Soul Remnants
Black and Blood

Black and Blood marks the second full-length release in a decade long existence from Boston death metal mercenaries Soul Remnants. And it’s a formidable beast of a death metal album, holding the proud tradition of the genres storied past close to heart. Soul Remnants nail the often elusive knack of songcraft, managing to sound fresh and modern whilst upholding their strong old school values. Traces of later-era Death, Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation, and Carcass-style melodic death highlights, without polluting their rich DNA, while elements of thrash and black metal are thrown into the gene pool for further variety. The resulting formula doesn’t sound the least bit derivative or contrived, the elements binding together harmoniously with the band’s tight, livewire delivery and precise execution. Everything about this album smacks of professionalism and undoubtable talent. The performances are top notch across the board – from the ultra-tight rhythm section, highlighted by the outstanding drum work of Colin Conway; to the intricate, razor-sharp twin guitar assault of Thomas Preziosi and Chad Fisher; to the sturdy, partially discernible growls of Mitch Fletcher.

Terrific individual performances aside, Soul Remnants deftly balance brutality, technical proficiency and blistering speed with songwriting that is varied and memorable. It’s no easy feat standing-out from the pack in death metal’s crowded modern landscape, yet Soul Remnants do so effortlessly, mixing raw savagery with catchy and dynamic songwriting. Speed reigns supreme throughout the album, spearheaded by the tight, intricate guitar work and exceptional drumming. Conway consistently shines behind the kit, with his imaginative playing and technicality cutting a towering figure. The crisp and robust modern production fits their sound like a glove, bringing clarity and heaviness in equal measure.

“Chopwork II” opens the album with murderous intent, offering a Slayer-on-steroids barrage of thrashing speed and intensity. The song gives a strong example of the many positive qualities of Soul Remnants’ songwriting style and fluid, catchy structures. A couple of solos emerge and disappear, the second of which leads into some killer techy interplay before the track closes out with a furious blend of blast beats and hyper-thrash rhythms. Soul Remnants’ versatile songwriting and volatile cocktail of styles comes to the fore on the dark and violent duo of “Cauldron of Blood” and “Incinerator”, the album moving seamlessly from strength to strength. “Symptoms of Death” brings the brutality ten-fold, opening with a dark and chugging rhythm before exploding into a devastating blast beat segment teetering on the edge of chaos. Thrashy bursts of speed, wild soloing and thunderous mid-tempo grooves tops off a killer track.

Then, just when you think you’ve nailed down the gist of their powerful sound, Soul Remnants drop the album’s biggest surprise at the halfway point, revealing a deeper emotional and musical depth. The majestic and masterfully structured “Dead Black (Heart of Ice)” has European-styled melodic death coursing through its veins, as melancholic twin guitar harmonies and the gruff and emotive vocals take hold. The song winds a glorious path during its first couple of minutes before the nearly 8-minute track hits its stride with a livelier, aggressive stomp segueing into a soft acoustic break. It only gets better from here, as the acoustic interlude transitions into an icy blast beat segment and the band’s black metal and melodic death influences intertwine gracefully to conclude the song in grand style.

Although this incredible song is a tough act to follow, the second half of the album doesn’t miss a beat. From the malevolent vibe and versatile blackened death of “Rape Casket” to the snarling riffs and mid-tempo crunch of “The Antifaith”, there’s nothing remotely disposable on offer. Supreme musicianship and quality riffs are always close to the surface, while the more abrasive side of their music is tempered by strands of melody and the always dynamic songwriting.

I have yet to sink my teeth into their 2009 self-released debut, Plague of the Universe, though it’s hard to imagine it besting this outstanding album in quality. Soul Remnants’ hard work plugging away in underground obscurity has culminated in one of the most satisfying death metal albums I’ve had the pleasure to listen to this year. If this excellent album is any indication, their little known status looks set to be shattered. Phenomenal.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Luke Saunders
November 19th, 2013

Comments

  1. Commented by: Ben

    Awesome to see such a good review for these guys. I haven’t heard much of it yet but I’ve known Colin Conway for years (sorry for the name dropping), all the way back to his involvement with Cannae (Horror era). He is a sick, sick drummer and perhaps works harder at his craft than any I’ve seen. It’s shame that I’ve never been able to get to any of their live shows, though. Oh, the life of a parent!


  2. Commented by: E. Thomas

    This is all over the place, but they do it well. I interviewed Colin from Cannae for metal maniacs and he was super cool.


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