A new laboratory of lethal germs has been opened.
Opinions may vary as to which subset of American death metal is the sickest, with a convincing case being made that the New York area brutality of outfits like Immolation and Suffocation can claim the crown, but when it comes to that distinct, old school blend of raw morbidity and violence that first codified the sub-genre, all roads lead to Florida. Perhaps it was something in the humid, gator-infested swamps that inspired some of said state’s residents to take the early strides of extreme Bay Area pioneers Possessed and Slayer and ferment it into a variant of moonshine so potent that it needed its own separate classification. Either way, as early as the mid-1980s a small collective of thrash metal outfits were inspired to further push the existing boundaries of sonic aggression, and among them was arguably the most straightforward expression of this then novel metallic subset in Obituary, originally under the moniker of Executioner. Their 1989 debut “Slowly We Rot” and its near equally iconic 1990 follow up “Cause Of Death” have since become highly respected staples of the genre, and though many would argue that their subsequent efforts have not quite reached the same heights, they’ve been a marvel of qualitative consistency in the years ever since.
With the 2020s now in full swing and the recent aftermath of 2 years of worldwide cabin fever still being felt by the concert-going public, this quintet’s 11th and latest studio LP “Dying Of Everything” is the perfect summation of what had recently come to pass in both musical and lyrical terms, not to mention a formidable auditory beat down in 10 parts. Lead by iconic front man and stylistic missing link between the harrowing persona of Jeff Beccera and the ghoulish depths of Chris Barnes, namely John Tardy, Obituary takes the concept of getting back to basics to a whole new level. Still maintaining an strong stylistic adjacency with their thrash roots, most of what unfolds is an exercise in high impact yet symmetrically structured violence, bolstered by a thunderous yet disciplined showing by brother, co-founder and drummer Donald Tardy and the steady bottom end of ex-Death bassist Terry Butler. However, what truly makes this outfit’s brand of graveyard-dwelling grooves gel is the guitar work, and between the bone-rattling riff work of longtime rhythm guitarist Trevor Peres and the intermitted six-string gymnastics of lead axe-man Kenny Andrews, a chord is struck that rings dangerously close to the greatness that was originally achieved by this fold at the dawn of the 1990s.
At each point, what unfolds is an exercise in not messing with a winning formula yet somehow amplifying it to new heights, to the point where one might say that Obituary embodies the famous quote of the android Ash about the purity and simplicity of the Xenomorph in Ridley Scott’s Alien. The opening foray of thrash-infused fury “Barely Alive” strikes an immediate tone of horror after the vintage stylings of Slayer, complete with Andrews’ flashy guitar leads embodying that same blend of chaotic noise and virtuosic flair that splits the difference between Kerry King and former Obituary and Death shredder James Murphy. The similarly frenetic character of the title anthem “Dying Of Everything” and the double kick-steeped murkiness of “Weaponize The Hate” and “By The Dawn” follow suit with a blend of fast-paced drumming, pummeling guitar lines cloaked in an utterly dank tone, wildly expressive solo passages and John Tardy standing above the whole fray with his maddened ravings that could be likened to a semi-ghoulish preacher shouting sermons to a moshing, undead audience. Other standout moments that take things in a more mid-paced tempo without skipping up on the ferocity include the thudding stomp of “The Wrong Time” and the dissonant groove of “My Will To Live”, though honestly, every single entry in this collection is a certified banger.
While Obituary was never really gone from the scene, this towering entry to their highly expansive catalog could be treated as a comeback, both in the sense that it’s the first mighty blast of death metal brilliance to spring from their arsenal since their 2017 eponymous 10th LP, and also because its among the most impressive studio feats they’ve fielded in quite a while. Between the vivid atmospheric tone that is struck via the faithfulness to old school practices put forth by prolific engineer and the more modernly minded Joe Cincotta, and standout performances by every part of this 5-piece Florida juggernaut, there’s a solid case to be made that “Dying Of Everything” is up there with the certified classics that originally kicked off Obituary’s career during the early heyday of death metal. If nothing else, it is the most formidable entry from them since the towering monument of brutality with a highly technical gloss that was 2007’s “Xecutioner’s Return,” no small feat for de facto new guy Kenny Andrews given that said album enjoyed the one-off services of shred icon Ralph Santolla (R.I.P.). If old fashioned brutality with an eye for musicality and accessibility is one’s poison, this might well be the ideal fatal dose to swallow in 2023, no small feat given how early in the game it is.
Pre-order “Dying of Everything” HERE.
Released By: Relapse Records
Release Date: January 13th, 2023
Genre: Death Metal
- John Tardy / Vocals
- Donal Tardy / Drums
- Trevor Perez / Guitars
- Terry Butler / Bass
- Kenny Andrews / Guitars
“Dying Of Everything” track-listing:
1. Barely Alive
2. The Wrong Time
3. Without a Conscience
5. Dying of Everything
6. My Will To Live
7. By the Dawn
8. Weaponize the Hate
9. Torn Apart
Florida death metal trailblazers and prognosticators of all things moribund Obituary draw from the deepest part of their decrepit well of ideas and dredge up the most formidable collection of brutal anthems in over a decade, aptly dubbed Dying Of Everything