Released: 2017, Relapse Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
The one knock on Obituary's post-reunion albums is that they've been a bit sluggish, as the band seemed to get a bit too enamored with their methodical “redneck stomp” at the expense of some of the raw aggression of old. But with the introduction of ex-Death/Massacre/Six Feet Under bassist Terry Butler and lead guitarist Kenny Andrews to the fold and a back-to-basics mentality, things took a turn for the better with 2014's Inked In Blood, which showed renewed vim and vigor.
That carries over to their even more energetic self-titled 10th album. Following hot on the heels of October's “single” “Ten Thousand Ways To Die" - which featured one other new song not included on the album, "Loathe," and 45 minutes of live material - Obituary get right down to business with the bulldozing "Brave," which recalls "Back To One" from 1992's The End Complete. It's a 2:15, d-beat driven barnstormer that gives way to more of the same with "Sentence Day."
"Lesson In Vengeance" down-shifts to a chugging jog that is then mixed with a brisker gallop at the front and back of "End It Now." Drummer Donald Tardy kicks up the double-bass patter for "Kneel Before Me" and "It Lives," which sounds like a retooling of "Loathe" in frontman John Tardy's full-throated, forboding "It liiiivvvvveeeessss" roar.
There's not much in the way of the slog that typified the more recent Xecutioner's Return or Darkest Days here. "Turned To Stone" has that same sort of creepy-crawl pace, but Tardy's emphatic vocals and the groovy rhythm guitar crunch of Trevor Peres and Andrews keep any dreariness at bay – as does the sprinting lead break that caps it off. Same goes for "Straight To Hell," only with a bit more plod and without the wild solo at the end.
But there are plenty of those elsewhere. Andrews figures much more prominently here than he did on Inked In Blood and makes the most of the opportunity with fiery solos in just about every song. Indeed "Sentence Day" absolutely is studded with leads and tradeoffs with Peres, making it perhaps the flashiest song the generally unassuming band have ever done.
At 10 songs in 33 minutes, Obituary is the band's liveliest, most efficient album since their 2005 comeback Frozen In Time. Its spunkiness is infectious and its raw energy as is genuine as it was back in the day. And with its brisker pace and the band's rediscovered heft, it packs quite a refreshing wallop, which is never a bad thing.