Perhaps the most fitting visual for the death metal sub-genre is the decrepit landscape of a massive cemetery, especially one located within a marshy landscape. However, even the most traditionally-minded adherents to the style have not been beyond delving into all things moribund from an abstract angle. As a band that traces their roots back to the primordial days of extreme metal circa the mid to late 1980s, and also one that briefly frolicked in the thrash scene before becoming one of the trailblazers of the pioneering Florida sound, Obituary is no stranger to stereotypical imagery of post-mortem visuals and sticking to the basics. In fact, when compared to their contemporaries they might be seen as the AC/DC of death metal given their straightforward and highly consistent presentation that, with the release of their latest studio album “Dying Of Everything”, now spans 11 LPs over a period of more than 30 years. But a closer look reveals a band that has been anything but oblivious to a changing world and has engaged in a very gradual yet purposeful stylistic evolution.
In contrast to the progressive musical strides of Chuck Schuldiner and the esoteric, occult-based lyrical ventures of Trey Azagthoth and the guys in Morbid Angel, Obituary’s craft could be best described as concrete and to the point. Naturally as a band that has previously employed the services of virtuoso guitar gods such as James Murphy and Ralph Santolla, they have not been wholly averse to spicing up their generally mid-paced grooves and up tempo, concise, thrash-infused anthems with a level of technical wizardry. Likewise, vocalist John Tardy brings a unique blend of harsh vocal techniques to the table that bear a closer resemblance to the intelligible shouts and gravely timbre of Lemmy Kilmister and Jeff Becerra than what typifies the modern brutal approach, but is quite ferocious by today’s standards. Yet when one notes the band’s generally symmetrical and simplistic approach to song structure and the brevity of their compositions, a bridge from the early days of the style to the mid-90s death ‘n’ roll craze spearheaded by Entombed and Six Feet Under becomes immediately apparent.
But when all elements are properly considered, the Obituary sound can’t be described any other way that as death metal, pure and simple. One could even go so far as to state that their early ventures “Slowly We Rot” and “Cause Of Death” share an equal footing with “Scream Bloody Gore”, “Seven Churches,” “Altars Of Madness” or any other late 80s/early 90s staple in codifying the style. Likewise, their subsequent commercial breakthrough in 1992’s “The End Complete” played a substantial role in bringing death metal to its place of popular prominence, perhaps even paving the way for Cannibal Corpse’s auspicious appearance in the 1994 classic comedy flick Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. And one would likewise be remiss to dismiss their later works, including their triumphant mid-2000s return LP Frozen In Time, which birthed their obligatory live overture “Redneck Stomp”, to speak nothing for the brilliant collaboration with the aforementioned shred icon and Deicide guitarist Ralph Santolla on 2007’s “Xecutioner’s Return” and 2009’s “Darkest Day.”
The present has seen this prime mover of the Florida scene continuing to break new ground in search of more cadavers, with the addition of lead guitarist Kenny Andrews and former Death bassist Terry Butler rounding out the latest lineup that has since inked the band’s 2010s material in “Inked In Blood” and their 2017 eponymous album respectively. Sonic Perspectives associate Jonathan Smith was able to catch up with the man who has provided the foundation of this colossal death metal institution, namely drummer and co-founder Donald Tardy, to discuss the band’s origin, their progression over the years, and what lays ahead on the live circuit as they wind down their European tour with Trivium, Heaven Shall Burn and Malevolence. He would prove a veritable wellspring of background information about how Obituary grew from a group of teenagers playing at parties in Florida to one of the top-selling acts in the sub-genre, as well as provide some insights into how their latest LP “Dying Of Everything” came into being, and where it stands within their massive body of work. For more interviews and other daily content, make sure to follow Sonic Perspectives on Facebook, Flipboard and Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified about new interviews and contents we publish on a daily basis.
OBITUARY will embark on a North American tour in the spring. The trek, which will feature support from IMMOLATION, BLOOD INCANTATION and INGROWN, will kick off on April 28 and end in late May. Tickets go on sale on Friday, January 27 at 10:00 a.m. local time. Tickets will be available HERE.
OBITUARY Tour Dates (with IMMOLATION, BLOOD INCANTATION and INGROWN):
Apr 28 – Charlotte, NC @ The Underground
Apr 29 – Virginia Beach, VA @ Elevation 27
May 01 – Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Soundstage
May 02 – Philadelphia, PA @ Brooklyn Bowl
May 04 – New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
May 05 – Boston, MA @ The Middle East
May 06 – Montreal, QC @ Theatre Fairmount
May 07 – Toronto, ON @ The Phoenix Concert Theatre
May 09 – Chicago, IL @ Metro
May 10 – Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line
May 11 – Omaha, NE @ The Waiting Room *
May 12 – Englewood, CO @ Gothic Theatre *
May 13 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex
May 15 – Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
May 16 – Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre
May 18 – Berkley, CA @ UC Theatre
May 19 – Los Angeles, CA @ Fonda Theatre
May 20 – Mesa, AZ @ Nile Theater
May 22 – Austin, TX @ Mohawk
May 23 – Dallas, TX @ Granada Theatre
May 24 – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall
May 26 – St. Louis, MO @ Red Flag
May 28 – Louisville, KY @ Headliner Music Hall
* No IMMOLATION
OBITUARY released its latest studio album, “Dying Of Everything”, on January 13 via Relapse Records. Order it HERE.