Inconsistent lineups, ever-changing record labels, and sporadic touring and recording through the years have always plagued the career of Vital Remains. But in 2007's long-awaited Icons of Evil, the Providence, RI, death metal veterans may just have their greatest album yet -- so great, in fact, that one almost wishes the band had resisted the urge to advance its overtly satanic agenda (starting with its gratuitous cover art, timed for an Easter release no less), so that undivided attention could have been focused on its astonishing musical achievements instead. These achievements easily shine through in any event, as core members Tony Lazaro and Dave Suzuki -- once again aided and abetted by Deicide vocal legend Glen Benton -- follow up the introductory carnage and crucifixion sound effects of "Where Is Your God Now" with no less than eight epic-length metal nuggets produced by fellow death metal mainstay Erik Rutan (Morbid Angel, Hate Eternal, etc.). All are comprised of arduously brutal yet meticulously assembled death metal, frequently sparked to uncommonly immediate listener appreciation (see highlights "Scorned," "In Infamy," and the title cut) by Suzuki's inspired solos, melody lines, and -- in the case of "Reborn...The Upheaval of Nihility" -- acoustic Spanish guitar flourishes. And every bit of this veritable extreme metal A-team's combined experience comes together on the album's crowning jewel, "'Till Death," boasting nine impeccable minutes, as unassailable to scrutiny as any similarly long-winded heavy metal triumph previously recorded by Maiden, Metallica, Dark Angel, Opeth -- you name it. Even the album's closing cover tune choice lives up to now heightened expectations, as Vital Remains deliver a positively superb death metal version of Yngwie J. Malmsteen's Rising Force's "Disciples of Hell." In sum, don't let Icons of Evil's almost childish levels of forced blasphemy and controversy dissuade you from enjoying its heavenly musical rewards.
|Label:||Emi Europe Generic|