All prepared to calculate your insurance risks!
*special introductory paragraph!
*Slowly We Rot
*Cause Of Death
*The End Complete
*World Demise
*Back From The Dead
*Frozen In Time
*Xecutioner's Return
*Darkest Day

Obituary is from Florida, where death happens because so many old people live there.

Slowly We Rot - RC 1989.
Rating = 7

Death metal! Heavy guitars! Ridiculously gruff shouted (or more like "phlegmed-up") vocals that are about fifty trillion times too loud in the mix! Slow parts interspersed with fast parts with no real congruity between the two! Lots of guitar solos! Evil song titles like "Internal Bleeding," "'Til Death," "Gates To Hell," "Suffocation," "Bloodsoaked" and...umm... "Stinkupuss"?

This is what death metal sounds like. Some of the parts are great little mean chord sequences. Other parts? Not as great, kinda predictable. By far the worst part is the vocals though. As in much death metal (and, quite frankly, much metal!), they ruin the fun of the cool evil music by just being laughably stupid. At least Obituary were silly enough to have the singer just say a bunch of nonsense, since that's all it would've sounded like anyway even if he'd bothered to write lyrics.

Reader Comments (Dave Whitman)
Ahh... the glory days of death metal in the early 90s. This was definitely one of my favves! I even based one of my art class drawings on the front cover of this here album! A rotting slimed up corpse in jeans and tee shir lying in the middle of the sidewalk. HAW! Everyone else turned in lush beautiful landscapes and forests.. and terrible me turned in something so hideously repulsive!

Erm.. well, about the album. I don't really listen to this stuff as much as i used to, but what really appealed to me back then was the sheer rawness and bestiality of the whole thing. John Tardy's vocalings, while totally incomprehenisble since he does make up a bunch of the words or growls, are straight from satan's sewage tunnel. And there is a nice change in speed with the songs.. fast ones, slow ones, mid tempo all accompanied by ghoulish fucking guitarwork, garlic hammer smashing on ur face sounding drums , and Tardy screaming for a blood flavored slushy. Yep! A classic death metal oldie if there ever was one. gawd.. death metal oldie? i'm getting old!!
I havn't listened to an Obituary album in about fifteen years, but I recall reading somewhere that John Tardy simply made up lyrics on the spot, at least on the early records. For example, during the title song on this album, I am almost positive that he sings, "Volleyball? Join me! Slowly We Rot," as the chorus. Perhaps that's why they don't publish the words; if you ask me, a lyrical invitation to play volleyball with Obituary would rank among Death Metal's greatest moments.
yes, i am also pretty sure the lyrics on Slowly We Rot are... "VOLLEYBALL! Join me, Slowly We ROT!"...

Hey, the Tampa Bay area (St. Pete/Clearwater) has some really nice beaches! So i'll assume John Tardy wrote those words during a nice day of fun in the sun when he was trying to convince some friends to join him for some volleyball. Next time im in Clearwater, i might play some volleyball to experience exactly what he was experiencing.

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Cause Of Death - Roadrunner 1990.
Rating = 6

There's nobody like a death metal band to come up with a really awesome sick twisted fucked up riff that kicks your ass all over Gettysburg, then play it for exactly 14 seconds before replacing it with a predictable, worthless collection of plodding chords that don't do anything. And Obituary are KINGS of this shit, sucking in your interest every single time before kneeing you in the testicle of love with some of the most g-nowhere jick-jick-jick midtempo slop you'll ever hear in my life. Vocals? Still hideous. Just awful, moronic yelling. Subject matter? Still gory, as far as I can tell -- "Body Bag," "Chopped In Half" and the only song I like on here all the way through ("Dying"! Great song! Great action verb!).

What the hell is wrong with death metal bands that they feel the need to ruin all the good parts with equally lengthy bland parts? Are they just trying to fill all the songs with lots of different time signatures to seem more intellectual? Or are they too dumb to realize that one of the keys of memorable songwriting is using at least the SLIGHTEST bit of editing and/or repetition?

Reader Comments
You've got to be fucking kidding me!!!! I don't know what your about, and i don't want to seem disrepectful. If Death Metal isn't your thing let some one else write the DM reviews. (E. Daniel Miller)
This is my favorite Obituary album... it has the riffs and the atmosphere that brings a smile to my face and warm feeling down there... anyway, I think this their masterpiece. "Infected" and "Body Bag" explode out my speakers like James Hetfield's liver on his first day in detox, and the cover of Celtic Frost's "Circle of the Tyrants" rules too. It's also got James Murphy (also in Death, Testament, Disincarnate, Cancer, Konkhra, and a bunch more) contributing his shredding before Allen West rejoins on the next album. My Obituary ratings...

Slowly We Rot - 7.5
Cause of Death - 8.5
The End Complete - 6.5
World Demise - 7.5
Back from the Dead - 7
Anthology (best of) - 8 (it's not bad for a compliation, really...)

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The End Complete - Roadrunner 1992.
Rating = 7

A heavier mix, seems like. Vocals are slightly less annoying, the impression is given. Lots of kickass speed metal bits, it appears. A bit more enjoyable riff repetition, one surmises (especially during the awesome coda in the title track!). Still too many bland slow parts shoved in there for no reason though. Why the hell did I buy all of this band's CDs anyway?

Oh that's right! I have a chemical imbalance.

Reader Comments (Dave Whitman)
The very first death metal album i bought. Was very new to me at the time. Guitars tuned so low, sounding like slow motion diaherrea. And the vocals.. the vocals!! John Tardy's great great ancestors must have been raped by ogres, orks or goblins. Cuz his range in the lows is god-like.. or ungod-like, whichever. And the songs just totally defy regular song patterns. You know, such as the usual verse, chorus, verse, then chorus, bridge, solo etc?? .. . This album is more like verse, verse, puke, solo, verse, vomit, croak..etc. Take the number "In the End Of Life". Starts out with a cryptic like riff.. and then Johnny goes into a droning growl fest as if he was godzilla trying to squeeze an oversized terd outta his ass.. and then goes back to the cryptic like riff and fades. How wacky is that!?! Interesting stuff I tell ya. Definitely a piece of work from the anals (pun intended) of rock n roll every agressive music listening fanatic should add to his collection!!

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World Demise - Roadrunner 1994.
Rating = 7

Okay, they've finally streamlined their sound to the point that even I get it! These songs are all slow and trudgey, like classic Black Sabbath. Very heavy, of course -- thick chord sequences. But with enough repetition and few enough parts in each song (generally a verse-ish part, a chorus-ish part, repetition, a middle part perhaps at a different speed, then back) that the songs actually draw me in and make me think, "Hey! Catchy!" Definitely their turning point into accessibility. Not all the riffs hit the Mark (Prindle) though, and it's awfully slow-paced from egending to bin, so don't expect to be banging your head an awful lot.

Unless your neck gives out halfway through the album and your head is just dangling onto your chest as you run back and forth across the apartment staring at the floor, screaming.

Reader Comments
Even though most death-metal-heads consider this Obituary's sell-out album, it's still my favorite. Sure, it's only marginally death metal, but the songs are great. If you want to annoy the posers in your neighborhood, play 'Splattered' through a good set of speakers and crank it up. Of course, you'll have to replace all the windows in your house, but it's worth it.
This was the first I ever heard from Obituary. At that point I had no idea they were supposed to be death metal and this gave me no reason to think they ever had been. I heard their name here and there and assumed they were just some average thrashy kinda metal band. The reason I felt I had to check it up is funny. It's 'cause I was into the grunge thing (quite a long time after it was "happenin'") and saw a guy wearin' an Obituary t-shirt in the film Singles, the scene where Alice In Chains perform "It Ain't Like That". So I wound up listening to some songs from this one and while I didn't adore it, it was okay and even with the vocals I didn't make the death metal connection.

And here's the thing... Even those first couple of Obituary records... If all death metal had sounded like that, I wouldn't have felt as much contempt for the genre as I do. I guess it's likely that at that point these bands were a bit more stuck to their thrash metal roots. Still, I mean if you compare it to Morbid Angel who were around the same time, Slowly We Rot is really different. The vocals for instance don't have that stupid Cookie Monster thing going... It sounds more like the voice of insanity, which as annoying as it gets after a few minutes, still is not as lame as going off like a beast about some satanic bullshit. Lyrics also different and even the artwork for that album cover is a lot more general pop culture than occultism/dungeons & dragons.

Anywhoos, I'm glad you seem to dislike death metal vocals as much as I do.

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Back From The Dead - Roadrunner 1998.
Rating = 7

Despite my grim expectations and strong reservations, this CD ended up filling me with excitations and Sunkist Orange sweet sensations! The songs are extremely straightforward, heavy as hell and b-b-b-b-catchy! The tracks rotate nicely between speedy tight thrash, midtempo Sabbathy headbanging and sludgey fudgers but only a few times in each song instead of 52 billion times like on Cause Of Dearth. The singer is still pretty annoying but his voice isn't 108 times louder than the music like on Cause Of Bad Breath, and the riffs are just COOL! Very bizarre chord sequences and the occasional creepy note run -- and you know the record she's gonna kick ass straight from the getgo because the opening track, "Threatening Skies," is an awesome speedcore song! As a matter of opinion, certain parts of the record even remind me of late-period DRI, wherein the simple repetition of a not-initially-catchy-at-all guitar riff breeds a happy familiarity resulting in the ultimate enjoyment of the track at which you are gazing with your ear.

It ends with a rap-metal song though. And this world, as you know, would be better off without rap-metal songs. Which reminds me of a fantastic rhyme I made up last night - let me know what you think of this: "If you're black/You smoke crack!/If your name is Chong/You've got a small ding-dong!/Racial stereotyping/That's the life for me!/Polacks can't screw light bulbs/And Puerto Ricans drink their own pee!"

You know, maybe there is something to this whole "no way in hell are we going to sign you to a record deal, Mark Prindle" trend.

Reader Comments
This album was the biggest disappointment of my life. After a masterpiece like World Demise, they put out this piece of crap. Sorry to disagree with you, but I would have given it a '1' rating, if that's your lowest.

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Frozen In Time - Roadrunner 2005
Rating = 7

So I'm on the phone with my intermediary the other day when suddenly I think to myself, "Man, I could really go for a collateral trust bond right about now." So I cut the conversation shorter than the Morningstar Rating System, hop in my trusty tangible asset, and drive on down to see my financial adviser. As I enter his office, the first thing I notice is that he's replaced his Fortune 500 calendar with a grimy poster of some long-haired heavy metal urchins like you might see roaming the halls of the Bolsa de Madrid. "What's this?" I enquire. "Suddenly you're a fan of death benefit metal?"

"I'm truly sorry, Mr. Prindle," said my financial adviser. "I fully intended to prepare a letter of intent re: my closing purchase of the new Obituary CD, but I feared you might think I was doubling up imprudently."

"No no, that's fine," I replied, wondering how long the poor bastard's mind had left before I'd have to gift him a crown loan. "Your current ratio is fine, so I guess we can write this up as an interest deduction."

"You should really hear this new CD, Mr. Prindle," he continued. "I personally enjoy it, yet I foresee a major capital loss in these wayward gents' near future."

As my wife was on her option cycle, I decided to stick around for a while and give it a listen my own self. First of all, it goes without saying that I was a bit shocked about the band's rejection of its profitable Last In, First Out (LIFO) strategy. Why gather in the stops now? Did they have some guaranteed investment contract with Roadrunner that I hadn't read about? No way. After just a few songs, I could already tell that the label had issued them a giant Not Held order.

My financial adviser was right -- I too would have picked up this disc had I not somehow overlooked its notice of sale, and I too would have fallen voluntary victim to its moral suasion. But crikey, talk about an imbalance of orders! I haven't heard this many midtempo chord sequences in a row since Rudimentary Peni's last exploitation of the loose credit policy! I sure hope Roadrunner didn't issue a nonrecourse loan, because I can't imagine ANY death metal fan liking this album. It's as simple, repetitive and unenergetic as early Black Sabbath -- just chord, chord, chord part followed by other chord, chord, chord part and back. Occasionally the guitarist will play a note-driven riff, but these two or three moments hardly count as guaranteed replacement cost coverage insurance. Talk about a single country mutual fund!

Now see, I - ME, that is - I like when bands come up with unique chord sequences I've never heard before - that's why a tune as tame as "Insane" doesn't send me crying into my Form 10-K's. But this music is so monolithic, basic and midtempo, how are old fans - naturally expecting a round lot - going to react to a registered Obituary bond that turns out to be a closed-end fund? Will the 2.5 thrash-speed songs ("On The Floor," "Stand Alone" and the middle half of "Lockjaw") be enough to squash their sneaking feelings that the tape is late? Will they be willing to listen to the disc enough times for it to begin providing an unearned discount? Maybe I'm just nuts, but I swear that this whole project reeks of 'Nonqualifying Annuity,' regardless of Roadrunner's involvement.

The bottom line is that most of the songs are too rudimentary and soundalike to love, but they're also too easy-and-fuzzy-on-the-ears to hate -- unless, of course, you're looking for classic, challenging, ass-kicking Obituary-style death metal. My advice is to check online to see if you can secure interim financing of a few MP3s and listen for yourself. But don't be surprised if you choose to direct your money supply towards a normal trading unit (e.g. the new Nile disc, Morbid Angel's back catalog) instead.

Seriously though - why on Earth is this CD so midtempo, simplistic and inoffensive? And why are all the songs in the same exact key? Is it intended to be heavy metal for old fogies? I'm willing to enjoy it this ONE time, but if it becomes a trend, I'm really going to have to think about ending my mutual association with this band. Someone take out a municipal improvement certificate, quick!

In conclusion, Frozen In Time? More like REGRESSION ANALYSIS in GOING-CONCERN VALUE, if you ask me!

Reader Comments
First impression of this album... it's solid. It's typical also, these guys are the AC/DC of doom-death so if you like one album you like them all. They still put on a hell of a live performance too. 7 out of 10 is right.

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Xecutioner's Return - Candlelight 2007
Rating = 7

Granted I don't listen to Obituary all that often, or in fact at all, ever, but I could've sworn they started out as a death metal band. Even looking back at my shitty reviews of their earlier records, I can see the tell-tale signs of death metal in my descriptions: "Slow parts interspersed with fast parts with no real congruity between the two," "a really awesome sick twisted fucked up riff that kicks your ass all over Gettysburg... for exactly 14 seconds before replacing it with a predictable, worthless collection of plodding chords that don't do anything," "trying to fill all the songs with lots of different time signatures to seem more intellectual."

As such, I'm quite curious about what caused them to so drastically change their sound around the time of Back From The Dead. Were they all in a horrible, debilitating accident or something? This music is so simple. It's as if they woke up one morning and decided, "You know what? Death metal's too hard. From now on, let's just write one part and play it six thousand times." I'm not complaining - after all, I'm the one who was so angrily bitching about them cramming too many forgettable parts into the same thing. But I do find it fascinating.

Like its immediate predecessors, Xecutioner's Return is full of thick, fuzzy, heavy guitars playing songs comprised of two or three different chord sequences, until the chord sequences run out and the album comes to an end. Some of these chord sequences are unorthodox, others less so (and thus less interesting), but it's amazing how effective the constant repetition is in helping the riffs grow on you like a welcome boner. Yes, similes truly are the heart of our literary tradition here in America. As Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote in his defining novel, "The scarlet letter is a simile for my penis on that lady's blouse. From now on, imagine it that way."

The first two songs are nearly identical (yet GREAT!) high-speed thrashers, but after that they return to the midtempo metal that has been their Soup Du Jour (or "soup with ice cream") for the past decade. Unfortunately, they then get even slower, clogging up the second half with three uncompelling doom metal tracks that would've been better merged into a single dull epic to leave space for more great fuzzy blasters like the Melvinsy '70s pop-stomper "Second Chance," oddball plod-stop-plodder "Bloodhost," and bouncy, swinging "Drop Dead."

If you heard the last Obituary album and thought, "I could do that," you were right. But just because you could do something doesn't mean that Obituary shouldn't do it. What, do you want them to stop using soap just because you can do it? They'd be crawling with ticks by now! Or eat? Oh god, EAT!

I am now 34 years old, and still TO THIS DAY have a recurring nightmare that I'm in high school, it's Exam Time, and I haven't been to two of the classes all semester so now I have to somehow read and learn two entire textbooks over a single weekend or I'll fail and won't be able to graduate. Please understand that in real life, I haven't stepped into a classroom of any sort in the past THIRTEEN YEARS. So get with the program, brain asshole! Or at least put some naked girls in there.

You know, like in real high school. Remember Naked Social Studies? Aww I fucken LOVED Naked Social Studies!

Reader Comments
this is a slight step up from Frozen In Time. For one it's longer, and they have Ralph Santolla on guitar now (ex-Death, Deicide, etc.). Cant say i listen to it much all the way through, but there's plenty of good songs. Nice simple titles too... Drop Dead, Evil Ways, Bloodshot, Seal Your Fate, Feel the Pain... and the opening "Face Your Gods" is good too. Dont know what it's about, as always there's no lyrics printed. Maybe it's about facing your gods or something. Santolla's shredding is a little better than Allen West's although it sounds more similar to him than Santolla's playing on Deicide's Stench of Redemption. I'll be nice and say 8/10, which put it's right up there with Slowly We Rot, Cause of Death and World Demise as their best.
Oh yeah, I know your school dreams. I only graduated from college like 20 years ago and I keep having different dreams involving my last semester in college. Sometimes I f'ing forget when my classes are, don't study, or some other misadventures. And I get these stupid dreams at least a couple times a year. Argh!!!

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Darkest Day - Candlelight 2009
Rating = 6

While walking Henry The Best Dog In The World through Central Park tonight, I came up with a practical joke so amazing and hilarious that I can't help but share it with you, the theoretical reader of my web site.

First of all, do you young people at school still have "P.E." class in a separate building known as a "Gymnasium"? Or do you just exercise on the computer now? If the answer is (a), then great. We're halfway there.

Now grab one of your stupid little friends who's in your P.E. class with you, and the two of you pick lockers that are right next to each other. Then, every single day when you meet in the locker room before P.E. class, greet your friend with "Surprise, surprise, surprise!" and have your friend reply, "Well, go-o-olly!" Do this every single day. Eventually one of the other assholes in your class will ask, "Why do you guys say those strange things to each other every day?" (Here comes the kicker)

When this happens, you and your friend turn to the asshole, smile big ol' grins and say, "Because we're gym neighbors!" (Jim Nabors)

I realize this joke may seem meaningless to you young people, but if you have any 60-year-olds in your class, they are going to crack up.

On the topic of "dark(est) day(s)," things have certainly been stagnating over here on the Career front lately. First of all, there are almost no jobs available so whenever a position is listed on Craig's Monster, five hundred billion people respond so I don't get an interview. I find this debilitating.

Secondly, I recently discovered that one of my semi-regular readers holds a position of editorial power at Pitchfork Media. "Please take pity on a dying man and allow him (me) to contribute something to your site," I begged on my computer's hands and knees. But not only did he refuse to let me write for Pitchfork -- he told me I'm not even allowed to read it anymore!

Next I fancied, "Say, maybe Citizine would let me start reviewing CDs again, and then I could sell the CDs on ebay for some extra revenue!" But the editor informed me that he hardly gets any promo CDs anymore (which makes sense -- why send out promos when everybody's just going to steal it off the Internet anyway?). Again, I was stymied. But did I give up? Hell no! I should've though, because nothing else worked either.

My next brilliant idea involved the thought, "Gee! I wonder if I could get a radio show on WFMU, a popular free-form radio station that people across this great nation seem to enjoy?" But I failed at that too, because a billion people who already work there want shows and hate me.

Finally, I sent an introductory note to The Onion's AV Club, hoping that somebody there might know my web site and put in a good word for me; (probably not very) shockingly, I didn't even get a reply! This is the treatment I get after all those years of not reading their newspaper!?

On the bright side, Obituary has been kind enough not to startle me with any artistic progression on their latest release. I have to admit that this is a band I never, ever listen to except when they put out a new CD I have to review. In fact, the only reason they're on my site in the first place is because one day I realized I hadn't reviewed any "O" bands and, being an OCD sufferer, I needed to fill this alphabetical gap as quickly as possible (at the time, they only had four albums). (By the way, I'll give you one guess why I have a "Quarashi" page.)

So, because I never listen to them, every time I sit down to assess a new Obituary release for review, I write down all these notes like, "Jesus! Why are they so SLOW now!?" and "All these songs are so simple! Didn't they used to be a death metal band!?" and "Obituary? More like OSHITuary, if you ask me!!!" Then I feel like a dipsy-doodle when I re-read my Obituary page and realize they've been playing in this manner for like 15 years now and I just keep forgetting.

So yes, Obituary is still playing midtempo sludge-doom metal -- just a bunch of heavy chords and a guy growl-shouting some lyrics. It's way too sluggish and draggy, with almost no energy and far too many space-wasting nothing passages between the fascinatingly strange ones. They kick out the fucks jammermother only for two high-speed thrashers ("List Of Dead" and "Violent Dreams") and three far-too-brief speed metal breaks in otherwise slow as pud songs ("Blood To Give," "See Me Now," "Forces Realign"). The remaining eight songs clomp along at a pedestrian's pace, occasionally handing you a memorable chord sequence but never anything really amazing. "Payback" and "Truth Be Told" strike my brain as a bit hookier than the others, but that's really just personal preference. None of the songs go out of their way to blow your mind, believe me.

I will say this though: Darkest Day makes for very good background music. If you're only halfway paying attention, you don't notice all the do-nothing riffs they stick in to fill space; you only notice the good parts! Since there's generally one good part per song (excepting the throwaway "Outside My Head" and unfathomably slow and boring "Your Darkest Day"), listening to the work in this way results in a warm feeling of familiarity and safety overtaking your person.

Speaking of "warm feeling," I need to urinate out the window on somebody's head now so fuck you.

And don't give me that "maybe if you stopped pissing out the window and telling your readers 'fuck you,' somebody would hire you" crap. I tried it your way last time, and look where THAT got me!

Well okay, employed for 12 years.

But you'll see! You'll see what I can accomplish by peeing out of my window onto peoples' heads! And boy, are you gonna have egg on your face!

Because I'm going to hit you in the face with an egg!

Reader Comments
1. Mark - Pitchfork rejecting you is not a bad thing - have you read any of the horseshit they put out? Do those idiots even have ears? I find that it's safe to assume that the opposite of anything they say is true. Ever seen this?


2. Speaking of the Onion, the AVClub probably just doesn't want anyone to know how much their head writer, Nathan Rabin, copies your style. I mean, he's funny, but he's kind of a safer version of what you do, with the non sequiturs and dick/poop jokes. However, one of their writers, Zack Handlen, basically pestered them with emails and comments until they read his stuff and hired him. And he kind of sucks.

3. I heard some samples of the new Obituary on their myspace page. It sounded like about half stuff they've done on every single album and half mosh-metal. Blegh...

Anyways, just my two cents. Good luck with the job search.

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