OBITUARY – “Dying of Everything” 

by Thor

Full Disclosure. I LOVE OBITUARY. In fact, I’ve been thinking about my relationship with this band’s music a lot lately, and I came to some conclusions that surprised me. The overall gist, though, is that despite the fact that I’ve been a professional musician myself for 30 years across an array of genres and styles, and my appreciation for music as a fan is as eclectic as can be, if you forced me to pick a “favorite band” right now—the type of request that’s impossible in almost all instances—I would proclaim OBITUARY as that band and I would do it with absolute certainty. Keep in mind that were it not for my wife, I’d die of petrification trying to decide between two cereals in the morning. So, for me, this certitude is a revelation.

With that in mind I’m happy to write that one of death metal’s preeminent progenitors and arguably metal’s heaviest band OBITUARY is back with 10 new slabs of kaiju steak-like tunes collectively called “Dying of Everything,” and I have some thoughts….

The things that typify OBITUARY  are, in order, John Tardy’s one-of-a-kind acidic wailing, Trevor Peres’ disgustingly heavy guitar groan--like if an ogre with the stomach flu was a sound, and Donald Tardy’s intimidating groove vortex that sounds as if that aforementioned ogre got himself a set of Yamahas. All those elements are immediately present on “Dying of Everything” and that alone gets us halfway to a good review.

“Dying of Everything” sounds unmistakably like late-era OBITUARY—it features their quintessential monstrous riffs and grooves combined with a rawer production, a moderately more articulate John Tardy, the rock-solid bottom end courtesy of death metal Mount Rushmore face Terry Butler (MASSACRE, DEATH, SIX FEET UNDER) and the incredibly melodic leads of Ken Andrews. It’s the latter’s contributions that yield the biggest evolution in the band’s overall sound. Andrews’ leads are atypical in that they sound so refined and conventional juxtaposed against the rest of the band’s musical barbarism and brute force. At times it’s genius, and at other times it’s a little bit of a fly in the soup. Or in this case, some soup in the fly.

The first half of the album is great, boasting aggressive bangers like “Without a Conscience” and the titular “Dying of Everything.” The back half is good, too, but it loses a bit of steam as the band seems to have saved most of their relatively experimental passages for this stretch. Some of those elements are cool, but just as often feel underbaked.

My biggest problem with “Dying of Everything” is that the snare drum sounds like a wet paper bag. It has absolutely zero “crack” in my high-end headphones and that void pushes what’s supposed to be the drum kit’s most dominant element way back into the mix. And it’s really a shame because at age 53 the great Donald Tardy performs some of his best drumming yet. It’s also a perplexing problem for a band that’s recorded some of my favorite drum sounds of all time, particularly the snare drum.

While OBITUARY’s “Dying of Everything” doesn’t necessarily recapture the band’s peak fury and songwriting prowess of the early ‘90s, it’s most certainly an OBITUARY album through and through. That means your baseline is 10 new tracks of super heavy, catchy death metal. And depending on your tastes, you may find a lot more than that to dissect and enjoy.