Some things are absolutely certain. Not least of such eternal verities being that, Floridian death dealers Obituary, ten albums deep into a career as long as the genre they were instrumental in defining, will not care one jot what I, specifically, or Sentinel Daily, more generally, think or feel about their new self titled album.
Which you might think is just as it should be, although clearly the quickest way for an Empire to fall is for it to trample on the hopes and dreams of it’s citizens. Obituary are Gods of death metal. That is all that matters. Probably.
I’m indulging in this metaphysical musing because, really, there’s not much to say about the actual music on this record. The band kick off with two interchangeable uptempo bangers, Brave and Sentence Day, doubtless wishing to prove they can still kick up a circle pit or two, before giving us what we really want, which comes in the form of excellent third track Lesson in Vengeance. This is the sound of a band rather than a caricature, and it fucking kicks high quantities of arse as a result. Loping, doomy riffs and savage drumming provide the backdrop for some excellent soloing from Kenny Andrews, and this improvement is backed up by the supreme chug of End it Now, wherein John Tardy’s incomprehensible, diaphragm-battering roar transforms itself into intelligible nastiness and textbook death metal throat shredding brilliance. The sheer malevolence of Andrews and Trevor Peres’ riffage is a sheer joy to behold, and when Donald Tardy kicks off the double bass mid way through I won’t be surprised if you find yourself arcing across your living room floor in wild abandon.
And then… These templates are repeated to the end. Kneel Before me adds a nice Slayeresque feel to proceedings thanks to Andrews’ advanced Hanneman/King theatrics and the rhythm section getting all Hell Awaits for added shits n’giggles, It Lives might as well be called It Fills… the rest of the album, whilst never exactly running out of steam, seems to go meekly into the night acquiescent to the fact that there aren’t many ideas left in the locker. A Celtic Frost riff here, a dab more Slayer there, these little dribs n’drabs offer to brighten things up a little, but, aside from the weirdly poppy riff to Betrayed – it’ll make you stop and listen to the song if nothing else – there’s not a lot to dissect until final track Ten Thousand Ways to die, which, it has to be said, is utterly superb and entirely in the debt of Andrews, Who’s consummate solo at the end ensures that the band exit on a high.
Like I said, this is Obituary – they can pretty much do as they please. But is half a decent album good enough for a band of this skill and vintage? I’ll leave you to decide.
Obituary is out now on Relapse Records