Turning Inside Out

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Without having to do too much mental legwork, pondering the current state of death metal spews forth (perhaps in a literal sense) the word “boring.” It’s boring because the new crop of bands that inhabit it aren’t trying very hard; they’re just referencing their copies of Mental Funeral or Eaten Back to Life and running with it, doing as little as they can to establish their own sound. Worst of all, it’s an accepted practice. People are inexplicably excited about the retro death metal movement, even if it threatens to send the style hurdling toward the Stone Age, well before Venom could piece together a power chord. Better yet, why aren’t more bands copping Obituary? …..

[rant over]

One of the few retro-minded death metal bands worth giving a fuss about is California’s Skeletal Remains, who obviously, are doing a fantastic Obituary impersonation on their Beyond the Flesh debut. Loaded with instantly jarring numbers (“Desolate Isolation” knows how to get down) and the John Tardy-like vocals of Chris Monroy, Beyond the Flesh offers up something fresh in a rehashed world…in a roundabout way, of course. There’s plenty of poaching from the vaunted Cause of Death and The End Complete albums, only done with a tad more zip, showcasing what Obituary might sound like if they’d up the tempo. Plus, Monroy would be choice #1A should Tardy ever have to miss a tour. Dude is spot-on!

Since Obituary is in no hurry to alter their sound, and Beyond the Flesh is still knocking our block off, we snagged guitarist Adrius Marquez for the lo-down…


The band was formed just a few years ago, so care to shed light on your formation?

We all met in middle school/going into high school, so we’ve know each other for quite a while now and played in previous bands together.  Our former guitarist Mike de la O came to Chris Monroy with this idea; they started writing and recruited Christian Reyes on the drums. The band was going by the name Anthropology at the time. During the recording of the Desolate Isolation demo, Monroy would send me the rough copies of the songs, and as I listened to them I would think to myself “Like damn, this is actually really good!”  One day Monroy tells me that Mike decided to part ways with the band, that he was going to need help. He asked me if I wanted in and without hesitation I said yes. I think the very next day I received a message from Obrego that read “Anthropology!” Once I knew he was joining I was even more excited.  I would say about a month later I moved back to California, and that’s how Skeletal Remains came to be.

Several of your members are a part of thrash bands, but with Skeletal Remains, you’re playing old-school death metal. What’s the allure to this style?

Well we all like different styles of music, but we all think that death metal is the best there is. We don’t think there is anything better out there yet, and that is the reason why we chose to play this style.

Retro, old-school death metal has been all the rage in 2012. Where do you see yourselves fitting in?

When we started, we weren’t really aware of the death metal scene, and what bands were a part of it.  All we really did was just practice and practice, and write and write. Everything else kinda just fell into place from releasing the demo to the signing with FDA Rekotz. As for us fitting in, we aren’t really worried about all of that stuff. We trying to find a rank amongst the death metal bands of today’s scene isn’t something we were shooting for, though it would be nice to cement ourselves into the death metal genre. As for fitting in, that’s really up to the fans of death metal; we can’t really say and it’s something we don’t put much thought into. 

Do you think the scene will eventually run itself into the ground?

Nah, no way, no how. Death metal has been around for a long while now; it’s had its ups and downs, but we don’t see it going away anytime soon. As long as people keep supporting it and bands keep performing, the scene will be very much alive. 2012 alone was full of great death metal releases, Asphyx’s Deathhammer being one of them; that is a great fuckin’ album! Releases like those just show how well and very much alive the scene is and will be for years to come, and it’s up to us to keep it going.

Obituary is the first band that comes to mind when listening to you. Is there a particular album of theirs that you are most fond of?

It would definitely have to be Cause of Death. I mean what an album!  Everything about that album is great, especially the lead guitar work on it. We are also big fans of James Murphy’s work, so yeah, that’s the album we would say is one of our favorites.

The most telling aspect of your sound is Chris’s ability to sound like John Tardy. It’s uncanny. When did you realize how excellent his vocals sounded?

Ha-ha, yeah, there are a lot of death metal vocalists that come to mind when you hear Chris’ vocals in the music, and it is something he was shooting for. It was actually during the recording of Beyond the Flesh. Everything was pretty much done; all that was left were the vocal tracks. As soon as we heard his vocals through that booth, we were able to tell the great improvement he had made from the Desolate Isolation demo to now. It’s the voice of a thousand demons; it’s raw, thick and it’s exactly what death metal vocals should sound like. He’s a lot more comfortable, a lot more confident about his vocals, and you can definitely hear that on this album.

The songs on Beyond the Flesh are instantly catchy (i.e. “Desolate Isolation” and “Traumatic Existence”). For you, what makes a good death metal song?

What we all think makes a good death metal song is good, catchy riffs, vocal patterns that flow with those riffs, and well-structured solos with a mix of melody and technicality.  It is a mixture of all those things; you know, just songs people can bang their heads to, and not just four minutes of a blast-beats with random growls here and there. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool from time to time, but it can get a little boring after a while.

Oftentimes, death metal has been a struggle between technicality and simplicity. Judging by your sound, your sound, you prefer the latter. Do you think death metal complicates itself too much?

Yeah, but only to a certain extent.  We try and put as much of both of those elements into our music, keeping it balanced, yet sticking to that old-school sound. A lot people try and find their own sound you know? It is like away from what everyone else is doing, thus creating all these different types of death metal in the process, which isn’t a bad thing; that’s what keeps the scene alive. So like I said, to a certain extent, it might complicate itself, but not much as you’d think it would. 

Any plans for live activity?

We plan on trying to play as much as we can and at as many places as we can. Hopefully Europe will happen this year and there is some stuff in the works for July-August and a really cool festival out there. We are all hoping it happens!

Finally, what’s on deck for 2013?

Hopefully to do a small tour of Europe this year and to keep playing where ever we are allowed to play. Maybe we’ll even have a new album this year!  So keep an eye out for that and thanks to the fans for all the support! Keep supporting! Cheers!




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