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OBITUARY Obituary

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Friday, March 17, 2017 @ 12:21 AM


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OBITUARY
Obituary

Relapse Records




Darkest Day was an unfortunately apt title for the eighth album from Florida death metal titans OBITUARY. At the time, 2009, it seemed that the band’s highly anticipated return had hit something of dead end after just six years. The quintet was dropped by Roadrunner Records after 2005’s reunion album Frozen In Time and picked up by the smaller, less resourceful Candlelight Records for its two follow-ups, including Darkest Day, which limited its visibility.

At the same time, there was lineup instability at the lead guitar and bass positions and the band’s music was becoming somewhat leaden and lackluster. By 2010, OBITUARY was a free agent again. And that may well have been just the kick in the ass the band needed.

The crowd-funding campaign that financed 2014's Inked In Blood, and the addition of ex-DEATH/MASSACRE/SIX FEET UNDER bassist Terry Butler and lead guitarist Kenny Andrews, brought renewed enthusiasm and spunk to the OBITUARY camp. The quintet went back to basics, revved up the engines and delivered its liveliest album in years with Inked.

That carries over to OBITUARY's even more explosive self-titled 10th album, which was teased in October with the mega “single” “Ten Thousand Ways To Die" that included another new song, "Loathe" - which is not on the album - and 45 minutes of live material spanning the band's long career. Obituary, the album, hits the gas right out of the gate with the back-to-back barnstormers "Brave" and "Sentence Day" with their breakneck pace and snarling riffs. The intensity remains at a steady simmer much of the rest of the way.

There's not much of the drone and slog that typified Xecutioner's Return or Darkest Day here, and I can't say I really miss it. "Turned To Stone" has that same sort of creepy-crawl pace, but frontman John Tardy's legendarily imposing, and occasionally terrifying, roar and the crunching grooves of Trevor Peres and Andrews keep any dreariness at bay – as does the jaunty lead break that caps it off. Same goes for "Straight To Hell", only with a bit more swampy Southern plod.

After the bracing start, "Lesson In Vengeance" down-shifts to a chugging jog that is then mixed with a steady gallop to start and finish "End It Now". Drummer Donald Tardy kicks up the double-bass clatter for the fearsome "Kneel Before Me", the frisky bounce of "Betrayed" and "It Lives" - which seems like a truncated, revved up retooling of the aforementioned "Loathe".

After keeping a relatively low profile on Inked, Andrews has much more of a genuine lead guitar presence here and makes the most of the opportunity with nifty, nimble solos throughout. "Sentence Day", in fact, teems with leads and tradeoffs, showing more flash than the usually unassuming band has offered since James Murphy’s crafty solo work on Cause Of Death.

Obituary is a punchy, exhilarating, lean and mean 33 minutes with an infectious raw energy, swagger and hunger that is as is genuine now as it was on Cause Of Death or The End Complete way back when. It’s encouraging to see a band with the distinguished – even groundbreaking - history of OBITUARY showing this kind of new life after nearly 30 years in the game – especially since its post-hiatus “second life” seemed to be on the wane not that long ago. And it bodes well for even better days ahead.

4.5 Out Of 5.0

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