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Where is your God now? - 66%

Empyreal, September 5th, 2007

This is the latest offering from staunch death metal veterans Vital Remains, who I enjoy a great deal. The only other record I have from them is Dawn of the Apocalypse, and this is a much different album then that one was. While the Vital Remains of the past played what I called 'epic death metal', this album cranks up the production quality and tones down the acoustic guitar usage. It's a very modern, melodic death metal sound (and I don't mean melodic as in In Flames, either), but sadly I cannot say it's as good as the other album I've heard from them.

The vocals are taken over by Glen Benton of Deicide, who doesn't have a very good death growl anymore. He may have had such a thing 15 years ago, but here he sounds very strained, trying way too hard to sound evil and menacing. His pained, agonized growls are pushed up to the front of the mix, and we hear him way too much, which brings this down a lot. The music is decent at best, with a guitar tone that is not quite as good as the one from 2000's Dawn of the Apocalypse, but still pretty good, and definitely "brutal." The soaring, melodic solos sound a bit out of place, far too clean and polished for what is otherwise a brutal, pounding exercise in visceral death metal, and sometimes they get a bit annoying. The drum sound is pounding and brutal, sounding like the aural equivalent of the cover of this album---nails being furiously hammered into every inch of your tortured flesh. Interpret that as you like. This just never fucking lets you take a breather throughout it's near-70 minute runtime.

All of the songs here are long, tortured exercises in high-speed death metal brutality. It's not easy to distinguish one song from another, which is to be expected with the style of music the band plays. Glen Benton's murderous growls are layered with some almost black-metal screeching, and the guitars just keep pummeling you down further and further. While there are no weak tracks on this disc, I have to say my favorites are the title track, "Born to Rape the World" and the epic " 'til Death." "Return to the Upheaval of Nihility" has some of the acoustic guitar from 'Dawn...', which is a nice touch. It almost gives the song a middle-eastern feeling until the virgin-slaying onslaught starts up again and you're ripped into tiny shreds.

This disc is too fucking long. There are like three tracks here that are longer than eight minutes, and Vital Remains is just not varied enough to warrant such a long, plodding album. This is literally like they took the songs they wrote for the album and just played each one twice over, and slapped it all onto a CD at the end. If these tracks were three or four minutes in length, then the disc would be far more tolerable, and even pretty damn good. As it is, Vital Remains have created a disc from which you can only listen to about two songs before you get bored. There are many better death metal bands out there today, and Deicide themselves had far better albums in their hayday, so just skip this one. It's not bad, but there is certainly better out there. Recommended to VR completists.