“Slowly We Rot” may have kick-started with a mighty low gurgling growl of typical Tardy fashion yet OBITUARY’s second outing is content with a slow intro of immense proportions manifesting placid waters which beg to be disturbed. The stone thrown into the murky depths is one hell of a force, consisting of that damn catchy distorted guitar buzz and thundering drums which echo around every crevice. The deadened snare keeps time in the background as James Murphy shreds away with excellent lead work, giving way only to a killer set of riffs and Mr. Tardy himself; returning to offer a second belching of chaos and guttural bliss. This is classic OBITUARY and this is goddamn lethal as Metal is meant to be.
As soon as this audio act of terrorism begins filleting skin we are hit with the overwhelming presence of James Murphy which provides a new identity intermingling with that of the band and producing an overall effect which is relatively on par with Allan West. This is not the James Murphy who showed up to record “The Gathering”, this is the spiteful bastard who will bludgeon you to death with riffs of epic proportions and brutality which is all but forgotten when it comes to contemporary Death Metal. Give “Chopped In Half” a listen and this will be readily identified as you find yourself fully endorsing Euthanasia in order to end your perpetual agony (in a good way of course). Some may prefer Allan West (and one could place me in that crowd) but you cannot flatly deny the profound influence James Murphy has had in crafting a strong Death Metal album which offers an altogether different experience than the debut; this is one of the chief reasons you should purchase this album as well as the previous effort.
The songwriting on “Cause Of Death” is still quite strong and reminiscent of “Slowly We Rot”. The songs continue to bleed into each other forming this solidarity of working compositions unified on a single front and acting as one. The riffs lend well to this, possessing a unique identity for each song while still lending to an organized whole. Unfortunately the only cracks discovered in the foundation tend to be the somewhat weaker guitar-tone in comparison to the previous album. While still quite heavy and sharp, the overall sound of the axe-work just does not carve through the flesh with as much ease as classics like “Suffocation” or “Gates To Hell”. The easiest way to view the distinct difference is to compare the demo version of “Find The Arise”, which bears the strength of the “Slowly We Rot” sound, with that of the polished version on “Cause Of Death”. Yes, the song still slaughters but stands in stark difference equal to that of a dull rusty blade in comparison to finely sharpened and cleaned steel.
Besides the somewhat weaker guitar tone and alternating of the lead guitar slot, the rest of the outfit delivers faithful performances establishing their immediate consistency which would only be shattered with the release of “World Demise”. A special mention is given to Donald Tardy as he manages to beat the hell out of his kit with such force even a guitarist would let his jaw drop and marvel at the musicianship. Unfortunately this can be overshadowed by the ever present lead-work of Murphy but one must not forget the driving backbone of the rhythm section.
The bottom-line is that this is OBITUARY’s last truly great effort and warrants purchase by even a casual Death Metal fan. The completely original sound this band had crafted with their first two albums was something to behold and the mix of Doom and Death is even tastier than Peanut Butter and Jelly. Not quite as strong as “Slowly We Rot” but still a far leap ahead most other acts and far more compelling than most of the derivative material one would find in a record store in this day. (Online October 20, 2005)