Well, here’s a crusher. Let’s give it a ten and put it up there as one of the best traditional death discs I’ve heard all year. Maybe you didn’t think much of them when you heard their song “Dead Black (Heart Of Ice)” in Rock Band 4 (What? They made that many?) but they’ve definitely upped their game since then and have given a performance that I’d certainly consider the best in the genre.
Now someone has these guys tagged as sounding most like another of my favorite DM acts, the almighty Bloodbath, which I think are a worthy enough representation. Yet there are also a few cuts on this disc that feature more of the melodic side, as guitarists Chad Fisher and Tom Preziosi show what they’re made of when Colin Conway’s drums aren’t blasting and Ryan Murphy isn’t pounding his bass. Mitchell Fletcher has never been in an act prior to Soul Remnants, but he clearly has the style downpact and that’s really all that matters. You will hear mesmerizing riff compositions, you will hear drumming that goes well above the norm, and you’ll hear a solid enough vocal performance to perfectly front the musical mastery apparent here. It’s a good disc, and you really don’t need me to tell you that.
Even the instrumental moments, “Walled City” (which is a feast of technical prog meets death mayhem) and “Decomposition” are completely necessary to the performance. Not only are they potent pieces, but they actually manage to transcend the normal Swedish death standards that hold back most bands in this genre. Soul Remnants are trying to show the world that they want to be recognized as a bit more than just another Bloodbath, Entombed or Grave clone. With this record, they really could have it. But don’t get me wrong – the band haven’t completely thrown the formula out the window, it just features more variation and comes off as a powerful disc because of that. When I listen to Ouroboros, I hear a disc that a band really put time into. Also, the solos on this thing are nothing short of amazing.
It’s regrettable that I don’t have enough time to really sit down with it, because it’s just the kind of disc that I feel even after three listens, still requires more time to soak in. I keep hearing new things on this album, it just keeps on giving. I almost feel that the vocals are deterrent in some ways, because I’m missing out on some of the riffs due to the being so thick in the mix. Not that that’s a bad thing, I quite like the full-force vocal. Fletcher’s vocals are nothing uncommon for death metal, but I couldn’t see the album without them. He really seems to put a lot of emotion into this, which is felt heavily on certain pieces. It’s more than mere gravel, it’s more than a scowl or a scream, it’s a purging of one’s very essence plastered into the music.
Even though I’m truly digging “Echoes Of Insanity” right now, there’s something to be found in every song on this disc, and that’s not something you get often. Even from anything that the legends have currently put out. I know, that’s a very tough claim, but I think this album is strong enough to back it. Let me just say this, it makes me really proud to have this album in my collection, and even though eOne accidentally put the back cover on upside down and the case was slightly cracked (don’t worry guys, I bought a bulk order of two-hundred clear plastic CD cases as this has been happening a lot with my current postal carrier) I had no problems repacking it into a brand new case and fixing the back cover issue.
For those of you that think maybe I’m just high off the fumes and that it might not be nearly as good as it sounds, I challenge you to give it a listen. This is how death metal stays relevant, in my opinion. There’s just so much to like and I’d be a complete idiot if I didn’t recommend it, all the while salivating like a dog who had heard Pavlov’s bell. As far as I’m concerned, Soul Remnants can break up, never make another album after this and Ouroboros would still be considered a modern monument in the genre. The disc isn’t even that long to be honest, but it doesn’t need to be either. There’s enough here that they could play for a set and should. I think the world deserves a complete Ouroboros set, and it very well might be better than anything they’ve released prior. If there’s a top of the mountain, Soul Remnants have found it and I don’t think they’d ever be able to top this one, so it’s knitting for the lot of them! I’m sure they would knit fine death metal flavored blankets and mittens, especially for the coming winter.
Gentlemen, you’ve mastered the art of death metal; so let’s see what you can do with another genre. Can they strike twice? Can Soul Remnants save pop music? Can they improve hip hop? What about electronica? Can they create such a memorable rock band that the mainstream comes back from it’s slight departure? Whatever they do next, I’m sure it’s going to be memorable, because this is just fantastic. The Grim Lord thinks that everyone in the world should have a copy of Ouroboros, so get it right now! Now! Don’t wait. Head to the Bandcamp link and hit order. Order it again. Maybe your aunt Nancy wants a copy, or how about good old grandpa Joe? Can you see the look on his face when the postman arrives to bring him such a memorable album? He’ll put twice the amount of tobbacco in his pipe that day!
Saying little more, The Grim Tower highly recommends Soul Remnants Ouroboros and we think that everyone else will too. It’s the best death metal album of the year, even if you don’t think so. We do.
(9 Tracks, 36:00)