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.
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.