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Vital Remains 

Dechristianize (Olympic/Century Media)

Why is Deicide growler Glen Benton fronting this band? If Vital Remains wanted to bring in a "superstar" guest vocalist, why not pick one with a more distinctive voice?

Vocal gripes aside, though, Dechristianize, Vital Remains' fifth album, is solid death metal. The hour-long disc has all the necessary speed, power, and quality riffs, as well as that old-school sound in spades. Dave Suzuki's guitar leads steal from Kerry King, of course, but his technical skills provide plenty of original touches. The drums, which sound like practice pads too much of the time, are the weakest link.

Death metal definitely benefits from the contributions of veteran acts, but Benton's presence here is unnecessary. Suzuki, the band's chief songwriter and creative focal point, did just about everything else himself; he could easily have handled vocals too.

More by Phil Freeman

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