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Vital Remains during concert in MegaClub, Katowice, Poland 2007. From left to right:Tony Lazaro, Damien Boynton, Antonio Donadeo, Brian Hobbie, Dave Suzuki
|Origin||Providence, Rhode Island, United States|
Formation and early years
Guitarist Paul Flynn formed Vital Remains in 1988. Vital Remains' first line-up included Paul Flynn on lead guitar, Butch Machado on rhythm guitar, vocalist Mike Flynn, bassist Tom Supkow and drummer Chris Dupont. Mike Flynn is credited with coining the band's name. Paul soon revamped the band with musicians that fit his vision, and added Tony Lazaro and vocalist Jeff Gruslin to the line-up. Lazaro and Flynn shared the song writing duties, and released a pair of demos (1989's Reduced to Ashes and 1990's Excruciating Pain). The band secured a contract with French label Thrash Records, and released the single "The Black Mass" in 1991. Shortly after the release, the band signed to Peaceville's subsidiary label, Deaf Records. Vital Remains released Let Us Pray in 1992, as well as Into Cold Darkness in 1995. However, the band requested contract dissolution with Deaf Records, citing poor distribution, and a lack of promotion. In 1996, Dave Suzuki joined the band, initially playing drums. Suzuki eventually contributed guitar work, as the band worked on their next album. In mid 1997, Vital Remains signed a two-album deal with Osmose Records. Paul Flynn left the band, citing family obligations. The band released Forever Underground in 1997. Chris Ross from Cape Cod joined the band as the vocalist and Metal Maniacs said "that no band on the planet put on a headbanging show of satanic fury than Vital Remains." The band released Dawn of the Apocalypse in 2000, which featured vocalist Thorn. The album debuted a new, heavier style. Thorn quit the band in 1999.
Glen Benton era
In 2003, Glen Benton, vocalist/bassist of Deicide joined Vital Remains as a session vocalist for Vital Remains' fifth album Dechristianize. The album received critical acclaim, and the band toured in-between Deicide's touring schedule. The band followed up with Icons of Evil in 2007, which also featured Glen Benton as a session vocalist and continued the same musical style as Dechristianize. Vital Remains also released their first live DVD, Evil-Death-Live, through Polish label Metal Mind Productions. Dave Suzuki left the band, shortly after the release of Icons of Evil.
Recent activity and vocalists' deaths
Vital Remains continued touring, but experienced frequent lineup changes. Tony Lazaro, bassist Gaeton "Gator" Collier and former Infernaeon vocalist Brian Werner are the band's most consistent members since 2012. Tony claimed in interviews during 2012-2013 that he has "two albums worth of material."
In late 2014 and early 2015, the band added drummer James Payne (ex Hour of Penance), and Toronto-based Dean Arnold (of Primal Frost) as lead guitarist. Vital Remains toured South America, Europe and the United States in 2015. In November 2015, a Sanford Florida police officer was fired for singing "Let the Killing Begin" with the band, while he was on duty and in uniform. A video posted on YouTube shows Officer Andrew Ricks - in full uniform - making 'devil's horns' gesture and roaring the title words to the song.
Three of the band's former vocalists died between 2017 and 2018. On July 4, 2017, Chris Ross was fatally shot by his brother-in-law, James Ball. On November 2, 2017, Scott Wiley was reported dead with no cause of death revealed, followed by Jake Raymond on June 25, 2018.
On September 2, 2019, Brian Werner announced his decision to leave Vital Remains via his social media channels. The announcement was confirmed by the band on their Facebook and also opened an audition call for a live vocalist to join the band in their upcoming U.S. winter tour, and also stated their intention to finish and release their long-awaited seventh studio album in 2020. In October 31, 2019, the band announced on their Facebook that Scott Eames would be the band's new lead vocalist for their 30th anniversary tour.
Vital Remains earlier work had minor use of keyboards and ambient noise. After Forever Underground, they removed those elements for a purely death metal approach. Elements of their music that distinguish them in their genre are the use of acoustic Spanish-style solos and their construction of very long songs, which is uncommon in the majority of death metal music. Many of the songs on more recent releases approach eight or nine minutes in length. With the addition of Dave Suzuki to the band, the lead guitar work took a much more prominent place within song structure. He also chose to employ a neoclassical style of soloing.
Former live members
- Let Us Pray (1992)
- Into Cold Darkness (1995)
- Forever Underground (1997)
- Dawn of the Apocalypse (2000)
- Dechristianize (2003)
- Icons of Evil (2007)
- Evil Death Live (2007)
- The Black Mass (1991)
- Horrors of Hell (2006)
- Reduced to Ashes (1989)
- Excruciating Pain (1990)
- According to an interview with former bassist/vocalist Joe Lewis, Vital Remains started in 1988 as a "blackened death metal band" and stated that the band formed "when Tony and Jeff got into a fight with some other musicians at a local metal gig and it turned out that the guys they were going to fight were Paul Flynn and his friends.. and instead of beating each other to a pulp they decided to create a band together as Vital Remains.. and the rest is history!"
- "Interview with Tony Lazaro (Vital Remains)". YouTube. 2012-03-08. Retrieved 2020-04-02.
- "Vital Remains: 16 Songs Written For Next Album - Blabbermouth.net". Web.archive.org. 25 December 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
- "'Death Metal Cop' Had Violated Other Policies Before Being Relieved Of His Duties, Says Police Chief - Blabbermouth.net". Web.archive.org. 22 November 2015. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
- "Man shot dead in Cicero remembered for helping others, but also having struggles". Syracuse.com. July 7, 2017. Retrieved June 26, 2018.
- "Ex-Vital Remains Vocalist Scott Willey Passes Away | Theprp.com". Web.archive.org. 3 November 2017. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
- "Ex-Vital Remains Vocalist Jake Raymond Has Passed Away". ThePRP. June 26, 2018. Retrieved June 26, 2018.
- "Brian Werner on Instagram: "I have officially resigned from Vital Remains today. #brianwerner #vitalremains #deathmetal #tourlife #picoftheday #instahell #livemusic…"". Instagram.com. Retrieved 2020-04-02.
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