unicorn, December 2nd, 2019
Written based on this version: 2019, CD, Transcending Obscurity Records (Digipak, Limited edition)

As the 2010s draw to a close it seems that the ongoing old school death metal revival that has dominated much of the decade is far from slowing down. Though this revival of sorts could largely be attributed to the efforts of Bloodbath dating back to the turn of the millennium, it has mostly been younger bands like Morfin and older bands that made a comeback after years of inactivity like Sweden’s Entrails that have typified this youthful vigor for a style that was largely a staple of the previous generation. Among the latest entries to come about that arguably embodies both of these aforementioned 2010s successors is the Dutch outfit Burial Remains, being comprised primarily of younger affiliates of the scene but also fronted by veteran vocalist and current helmsman of the German stalwarts Fleshcrawl, culminating in a band that brings a combination of youthful exuberance and experience into the mix that promises to give the competition a run for its money, at least if their solid and succinct debut offering Trinity Of Deception is any indication.

The stylistic template presented here is heavily rooted in the Swedish tradition, largely hearkening back to the pre-death ‘n’ roll days of Entombed, with maybe some passing moments of the more brutal aesthetic of early Grave. Things generally move at a swift pace, yet with fairly frequent moments of slower grooving that indicates a slight affinity for the more doom-influenced side of the American scene represented in Obituary and Autopsy. For his part, vocalist Sven Gross proves to be a stabilizing force, largely sticking to a deep yet rhythmic barking sound that functions equally well during the more chaotic, tremolo riff-infused blasting segments and the slower trudging breakdowns that occur almost as frequently. The band’s sound doesn’t necessarily lend itself to a Gothenburg sound in even the primordial At The Gates sense, yet the interplay between the lead guitar and the rest of the arrangement has a bit more of a static, melodic tinge to it rather than a shred happy one in the old school sense, though the tones themselves are a bit more ambiguous and dissonant in character.

Despite being of a fairly varied character, the overall presentation is generally simple and each song tends to rely upon a predetermined structure that makes for an overall consistent listen from start to finish. A few of these morose anthems of despair and decay such as the mini-epic thrasher and opener “Crucifixion Of The Vanquished” and the slightly more blast-happy “Burn With Me” stand out a bit more from the rest largely by relying upon a signature recurring melodic lead and a few auspicious moments of cadence in a manner heavily reminiscent of classic songs off Entombed’s Left Hand Path, largely relying upon familiarity to ram the point home. Others such as “Tormentor” and “They Crawl” take things a bit faster and set themselves apart by sheer ferocity, while the slow moving “March Of The Undead” lays on the doom-steeped heaviness to set itself apart from the rest. However, there is still a general unity of structure and sound that ties all of these songs together, sort of like a singular soundtrack to a zombie apocalypse film with the same theme yet differing pacing depending upon the scene.

It’s a foregone conclusion that an album of this sort isn’t bringing anything new to the table in terms of stylistic evolution, which naturally leads to the inevitable question of should it have to? There is a very strong argument for a no answer in this regard, especially given that there is still a heavy demand for this variant of death metal given the continual expansion of bands producing it, arising either by mitosis from the old guard or by new adherents coming into the scene. There will naturally be the occasional cynic who simply asserts that death metal hasn’t done anything worthwhile since 1993, but this isn’t the sort of album that is geared towards slaves of nostalgia so much as it is towards those who see old school death metal as an ongoing tradition that is still very much alive. Burial Remains offer a competent addition to the growing ranks of bands that have been continuing the revival that Bloodbath helped to usher in about 2 decades ago, and all with a taste for the old Swedish sound need very much apply.

Originally written for Sonic Perspectives (www.sonicperspectives.com)