Much as I discovered in the process of reviewing Cannibal Corpse‘s last splatter platter after a long absence from the scene due to car accidents, divorce, unexpected children, custody court, and an ex-wife that deserved treatment based on some Cannibal song titles, it seems Obituary ain’t as hip to some folks as they once were. With a career as long as that run-on sentence, a band can be expected to have more ups and downs than a $5 hooker on a Friday and many that go the Forrest Gump distance will fall into more than a few potholes. While Obituary never shit the bed, they’ve certainly tread their fair share of water in the middle years. I’m always confused when a band releases an eponymous album late in their career. Are they are declaring this their definitive release or is it due to a lack of inspiration? If the latter, does that void of creativity spill over into the music or is this, indeed, a mortuary slab so monumental they couldn’t name it anything else?1

That depends on which songs you judge it by. Opener “Brave” is a speedy little ditty with some surprisingly cheeky guitar melodies. The result is the least I’ve felt like killing myself and the most I’ve felt like going for a hesitant, obligatory middle age run after hearing an Obituary song. Throughout I kept waiting for their trademark breakdown where they take Celtic Frost and throw in some Metamucil and black coffee, but it never came. “Sentence Day,” is another quick pounding, capping off a refreshing one-two combo right out of the gate. It’s not until “Lesson in Vengeance” that things slow down with Tardy articulating like a pundit at the podium straight out of The King’s Speech. I had always kind of assumed he came into Florida from Cuba so it made sense that we had no idea what the fuck the man was growling about. He gargles out the grime but still manages to hold on to his nauseous gnarl. Unfortunately, his decipherable delivery is the most remarkable thing about this otherwise workmanlike song.

As new blood Lord Lucan pointed out in his review of Six Feet Under‘s Torment and our liege lord Steel Druhm indicated many painful times before, sometimes our heroes fall and fall hard. Chris Barnes has become the poster boy for legalization of marijuana, and also a mush mouthed motherfucker who sounds like a grizzly bear with a bad case of thrush, thereby unintentionally spurring the formation of the “Smoking Pot 24:20/7 Will Either Destroy Your Fucking Voice or Make You So Apathetic You Just Say, ‘Fuck It, Good Enough’ With Takes’ International Organization.” Or, as it is known to the layperson, “SPWEDYFVMYSAYJSFIGEWTIO,” which is about as decipherable as Barnes’s lyrics have been the past decade and Tardy’s for much of his tenure. Unlike Barnes, Tardy has retained his edge over the decades like a death metal Pavarotti. By that I don’t mean he’s Italian, fat, or dead. Rather, he has a voice so distinct that you immediately know it’s him. While he has refined his delivery and you can now understand at least 60% of what he says, the downside of being able to understand the lyrics is the realization how banal some of them are. “End It Now,” is particularly mind-numbing despite a monstrously massive middle section, with a whopping baker’s dozen words repeated ad nauseam.

Any creative process draws from a well and at times that well can run light. I can attest to that as a so-called writer. Obituary can still produce vital material as evidenced by “Straight To Hell.” A mid-paced chug comprises the first minute and a half and then things grind to a slow, suffocating sludge before a tastefully sparse and wank-free solo bleeds out all over the floor. The band then reprises the opening riff before launching into a breakdown right out of “The End Complete.” Unfortunately the four songs previous making up the middle stretch of this album fall into a rut, cruising down familiar roads and barely breaking school zone speed limits with the exception of the solo section in “Turned To Stone.” “Ten Thousand Ways To Die” off last year’s combination EP/live release ends things on a low note, and I don’t mean the D tuning. Three vocal lines are repeated over and over for the first two minutes. Throughout the band maintains the mid-pace to the point that I feel like Peter Gibbons trying to get to Initech by the time it’s over.

Death metal has been done to death and since Obituary are pioneers of the genre, they may have the right to be derivative of themselves, but ten albums in, some fresh air would do this rotting corpse well.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Relapse Records
Websites: obituary.bandcamp.com | obituary.cc | facebook.com/obituaryband
Releases Worldwide: March 17th, 2017

Show 1 footnote

  1. How about Slabitrail? – Steel Druhm.
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  • Roquentin

    I usually dig your taste, but this time I don’t agree at all. Loved the album.

    • Felchmeister777

      Yeah but a critic has to inject some degree of objectivity into their reviews.

      I quite like this album too, but c’mon, it’s about as generic as it gets. Pretty much any one of these tracks could have been lifted off CoD/End Complete.

      So, sounding identical to how you did 25 years ago, making songs that contain two or three ‘decent’ riffs per song…c’mon. This album is cool as a blast of nostalgia, but it’s not a great record…

      • Thanks Felchmeister. You hit the farty nail right on the head.

    • We can’t agree all the time. If we all did, this site would really suck!

  • Grymm

    I’m trying to find other bands who are part of the SPWEDYFVMYSAYJSFIGEWTIO Movement, and I’m drawing a blank at the moment.

    And good fucking god, everyone on my bus is staring at me as I’m laughing hysterically while reading this review. I think I’m gonna pass on this album, but damn, that was a great write-up.

    • Thanks Grymm!!

    • Stefano Kevin Prince Vitali

      The man whose sweaty back and man bun you’re watching right now was definitely a culprit, at least when playing live. The dude forgot half the lyrics of Sisters the last time I saw PoS due to being clearly stoned as fuck. He still managed to sound as raw and emotional as it gets, turning a shipwreck into something trascendent.

      • One of my favorite albums is Nevermore’s Dreaming Neon Black. I got tickets to see them with pre-female vocals Arch Enemy at a small club in NYC. Warrel Dane was so polluted drunk he could barely sing. I never forgave him. Not that he asked me to…

  • Westpaceagle

    I am exhausted by that review

    • Lucas Lex DeJong

      Same, but at least every awkward comment was rewarded by a self-referential payoff. “…a career as long as that run-on sentence” and “SPWEDYFVMYSAYJSFIGEWTIO,” which is about as decipherable as Barnes’s lyrics have been the past decade…”

      A+ for creativity, C+ for execution.

    • It was equally exhausting to write!

    • De2013

      Loved it. “and throw in some Metamucil and black coffee”

  • Schmitzel

    I wasn’t really planning on listening to this one, but thanks to you, it’s actually spinning right now …. Thanks, Al :P

    Slowly We Rot has been one of the first death metal albums I heard back in the early 90s so I have a lot of childhood memories tied to that one (feels wierd to type that out). Right now I’m firmly convinced these guys are meant to be heard live. They absolutely crush it, and since you mentioned Tardy’s vocals, it’s a thing to behold in concerts.

  • herrschobel

    they still have the prettiest hair in the Game ! i like the record so far….great guitar tone and man the vocals..rrrrrrrrrrrrrraw..great write up as well..

  • defjam

    I liked your review but I also like this record. If only the solos were of the sinister type befitting this music (oh James Murphy, where art thou?) it would be a 3.5 for me. Having been a fan since their debut, listening to Obituary (even at their lowest career point) is like catching up with a high school friend. Same jokes but always a very good time. And yes, they are monstrous live.

  • Norfair Legend

    Great review as usual but I will have to respectfully disagree. I’m having a blast with this album, they came back strong with Inked in Blood but it was missing a little something I just can’t put my finger on. This one nails it, far from perfect and not entirely on par with Slowly or Cause (but really how can you) but it definitely has the right sound and feel.

    A solid 4.0 for me.

    • Dcpret

      Second that

  • Macdaddy

    Straight To Hell is the best the rest is bad for my arthritis.

    Lamont: Pop i loved the album.

  • Metrognome26

    I’m on my first run through and I’m loving the album, but damned if that’s not one of the funniest and most well written reviews I’ve read in ages.

  • antitayyip

    sucks the fuck up

  • Excentric_13073

    I’ll admit, I never really “got” Obituary… Until I saw them live. They put out one hell of a show. The albums always seem to pale by comparison.

    • euthanatos

      my feelings exactly; I would listen and think “yeah, that’s cool”, but wasn’t particularly memorable.. until I saw them live. Holy shit, they are fantastic.

  • Apple Tree

    Bitter about divorce? Talkin about death metal? Is glen benton writing for AMG now?

  • Zach Ward

    I’ve never really given obituary much of a chance. What would be widely considered their best album??? Also thank you for talking more shit on Chris barnes. Whenever he is mentioned in a review in a negative manner it’s always a good review.

    • Matt Risnes

      I highly recommend The End Complete.

      • Felchmeister777

        Slowly/Cause/End Complete.

        Unequivocally…

        (Or…if you want to go further back still, try Celtic Frost) ;)

    • Tyr

      Slowly/Cause

    • herrschobel

      you gotta respect Chris Barnes for his persistence ! i demand it :-D

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      As if there were not enough recommendations for them, I have to say their first three albums are all great. Slowly We Rot, Cause Of Death and The End Complete. But begin with Cause Of Death, it is their absolute best.

      • Slowly We Rot is the bee’s knees!

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          Yet Cause of Death has one thing Slowly We Rot doesn’t have: James Murphy.

    • Reese Burns

      The End Complete is a great place to start. Another good suggestion is to listen to their rather lacklustre modern albums, then their classic stuff’ll seem almost perfect in comparison.

    • Slowly We Rot. Their only album in standard tuning but still the heaviest!!

  • Artander

    Was bored with Obituary lately, but this one reawakened my interest, went through the whole album without a skip and enjoyed every bit of it.

  • Tyr

    I’m going to have to disagree here also. This album is a solid 3.5 or 4.0 for me. This is the sound of a band who has rediscovered its fire. I haven’t heard them this fast since World Demise. Ever since the reunion it’s been one mid paced sludge fest after another. No dynamics, nothing interesting. Every album just felt dialed in. This has some actual speed on it. I’d put it, not up there with the first two but one small step behind it and many, many steps above anything else they’ve done post Demise.

  • Outlaw Josey Wales

    Yeah, shitty review – great album!

  • Wilhelm

    Dynamically speaking, the production isn’t bad on this, but man those first three albums sounded like they were recorded in the most dismal caves of hell, which is how Death Metal should sound. This just sounds too proper, too clean, and the drums are plastic sounding.

    Musically it’s pretty good, I might go see them live soon.

    • That is very much how I feel. Perhaps it was the times, but no albums sounded like the first few Obituary albums.

  • joanismylover

    Great opening paragraph. It’s the writing that keeps me coming back . . .

  • IBlackened

    Reviews like this are my favorite ones.

  • Gage

    Ah Obituary… the poor man’s Death

  • Bryan94

    Oh man, that Tardy vs. Barnes comparison litterally made me spit out my coffee…thanks for that….funny as hell :D

  • Alexandre Barata

    The album is cool, not something I would run up to the store to buy, but something I would appreciate if someone would gift it to me. If you took the hint please PM me for details

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    “A death metal Pavarotti”lol… Still plenty of water in the well Al :)

  • Marco Albright

    Haha what a crazy review, bit of a hard read but with a few lol moments.. the album is rock solid imo, best of ’17 so far
    It just has that “it” factor bleeding throughout 4.5/5

    • Best of ’17 so far? Immolation – Atonement

      • Marco Albright

        Immolations atonement is solid for sure but the new Obituary edges it out imo

      • I’m with you… Artificial Brain may give it a run for its money though.

  • Jeremy Freeman

    Hey at least it’s not the worst Death Metal album ever released. That belongs to the new Six Feet Under!! This just sounds like more Obituary with better guitar solos…which is fine by me. And as always GREAT production.

  • Jeremy Freeman

    Also just a not every other critic has given it either a 9 out of 10 or a 4 out of 5,Some even saying it’s their best yet. So I’d say this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about. As he didn’t with Jungle Rots-Order Shall Prevail which was one of my favorites last year!!

    • Hey, I didn’t review that Jungle Rot album. And a review is subjective. You can disagree but it can’t be wrong unless factually.

    • That said, I did review “Slaughter The Weak” back in 1998 and loved it! Keep in mind I was a much younger and less wordy man then.

      Jungle Rot – Slaughter the Weak (Pavement Music ’98)

      Rating: 8.5/10
      Tracks: Left For Dead, Gore Bag, Infectious, Demigorgon, Consumed In Darkness, Murder One, Butchering Death, World of Hate, Deadly Force, Darkness Foretold

      Well, shit. The band name and the titles of the songs say it all, don’t they? Jungle Rot embody the most barbaric elements of the death metal genre in a mesh of groove, slam and absolutely no blast beats! The songs are catchy, the lyrics relatively straightforward and over-the-top, the vocals deep (reminiscent of Johnny Hedlund of Unleashed), the music crushing. This is some absolutely no-bullshit straight up DEATH METAL. Nothing more, nothing less, and it is great to hear! Jungle Rot tear through the tunes herein like a grizzly bear on crack. Unstoppable, ferocious and deadly.

      Sure, Jungle Rot presents nothing revolutionary on Slaughter the Weak, but who cares?? Get the fuck out of their way or enjoy being pulverized! – Al Kikuras

  • Dead1

    Despite usually being the equivalent of the Christmas Grinch and slagging anything new, I actually disagree with this review.
    This album represents a real return to form for Obituary and they certainly mix it up style wise. Not much pure death metal here actually!
    And I’m not an Obituary fan either.

  • I appreciate how varied opinions are on this one and that so many disagree and are fighting the good fight. That’s what this site is all about. That said, if ‘End It Now’ and ‘Ten Thousand Ways to Die’ are good Obituary songs in your book, you need a new book.

  • I deeply appreciate the varied opinions on this album, an that those that disagreed are so adamant about their difference of agreement. That is what makes this site so great!!

  • Francesco Bordoni

    This is by far one of the most compelling and funny pieces of text I’ve read all year. Great review goddamit!

  • Mr. Jim

    What an Idiot. Obviously a millennial review. This album kicks ass!!!