Skeletal Remains – Chaos IncomingFriday, 28th August 2020
One band within the old school death metal scene that has had no problems with sticking out is that of Skeletal Remains. With a focus more on injecting some complexity and technical stuff (without being overtly so), their particular brand is memorable as well as brutal. None more so than their upcoming fourth album, The Entombment of Chaos, which sees them again upping the ante on providing old school goodness with an ear for melody and well, chaos. We spoke with guitarist/vocalist Chris Monroy to get his thoughts on the effort, how the band has evolved, and his take on death metal – past and future.
Dead Rhetoric: The Entombment of Chaos is your fourth album. Was there anything you wanted to achieve with this release?
Chris Monroy: I guess the best way to put it is that we really wanted this record to be the next level for us. That’s kind of the way we see it for every album. After the first album, we wanted the second one to be better than that. That’s the same thing we try to do. It’s not really something that we sit down and think about. As long as the music is good enough for us, we are happy and releasing it. We just want it to be a better record than our last one. We try to push ourselves to improve with each record.
Dead Rhetoric: That said, how do you feel that the band’s sound has evolved over the last 10-ish years?
Monroy: I think with this record, it’s the best we’ve released so far. Something that we have always wanted to achieve with our music is to make it more brutal and more extreme. Not having the right team on the last few records, it wasn’t possible. But this time, especially with the drums, which we wanted more speed and blastbeats and more extreme drumming. That’s a big thing on this record. It’s faster and more brutal. There’s a lot more going on compared to our last record. I think overall, with each record, it’s gotten better and better. We have been learning as a band, so with each record I feel like we have improved as musicians. I think this one has the best musicianship to date. I’m pretty happy with the end result and can’t wait for people to check it out.
Dead Rhetoric: How’d you end up with Century Media?
Monroy: When we released our first record, we did a European tour and did a festival in Germany called Party.San Open Air. After the festival we met a few people who worked for Century Media and they were interested at that time in bringing the band onto the label. But we had a contract that was also based in Germany called FDA. The contract was for 2 albums, so we couldn’t work with them at the time. But we always kept in touch with them, and they have always been fans of the music.
After the second record, we started working together. We have always had contact with them, at least in Europe. For the last record, we were only signed to Century Media in Europe, so we released that album through Dark Descent Records in North America. For this one, Century Media took over for us worldwide.
Dead Rhetoric: Dan Seagrave did the art and you worked with Dan Swano once again. Do you feel it adds an extra dose of legitimacy for the band to work with these artists consistently?
Monroy: It’s always been a dream for us to have artwork for Dan Seagrave since he has done all of the classic death metal covers that we are all big fans of. We had wanted to work with him since the first album, but we didn’t have the budget to do it. When Century Media came in, we had a bigger budget to be able to work with him. For the style we are going for, with old school death metal, I think it fits perfectly.
Dan Swano, he has mixed and mastered so many awesome records and has been involved in so many killer projects that we are also big fans of, like Bloodbath and Edge of Sanity. So it was more like a fan thing to do. Working with them is killer because they understand our style and what we are going for. After they did Devouring Mortality, we were really stoked on the way it all came out so we wanted to use them again because we were so happy with the results of that record.
Dead Rhetoric: Any reason for the choice of “Stench of Paradise Burning” [Disincarnate] for a bonus, was it just them being a big influence?
Monroy: Pretty much. That song was actually supposed to be on our second album. We’ve wanted to do it forever. But the drummer we had on that album was last minute. He was a friend of ours. We recorded the second album with our drummer from the first album but it just didn’t sound good. It wasn’t cutting it for us. That’s when we parted ways with that drummer. So we hit him up last minute to help us out and he was into it. That being the reason, we wanted him to focus on all originals and not give him an extra song to learn.
For the third album, it was back on the table but that drummer didn’t like the band and weren’t too stoked on covering it, so we didn’t do it. So it’s been an idea for a long time that we have finally gotten around to doing it. We’ve been really big fans of Disincarnate since they started. If you listen to all of our records, you can hear that we are big James Murphy fans. It was more of a fan thing again and wanting to put our own touch on it.
Dead Rhetoric: There’s a lot of death metal bands that display old school influences out there. What do you feel has allowed Skeletal Remains to stand out?
Monroy: I think our style, with these new wave of old school worshipping bands – don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of really awesome ones but many tend to sound a lot like each other. Especially the ones that focus on really simple riffs. We like to be more complex with our stuff, and take influence from bands like Morbid Angel and Monstrosity. And obviously Death. Our musicianship is a bit different from those types of bands, which I think helps us to stand out more.
I feel like we tend to sound different from many of these newer bands coming out. Like there’s this one band with four members, and each of those members has another band that sounds exactly like that one. It’s kind of like a tree of bands that release one demo and an album and they start another band that sounds exactly like that one. Why not just focus on one band and keep that one going? I tend to see a lot of that. There are some that are fucking awesome and I really enjoy them, but some of them sound too similar to each other. I think we go for a different style of death metal where there is more thought in the riffs and it’s more complex and technical. In terms of the old school death metal sound that is.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s key in making something sound heavy, yet still attractive to someone not interested in being too techy?
Monroy: When we write riffs, what we try to do is come up with something catchy and stick in someone’s ear. I don’t know, it’s kind of the way that music comes out when we write. If the riff doesn’t work we throw it away, but I never really thought about it too much. I guess it comes down to our influences, which are on the more technical and more extreme, like later Morbid Angel, the Steve Tucker era. There’s some Deicide influences too. We stay on the more heavy side for the most part.
Dead Rhetoric: What have you learned while being out on the road as a band?
Monroy: We have learned a lot. Our first tour was in a van and it was summer with no A/C in it. It was fucking hot! It went from a pretty shitty experience like that to touring on a bus and having our own bunk. We learned a lot of stuff, such as taking baby wipes. You won’t shower every day, that’s for sure. We always try to take things like that. Staying hydrated and not partying all the time. Small stuff like that. Trying to be as professional as possible. When we started, we were young so we wanted to party more. It’s fun, but you have to be professional too.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel makes death metal timeless?
Monroy: I guess the music itself and the vibe. All of those records that came out in the ‘90s and 2000s are timeless, like you said. All the musicians back then were so ahead of their time. Newer tech death bands are doing this style that was still being done back then. Like Pestilence, or Gorguts’ Obscura record. That record was so ahead of its time. No one was doing that back then. All of these bands are doing it now – back when Obscura came out it wasn’t received well because it was so different. Nowadays, if you sound like that record, people are really stoked on it. It had to do with being great musicians and being ahead of the time writing killer music.
Dead Rhetoric: What hopes do you have for death metal’s future?
Monroy: I’m pretty sure it will never stop. Even when it was pretty dead, there were still bands doing it. Now, it seems to be more popular than it used to be, a few years ago. Especially the old school death metal. There’s bands coming out like every week doing this style. I hope it still keeps going and we are a part of it for the next like 20 years. Hopefully we are able play shows again soon – that’s what I’m looking forward to doing.
Dead Rhetoric: Being that we are in this situation at the moment do you have any plans once the album is released?
Monroy: We already have plans for 2021, since most of our 2020 stuff got moved there. We are hoping most of that stuff happens. That’s pretty much it. After the record comes out, we are going to tour as much as possible. Hopefully we get out there soon. I think our last show was in February. It feels like it was 5 years ago! But I’m looking forward to that and getting out there as soon as possible. Have some beers with fans, and all that good stuff!