Death metal writing, if such a genre even exists, is about as cliched as it gets, either writing directly to those that already know and love it or vainly trying to explain it to baffled outsiders. If you're in the former group, then Obituary indeed need no introduction, and this, their tenth full-length is a continuation of their classic Floridian sound. And for those new to the band, their unique mix of sludgy-toned guitar riffs and rotten snarled vocals has been highly influential since the band's roots in the mid-eighties. Obituary itself is a solid-to-excellent album that kicks a lot of ass, but is yet another album that lacks the otherworldly horror of the first two albums' atmosphere, meaning for many it will always be inferior to them.
And yet there's much to enjoy here, an album that is their best in years. Brave kicks the album off with gusto, that classic murky guitar tone and John Tardy's fiendish yelp present and correct, and Sentence Day throwing in plenty of excellent lead guitar from Kenny Andrews. The slower-paced A Lesson in Vengeance, the almost melodeath opening to End It Now - there's meat on the bone when you take time to chew. John Tardy himself sounds better than he has in years, throwing in some guttural growls here and there and obviously made an effort to put in a compelling, motivated performance. Some tracks here like Kneel Before Me and It Lives feel like they could have come from the Cause of Death sessions, so tightly-written and neck-snappingly awesome are they; the way Tardy's extended growls climb out of the speaker like a zombie from a grave in the latter especially gripping. Gripping! Who'd have thought we'd be saying that about Obituary in 2017?
Few death metal bands are as solid as these veterans. None are so capable of locking into a groove that is strangely catchy and heavy as a mountain at once - the riffs are practically simplistic when you actually focus on them, but something about the way the likes of Betrayed and Turned to Stone sledgehammer their way along is appealing on a primal level. There are even multiple false endings here, making the listen that little bit more unpredictable and interesting. Add to all this, of course, that unlike their peers Obituary have always seemed like a good bunch of guys, blue-collar and down-to-earth; not for them Deicide's Satanic unpleasantness, Morbid Angel's occult arrogance, or the video nasty made flesh that is Cannibal Corpse (and I love all of these bands). As music videos and their live reputation show, Obituary have a good time playing this music and hope you do listening to it, making me fond of them in a way that other death metallers don't earn. And although I'd dearly love another spooky classic like their early albums, that Obituary are this good ten albums in is cause for celebration.
Goat quoted 85 / 100
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