Extreme metal titans VITAL REMAINS have returned with a vicious new slab of blasphemy that promises to strike fear in the heart of the masses. The much-anticipated new album, Icons of Evil, was produced by the renowned Erik Rutan (Cannibal Corpse, Goatwhore) and marks the group's second recording with Glen Benton (Deicide) on vocals. Founder Tony Lazaro (guitars) wrote the entire album and handled bass duties for its recording, while Dave Suzuki once again tracked all the drums and lead guitar parts.
Drawing from such classic '80s metal bands as Venom, Celtic Frost, Bathory, Mercyful Fate, Sodom and Destruction, VITAL REMAINS based their survival through a DIY underground approach that earned them a rabid legion of fans. Forged from the same evil, early '90s death metal meltdown that gave birth to legends like Cannibal Corpse, Deicide and Immolation, the group released their debut, Let Us Pray, to the pleasure of ravenous metalheads everywhere. Then a Rhode Island foursome, they quickly became the talk of the underground, thanks to a three-month North American tour with the legendary revelers in gore, Autopsy.
After signing with Peaceville/Music for Nations in 1994, VITAL REMAINS continued to expand upon their raw, savage sound with their second full-length, Into Cold Darkness. Poor distribution and promotion plagued the band, resulting in a contractual breakup. The French label Osmose Records soon signed the group to a two-album deal, resulting in 1997's Forever Underground and 2000's Dawn of the Apocalypse. Both releases saw the band move in a more epic direction, with guitarist Lazaro writing more complex, nuanced songs.
After four full-length releases, the group's biggest break would come in 2003 as they signed to Century Media and released the genre-defying epic Dechristianize with new vocalist Benton. Crystallizing everything that the band had been working toward on Forever Underground and Dawn of the Apocalypse, it was hailed by critics and fans alike as one of extreme metal's most accomplished and ambitious works yet. Outburn wrote, "Not enough can be said about how well every piece of the VITAL REMAINS puzzle fits together, perfectly fused to provide a satisfying onslaught of pulverizing demonic mayhem and sacrilegious gratification.?? Metal Maniacs hinted at the band taking a slightly more melodic direction: "The title track imparts a slight tinge of classic metal, as Lazaro and Suzuki rip off leads in tandem.?? Dechristianize's subtle incorporation of traditional metal leads over the band's well-established and finely tuned brutality obviously went over well: The album quickly elevated the band into the death metal elite and was supported by four full U.S. tours, further solidifying their status as one of the genre's hardest-working acts.
Never a band to shy from controversy, the group's latest newsworthy item was several retailers' reaction to the Icons of Evil cover art. As Lazaro explains, "It is great to see that the cover of our new record has already started some controversy. Some of our distributors saw the artwork and suggested we change it. The record comes out around Easter, and apparently the subject of Christ being nailed to his cross is a bit extra-sensitive around that time. We were told no one would take the CD unless we either changed it or put a slipcase over it. I absolutely refused to change it, but I still wanted our fans to be able to find the album in their local stores, so we ultimately decided to go with the slipcase. I'm still pretty bummed about it, but this was out of my hands.?? Clearly, the band is not afraid of stirring the pot.
VITAL REMAINS continues to bring to the table nothing less than barbaric war metal the way it was meant to be: fast, brutal and tasteful. Icons of Evil boasts 10 tracks of spewed hatred, featuring the most bile lyrics as performed by one of death metal's most legendary and infamous figures. Guaranteed to be one of this year's best and most controversial death metal releases, the album won't disappoint those looking for pummeling, old-school metal with inspired leads, epic song structures and unreal drumming.