Ever since Metallica’s infamous 1991 album, self titled albums have always made me a bit leery. They always seem to scream sell out, contract out out or flat out of ideas. Throw in the simple ‘just our logo’ cover, the 10th album, and a song from a prior stopgap EP, and my spidey sense is going haywire. All we are mssing is a picture of the band on the cover as well. And unfortunately it appears my spidey sense is right again
After a solid string of albums after the lukewarm Frozen in Time comeback, including 2014 very strong crowdfunded Inked In Blood, which had legend Terry Butler (Death/Massacre) on bass and new comer Kenny Andrews joining Trevor Peres on guitar, the band seemed re energized and reinvigorated. I saw them on tour last year and they seemed as heavy and powerful as ever, but as singles from this album slowly trickled out, I wasn’t overly impressed. And now I’ve heard the full album several times, my fears are realized.
I’ll be blunt, and it pains me to say -but Obituary seems incredibly rehashed. Maybe it’s the lack of crowd funding ( the production seems to have taken a step back as well) or simply the band’s age, but its not until the eighth song, “Turned to Stone” that there’s anything that grabbed me or made me grin or stomp around the house like a crazed ape. Also there’s no stand out track. No “Deny You” , no ” Second Chance”, no “Contrast the Dead”, “Outside My Head” or “Left to Die”. Just songs that seem to be pieced together from all of the bands back catalog (i.e “Straight to Hell” seems to be “I Don’t Care” from World Demise), and not in a good way like Xecutioner’s Return and Darkest Day pulled off , more in a lazy way.
There’s the short, fast opener “Brave” which mimics “Centuries of Lies” , “List of Dead” and “Face Your God” and there’s the swampy trundles of “Lesson In Vengeance” and “It Lives”, which seems to be a Frankenstein’s monster of a bunch of Obituary songs of yore. There’s plenty of Celtic Frost lurches and stomps like “Betrayed”, the decent “Straight to Hell” and the aforementioned “Turned to Stone”- all enjoyable staples of the band and the band’s back catalog, but here I pretty sure I have actually heard every riff on the album on one of the band’s other albums. And if I’m being honest the entire first 2/3 of the album is completely forgettable. And where Kenny Andrews infused a little melody into Inked in Blood, here he seems less featured and more intent on wailing away in more Allen West mimicry, and none of it sticks.
Let me be clear- this is not a terrible album, it’s a middling, forgetful Obituary album there with Frozen in Time and Back From the Dead, which for old school death metal fossils like me, is still something of merit. An act as legendary as this should get a pass, but on the heels of Inked in Blood, this album feels like the band is finally out of steam and Inked in Blood was a last ditch, swing, punch, pass or whatever that expended the band’s energy.[Visit the band's website]