Since Floridian Death Metal pioneers Obituary released the first of their comeback albums, Frozen In Time (Roadrunner) in 2005, the results have been frustratingly inconsistent. All four reunion albums to date contain moments of undisputed quality, but are also hindered by a fair share of lacklustre material.
Another day, another reunion. For the unaware, German quintet Morgoth created a reasonable buzz back in the early 90s with the solid if unspectacular duo of Cursed and Odium. Then they went and spoiled it all by doing something stupid like releasing Feel Sorry for the Fanatic, a bizarre jaunt into experimental electronic territory which appalled fans and led to the band breaking up in 1998. However, like so many others they have returned from the grave and Ungod (all Century Media Records) is the fruit of their labours. Is it worth it?
On first impressions, the answer is a baffled “No!” as the naked Obituary rip-off of ‘House of Blood’ comes lumbering out of the speakers. New vocalist Karsten ‘Jagger’Jäger sounds so much like John Tardy you’ll be wondering if there’s been a mistake at the pressing plant. Thankfully things improve on the catchy mid-paced ‘Voice of Slumber’ which makes good use of those morose yet subtle melodies that were just enough to give Morgoth their own identity back in the day. Further tracks such as the measured riffing and familiar satanic lyrics of ‘Snakestate’ and the more aggressive attack of ‘Descent into Hell’ are pretty much exactly what the doctor ordered; middle of the road, no-frills death metal that sounds exactly like it was recorded in Florida circa 1993.
Honestly, were you expecting anything different? It’s hardly surprising that Morgoth have retreated to their classic sound (comfort zone) after such a disastrous backfire all those years ago, and they certainly know how to pen a decent death metal tune. However, like Massacre’s comeback record last year which shamelessly traded on former glories, Morgoth seem to think that just turning up and acting like nothing’s changed will be enough. Unfortunately the world of extreme metal is a far more diverse, cut-throat entity than it was in their heyday and it’s difficult to see them standing out from the herd this time round.
Death Metal legends Obituary are back with their first album in five years. Times may change and the band might have embraced the crowdfunding model for funding, but the music is still firmly in the bloody grave of the 1980s. Inked In Blood (Relapse) is the ninth album from the Florida five-piece, currently made up of John Tardy (vocals), Donald Tardy (drums), Kenny Andrews (lead guitar), Trevor Peres (rhythm guitar) and Terry Butler (bass). Andrews and Butler make their studio debut after the departure of Ralph Santolla and long-time bassist Frank Watkins.
That the new album was funded through crowdfunding site Kickstarter and raised six times its original goal of $10,000 shows the band are still in high demand, even after 25-odd years. And with that $60,000 Obituary have delivered a decent slab of classic, straightforward death metal.
Opener ‘Centuries of Lies’ storms straight for the jugular, full of aggression and power. ‘Violent By Nature’ is a sinister mid-tempo slasher, while ‘Violence’ is a classic brutal thrashers. The riffs and downtuned and mean with squealing solos, the double-kick drums rarely let up, and John Tardy’s vocals are as evil as ever.
New guitarist Andrews does a good job of replacing Santolla and delivers simple, straight the point chainsaw riffs. Much of the album sounds like a lost relic from the late 80s or early 90s, which is no terrible thing, but does sound somewhat dated. The slower sings get bogged down and rarely pique the interest; the likes of ‘Back on Top,’ ‘Deny You,’ ‘Out for Blood’ and the title track kill off much of the momentum gathered by the early thrashers. Unfortunately from there on, despite some strong songs, the urgency is lost.
The likes of Carcass and At The Gates have shown age is nothing but a number when it comes to staying relevant in an overcrowded scene. Sadly Obituary arena’ up to the same standard. Inked in Blood is another decent, if uninspiring release from the Florida legends. There’s plenty of enjoyable moments, but little we’ve not heard before and can at times all get a bit pedestrian.