Xecutioner's Return

So here it is. Arguably the most anticipated death metal albums of the year from one of the genre’s most respected and revered acts-and if you could tell from the cover art and album title, it’s a true return to form.

Personally I found Frozen In Time to be a tired plodding release that reeked of contractual obligation rather than a death metal legend returning to the fray. However, on Xecutioner’s Return, the Tardys and co. seem far more energized, focused and and keyed in to what death metal should be than on their rather faux ‘reunion’ album of yore.

What we get here is an album that seems to cull from all of the band’s albums-good or bad. You get the murky, muddy Celtic Frost inspired riffage of Slowly We Rot, the solos of Cause of Death, the polish of The End Complete, the confidence of World Demise the vocal rawness of Back From the Dead and the comeback factor that should have glossed Frozen in Time with more glory. The end result is a true return to form album from a death metal legend and an album that shows was classic death metal was truly about.

Other than the sense of renewed vigor that seems to have graced the now Allen West-less band, what gives Xecutioner’s Return it’s greatness is the presence of Ralph Santolla (Iced Earth, most recently Deicide). As he did on The Stench of Redemption, Santolla adds just enough melodic leads to the band’s already established sound, that it elevates it. As James Murphy did on Cause of Death, Santolla simply gives Obituary’s already solid material that sense of melody and polish that collides with the primal tones to deliver a near perfect experience. Tracks like “Seal Your Fate”, “Feel The Pain” and most notably the superb, epic closer “Inside Your Head” reek of Cause of Death due to Santolla.

However, the other tracks are no slouches. Thanks to a Neanderthal guitar tone and low end, oozing, icky riffs like “Feel the Pain”, “Bloodshot”, “Contrast The Dead” and arguably the best track the band has penned since Cause of Death, “Inside Your Head”, lumber with skin crawling effectiveness (When Tardy opens “Contrast the Dead” with “I’m begging you pleeeeeeeeese”!, I got goosebumps). Also the faster, more direct tracks (“Face Your God”, “Lasting Presence”, “Lies”), are effective and more complete than anything on Frozen In Time, and quite honestly it’s refreshing to hear actual riffs an structure as opposed to all the uber brutal, techy, grinding nu-death metal that’s been gracing these ears. However, my favorite track of the album, “Second Chance”, delivers a simply, yet classic mid paced almost AC/DC or Six Feet Under styled riff that just fucking rocks.

An appropriately titled and classic sounding album in every sense, Xecutioner’s Return is the band’s true return to form and shows Obituary’s place in death metal’s pantheons is deserved (despite “Billituary”).

By Erik Thomas

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
October 30th, 2007


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