“YYYYYYYYYYEEEEUUUUUUUAAAAARRRHHHHHHHHHH” John Tardy’s voice rips through your speakers, grabs you by your mullet and forces you to head-bang till your spine rips in two. This is OBITUARY. One of the founding fathers of the Floridian Death Metal School and they will settle for nothing less than bleeding eardrums and sore throats attempting to mimic this hellacious assault. Material such as this shakes the very foundation sanity is built upon.
OBITUARY’s debut long player acts as an audio journal capturing aggression and energy through a medium which articulates agony with unparalleled intensity. The guitar-tone is absolutely sick. Countless bands in this genre have been accredited to possessing a sound akin to a buzz-saw or chainsaw. Those flimsy cutting tools couldn’t sever a leg from a table when put in perspective to the carnage sown by OBITUARY. Not even a minute into “Internal Bleeding” I feel my skin begin to splinter at the unrelenting brutality which is made only worse when the precise drumming of Donald Tardy is thrown in the mix. His blasting and fills are strikingly reminiscent of an axe slamming into the trunk of a tree or the neck of a soon to be cadaver.
The vocals found within this refined chaos are what separate OBITUARY from other purveyors of the genre. I’ve heard thousands of Glen Bentons and Chris Barnes in the scene gurgling like an old woman who’s found a piece of meat lodged in her esophagus. John Tardy takes a fresh approach by combining a growl/snarl/screech technique which is rather unique. The range captured in his voice is incredible and most perfectly exemplified in “Gates To Hell” at where John loses it presents the possibility that perhaps he should have been placed in a padded room rather than behind the mic, absolutely crazy.
The compositions captured here represent the beginning of OBITUARY’s journey which just so happened to start at the top of the hill. The energy found here would soon find cracks in its foundation beginning in trace amounts with their next release, “Cause Of Death” and would ultimately taper off to the point of OBITUARY falling into the tragic muck of musicians and bands who struggle to stand out from the crowd. Many of these stellar songs can be broken down to the point where the influence is readily identifiable. Both POSSESSED and DEATH, the two founders of the Death Metal scene, are given tribute in these recordings, having breathed fresh life into a stagnate Thrash outfit and influencing them to undergo a metamorphosis into one of the most influential Death Metal bands of all time. The most obvious example of such worship is given at the mark of “Suffocation”. We know that riff from somewhere don’t we…oh my…why don’t you PULL THE PLUG!
The final dismemberment which acts as the albums strongest point is its compositional variety most notably in the faculty of tempo. These guys know what they are doing. Just listen to tracks like “Til Death” and “Suffocation” where Allen West provides us with a bone-chillingly dark, heavy as hell riff which slowly grinds you to dust. Now skip to “Intoxicated”, what’s that in your lap? Oh it’s just your skull, dislodged from your spine due to beyond the speed of sound head-banging (Headless Horseman an Obituary fan I wonder?).
This is the real OBITUARY long before Donald Tardy gave up head-banging to party hard with ANDREW WK and Allen West joined metal’s biggest embarrassment SIX FEET UNDER (which he ultimately quit-I wonder why?). One of the strongest Death Metal outings to exist, only lacking perhaps in technical solos (which would find their way into “Cause Of Death” care of James Murphy) and an element of catchiness (which also would develop later with “Find The Arise” and “Chopped In Half”).
Take one last glance at the cover art. See that emaciated body lying in the gutter? That’s the face of OBITUARY’s competition. Look real close. That’s the face of Chris Barnes. It’s the face of David Blomqvist. The face of the Kolesne Brothers. Haven’t you ever wondered where all that blood on their logo came from? OBITUARY has laid waste to its competitors and proven alongside its contemporaries, POSSESSED and DEATH, that the first are still the best.
P.S. If you can get a hold of the remastered copy check out the demo version of “Find the Arise.” It slays and is twice as brutal as the finalized version on “Cause Of Death.” (Online May 3, 2005)