Its Obituary doing what Obituary do best
Having created a career from eschewing any technical or contemporary aspects of death metal in favour of primitive grooves and brutality, Obituary have inhabited a unique if somewhat uninspired corner of the scene for over three decades. However, the razor-sharp riffing and scathing fury of album openers “Brave” and “Sentence Day” show that there is more to the band than just straight forward, four to the floor grooves. The addition of Ken Andrews’ blistering lead guitars and harmonies adds a level of class and quality that some of Obituary’s latter-day works have been lacking, particularly when he indulges in dual harmonies on “Sentence Day”.
Unfortunately it would appear that the first two songs are a red herring, as all too quickly the band lock into their distinct brand of mid-tempo death metal stomping, which doesn’t deviate all that much across the course of the remaining eight tracks. The band certainly know how to craft crusty, old-school death metal jams at ease, and the occasional injection of pace provides some much-needed energy to proceedings- the flailing riff of “End It Now” recalls the band at their thrash-fuelled best. Whilst John Tardy does his best to summon some of the gnarliest vocals and tortured wails of any death metal vocalist, it’s a shame how the musical canvas he has to work with can often come across as being tepid and dull, especially when thing slow down and the rhythms become far simpler.
Ordinarily this would be considered standard for an Obituary album- any listener should expect a no frills, stripped down take on death metal from these Floridian stalwarts. Sadly, this mindset doesn’t lend itself to the album format, particularly with the last three songs on the album, which take a laboured trudge through tired guitar work and uninteresting rhythms. This could have been a real triumph for the band; John Tardy is on impeccable form, Ken Andrews has added some colour and vitality to the band’s sound, and the production has kept the instrumentation from sounding flat and lacklustre. With all this going for them you’d hope that this would make their self-titled tenth album an absolute banger, yet Obituary is undone by a lack of exciting ideas or any real invention. Perhaps incorporating the doomy and sludgy sounds of bands like Crowbar and Cathedral, along with some properly mosh-worthy riffs, could really enliven their sound and add an extra dimension to their style that is sorely missing.
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