Obituary – Dying of Everything Review

Obituary are one of those death metal legends with a capital L. Their early releases like Slowly We Rot and Cause of Death helped shape the fledgling genre and send it into darker more extreme places. John Tardy’s one-of-a-kind anguished wails/shouts/roars set the template for a generation of death metal frontmen and their legacy is an important one. That all being said, much of what Obituary did after those initial groundbreaking releases has been uninspired and ham-fisted. As much as I love their classic era, I’ve struggled to care about much of what they’ve done since, and albums like Back from the Dead, Frozen in Time and Inked in Blood were simply not very interesting. 2017s self-titled outing felt a bit more lively, but was still hit or miss, but the early buzz for 11th album, Dying of Everything gave me hope for something better after a 5-year hiatus. Well, I’ve had the album for a while now, and as much as it pains me to say it, it’s another example of modern-day Obituary doing what Obituary does. You get a few endearing doses of primitive caveman death and a lot of something else.

Dying for Everything certainly kicks off with a bang on the riotous and righteous onslaught of “Barely Alive.” It’s vintage Obituary and a bunker-busting old school death blast in the classic 80s template, sounding like it should have been on their grisly debut. The thrashing, bashing riffs and in-your-face energy make it a horrid delight and get you hoping for an unholy rebirth. Lead single “The Wrong Time” follows up with a bruising, extra-heavy, and ever so slightly modern take on the band’s core style and it’s just different enough from what you’d expect to sound exciting and fresh. The relentless riffs almost feel industrial and there’s a mammoth heft to it all that works.

From there, however, things start to slip and stumble into less savory territories. Good moments like the title track and “My Will to Live” are set adrift amongst troubled selections where the band’s penchant for taking the most bare-bones riff possible and shellacking you with it for 4-5 minutes simply doesn’t hold up. “War” is a total mess of stock standard death riffs repeated unto madness and supported by a wash of annoying vocal effects. It’s numbing by the third minute but stretches to four. Numbers like “Without a Conscience” and “Weaponize the Hate” have a decent core but get overwhelmed by overly rudimentary, rote riffage. When the smoke clears, the final tally is basically one half of a good album and a collection of okay and less okay runners-up. That’s disappointing since the quality moments show the band still have it in them to do the job. This is a lot like the second release from Inhuman Condition in that it feels incomplete, which is puzzling given the time frame for writing the band had. The stark paucity of creativity in the riffing and song structures weighs on you and by the halfway point of the album’s 45 minutes, you’ll feel like you’ve had enough. By the time you get to the band’s take on doom death on closer “Be Warned,” it’s hard to care that it’s something a bit different.

This all seems extra unfortunate considering three original members are on board and supported by death luminary Terry Butler (Inhuman Condition, ex-Death, ex-Massacre, ex-Six Feet Under). As central to the band’s sound as founding axe Trevor Peres was, these days he seems extra-intent on crafting super simple riffs and riding them until the cows come home. This dogmatic approach hurts otherwise decent cuts like “Torn Apart” and makes the album a groove-heavy slog. The bright spot is John Tardy who sounds as monstrous as he did in the old days. He’s one of the best death vocalists of all time and he does all he can to buoy the songs. He’s all too often fighting a losing battle, but even on the lesser tracks, his presence is a boon.

Dying of Everything is another predictable Obituary release finding the band holding firm to their standard conventions. This results in one-half of a fun album for fans of OSDM. The good stuff is surprisingly good and the lesser stuff isn’t awful but feels tepid and uninspired. And maybe that’s good enough for a legendary death metal pioneer like Obituary after 30-plus years in the trenches. Maybe not though. Come dig up the best bits and then fill the grave back in. We’ll do this again in a few years.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: NA | Format Reviewed: Stream Only
Label: Relapse
Websites: | |
Releases Worldwide: January 13th, 2023

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