Released: 2017, eOne Music/Lifeblood Inc.
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Boston's Soul Remnants venture into concept album territory with their third full-length, moving beyond the more typical death metal tropes of 2013's Black and Blood, which offered such ditties as “Cauldron of Blood,” “Rape Casket,” “Incinerator” and “Chopwork II.” And good on ‘em for that.
Ouroboros tells of a futuristic war among all mankind, which reaches the point where there's “nothing left to murder,” or so says the closing track “False Kingdom of Prophecy.” And while whatever narrative nuance there might be pretty much gets lost in frontman Mitch Fletcher flame-throwing vocals and the band's almost exclusively brutal presentation, at least the thought is there.
Indeed, you won't find much in the way of concept album convention here at all. Other than the acoustic instrumental “Decomposition” that leads into “False Kingdom” and the superfluous acoustic/violin outro on the otherwise droning “Echoes of Insanity,” there is little sonic thread to tie the songs together. If anything, it's as if the band went out of their way to minimize any obvious connection.
The songs here run a wide gamut, from modern metal/thrash to Obituary-like death metal beefiness, with a healthy dash of opulent black metal and progressive musings that recall late period Death. “Walled City” sounds almost like a cover of something from Individual Though Patterns.
And the band aren't afraid to mix and match as they go along, so the Scandinavian black metal sweep of “Dissolved Into Obscurity” is interspersed with epic thrash lead breaks and Lamb of God-like groove. Or the chugging, deliberate rumble of “Depravity's Lock” serving and volleying with d-beat/blast-beat fury. It's all ably played, and kudos to Soul Remants for that, but the constant motion can make things a bit hard to follow – although the loud, abrasive production from Peter Rutcho, who they worked with before, delivers plenty of punch.
Still, Ouroboros is a pretty big step up in all aspects from Black and Blood. Soul Remnants are more confident and adventurous, and while they sometimes take things a bit far they also steer well away from obviousness. Ouroboros may be about the least concept-album sounding concept album you may have heard, but the good outweighs the bad in that respect.