While it might not claim the title of the absolute best death metal album, Vital Remains' offering is indeed a potent contender, balancing melody and brutality exceptionally well. This album stands out for its ability to maintain an intricate blend of melody and unrelenting aggression.
However, there are a few aspects that could be considered less than perfect. The intro, despite its classic horror movie reference, might seem somewhat out of place and perhaps ill-conceived for such an otherwise exceptional album. Additionally, there's one riff in the track "Societe des Luciferiens" that feels slightly out of sync with the overall tone of the album, given its happier, punkish quality. The song lengths, especially in the title track and "Behold the Throne of Chaos," tend to be on the longer side and could potentially benefit from more concise arrangements.
But now, on to the strengths. This album exudes consistency. Each riff, breakdown, and guitar solo fits seamlessly within the composition, creating a cohesive and compelling listening experience.
Picking the best songs is a challenge, but "Black Magic Curse" and "Behold the Throne of Chaos" deserve special mention. "Black Magic Curse" stands out for its menacing chorus and wicked guitar solo, showcasing the versatility of Dave Suzuki's guitar skills. "Behold the Throne of Chaos" is a true standout, with its blistering pace and an infectiously catchy riff that cements its status as one of the top-tier death metal tracks in existence.
"Came No Ray of Light," a beautiful acoustic interlude, provides a brief respite from the relentless intensity. Meanwhile, Thorns contributes "The Night has a Thousand Eyes," offering an unexpected yet enjoyable change of pace.
Vocalist Thorns, though not as iconic as his predecessor, delivers an intense and dynamic performance, alternating between screaming and guttural deliveries. Guitarist Tony's riffs, with the exception of one minor hiccup, are exceptional. His guitar tone is brutally intense and captivating. Dave Suzuki's drumming is a testament to his skill, creating a mean, aggressive backdrop. His varied guitar solos add a layer of complexity that keeps the songs engaging.
In summary, while Vital Remains' album may not claim the crown for the best death metal album ever, it undoubtedly stands as one of the genre's finest and deserves recognition for its outstanding balance of melody and brutality.