Skeletal Remains unleash burst of traditional death metal with punishing ‘Devouring Mortality’

We try to open these pieces with introductory comparisons to life or politics or something that relates to the music in question we’re about to discuss. It gets tiring. I sat here for minutes before trying to think of a way to begin what I wanted to say. There are times when just jabbing at the heart of the matter works best, and so let’s do that.

There’s something great about a tried-and-true death metal record that doesn’t try to be something it’s not, doesn’t aim to start any new trends, and just wants to deliver the goods. That’s exactly what you get with “Devouring Mortality,” the punishing third record from California death metal crew Skeletal Remains. Reeking of the stench of the early ’90s (in a good way!), this trio rips out 11 songs packed into a perfectly portioned 44 minutes that scratch that deep itch for a really good, honest death metal display. That doesn’t mean it’s run of the mill by any means. It’s wickedly executed, mashing power generated by these three guys—vocalist/guitarist Chris Monroy, guitarist Adrian Obregon, bassist Adrius Marquez—who pour every ounce of precision and violence into this thing.

“Ripperology” starts the record thrashing away, with gnarly vocals chewing your skin, and the leads spraying. Atmosphere is injected, and eerie bells bring fear, while everything ends on manic cries and a blistering outburst. “Seismic Abyss” has a flurry of guitars and death chugging, as the howls are spat out, and the track delivers pain. The pace changes later, smearing its fury, while a blinding solo gets us to our blistering finish. “Catastrophic Retribution” is punchy and really has that ’90s sense to it. The vocals crush while the leads send blinding lights before things slow down and take on doomy sentiments. Then, of course, it speeds up and breaks necks over its final minutes. The title cut bursts with speed, with the vocals scraping and the leads having a nice vintage feel to them. “Torture Labyrinth” has a cool intro with alien guitars abound, and then the band starts delivering pain. The vocals are comprised of shrieks while the drums blister, and the guitars go off on an exploratory mission. “Grotesque Creation” opens with a great riff, the drums rumbling, and the tempo sprawling back and forth. The music swims through the madness, hitting some interesting curves before fading away.

“Parasitic Horrors” has vocals that come at you like shrapnel while the guitars twist your brain, and the tempo leaves bruising. The soloing is fluid and swelling, and then everything bursts, sending guts and bones everywhere. “Mortal Decimation” goes off the rails from the start, sending you into a panic attack as the swings start coming. Growls and piercing yells combine, while the playing then leaves you dizzy and reaching for walls to balance. The soloing then splatters, as an echo effect intensifies your confusion. “Lifeless Manifestation” provides a brief pull back, as it’s a short instrumental cut with demonic howls in the background, and it all spills into “Reanimating Pathogen.” There, confounding melodies arrive and twist your senses, while the vocals shred, and the guitars take over. Some interesting colors are added to the mix before the band rips away, dual leads glow, and we come to a crunchy crash landing. Closer “Internal Detestation” has a strong, riveting start while wildly howled vocals attack, and some insane solo work arrives. The guitars then intertwine, sending fire, and the track begins mashing before coming to a searing end.

You’ll find more futuristic stuff with other bands, but I doubt that bothers Skeletal Remains. This band does what it does very well, evidence of which can be found on “Devouring Mortality.” This is no-nonsense death played with some exploratory flourishes that always gives back ample amounts of power. There’s something to be said for consistency, and Skeletal Remains are packed with that.

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