ALBUM REVIEW: OBITUARY - DYING OF EVERYTHING
DEATH METAL GRAND DADDIES WITH NO FRILLS ATTACHED
The grand daddies of death are causing an online kafuffle. Almost everyone (aside from right-minded normal civilians) knows that Obituary are death metal grandees partly responsible for starting it all a long time ago. Indubitably they are DM top-tier and it was their early releases Slowly We Rot (1989), Cause of Death (1990) and The End Complete (1992) that lay the foundation (tomb) stones for over 30 years of screaming bloody gore.
So what is the craic? Well, Obituary play in a fairly predictable yet distinctive way and have done so for a long time. Their trademark uncomplicated caveman death metal is far from the technical or experimental elements of the scene but has been the secure cornerstone of their careers for decades. This is a band that is not about artiness but attitude; think AC/DC or Motorhead – you know what to expect and the band knows you do.
So far, so uncontroversial. Why, then, is their latest album Dying of Everything provoking divisive online reactions? Well, see above. That’s right, this is an Obituary album and, as such, everyone guessed what it would sound like. Generally, criticism follows the narrative that Obituary’s early albums are their best but almost everything that followed was only good, boring, plodding or OK. Dying of Everything seems to have attracted both praise for a back-to-basics, carefree spirit but conversely criticism for being an indolent re-hash.
If you don’t fret about a 30 year backstory and just listen to the first song Buried Alive Obituary are clearly pumped and belligerent. It’s a thumping, simplistic banger – notably high-tempo for this band - with clanky engine like riffs and no-frills pounding rhythm backing. A winning start, then, followed by The Wrong Time with its cyclical groove riffs that are essentially the lynchpin of the entire track. Obituary have always favoured decidedly mid-paced gears and slower tracks like Without A Conscience or the purposeful headbanger War utilise the same formula: wide open chunky grooves that are big but not clever used as a core of each track. Obituary are not ones to over-dress and the riffs are addictive in their no-nonsense blasé. There is something gloriously affirming to behold gnarly fashion-immune veterans play in such a carefree zone. Plus there are thousands of DM vocalists but none sound quite like John Tardy. His idiosyncratic, otherworldly style mixes a kind of sarcastic, obnoxious drawl with a prehistoric large-mammal bellow. His lungs haven’t diminished with time and still loosens floor screws.
Admittedly, however, by the last third of the record the adrenalin has started to wear off a wee bit. The final furlong has a couple of tracks that, by lacking venom, sound almost workaday. That might pass in a Noel Gallagher record but it can castrate death metal. The material is not bad, but it does lag making it harder to defend criticisms of over-reliance on spin cycle riffs as by now there is a one-riff-for-one-song blueprint. The lurching, slimy fetid concluder Be Warned ends the album in subdued nastiness with chugging mendacity.
What Obituary do works for them. Dying of Everything is solid and seeps with attitude. The unscrambled nature is refreshing despite its familiarity. Yes, some tracks play the same riff just that bit too much and the songs end as they start with little in the way of development. But it can still disintegrate much modern competition who maybe focus too much on image and edgy prowess rather than the fundamentals.
Dying of Everything is released via Relapse Records and here is the bandcamp link: