posted on 7/2012 By:
Skeletal Vortex was originally released on Unmatched Brutality Records four years ago, which is right around the time Suture split up. But now both the band and the record are back again, the latter remixed and remastered and reissued by Soulflesh Collector. It’s an interesting chronology, really, and one I’ve never encountered before – most bands don't follow the career path of release album, break up, reform, release same album again – but regardless of their sudden shift into a backwards time-warp, Suture's brand of bashing is impressive, and for the benefit of those who didn’t catch the record the first time around (which I’m sure is a good many of us), Vortex Version 2.0 is certainly worth the second attempt.
Going into this, given the medical connotations of the band’s name, I must admit that I blithely assumed Suture would utilize a more gore-metal approach, some kind of Carcass-leaning slicing and growling bloodiness, but Skeletal Vortex is not that. Instead, it’s straightforward modern death metal with a definite Floridian bent, replete with the early-90s requisite ominous ambient intro (conveniently titled “Ominous”). All the expected influences are present, the Deicides and Malevolent Creations and the like – Suture doesn’t expand the envelope stylistically, but Skeletal Vortex is performed with such intensity that it feels invigorated and energetic. The riffs are underpinned with just enough malevolent melody to make them memorable as they’re lurching and churning atop the blast-happy drumming. The vocals are certainly a serviceable series of guttural growls, even if they’re a bit by the book, but Suture’s strength is not in the voice, but in the solidity of the riffs and the song construction. The former mostly rip as they twist and turn, ever the highlight of the nine actual tunes, and the tracks are stitched together with skill, arranged in such a manner that those riffs shine quite well.
I must concede that I didn’t hear the original version of Vortex, so I can’t comment on any changes in sound quality, but I can say that this latest volume of Vortex sounds great. The production is crisp and clear, punchy and direct without being slick, and the guitars especially benefit from a sharp tone. The sound is dense and yet not a wall-of-sound, so the instruments have enough room to breathe within the brutality. The songs cut from one to the next with only a beat between, so there’s often a bit of a snag in distinguishing one track from another, especially given the Vortex’s propensity toward blasting tempos and “riff-salad” structures, but that complaint is easily overlooked in the overall scheme of things.
Suture won’t win any wars by virtue of originality. They operate well within the confines of death metal’s constraints. But within those constraints, they do operate well, so they’re winning the battle of simple enjoyability, which is enough for me. Skeletal Vortex isn’t groundbreaking; it’s neither the best death metal album of 2008 or 2012, but it’s a fun one in either year and definitely worth a listen now that it’s come back around again.
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