Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Album Review: "Ten Thousand Ways To Die" by Obituary

Seminal death metal band Obituary's primary achievement has been their tone. The deep grizzled crunch of their guitars sounds like a shovel scraping pavement as it loads dirt upon a casket.  

I was very, embarrassingly and tragically late to discovering Obituary. I had always considered Mick Mars guitar on "Shout at the Devil" to be the premium guitar tone, but once I heard Obituary, I knew there was a new king in town.  This sound, born at Morrissound Recording in Tampa, was carefully crafted and expertly delivered within the confines of one of the world's preeminent studios.  The question is could it be duplicated in a live setting.

The new album Ten Thousand Ways To Die contains thirteen songs, eleven of which are live recordings, recorded in eleven cities during their 2015 Inked In Blood tour.  As their first proper live album, this would be a true test.  

Although there is no telling how much post show studio work was done to the tracks, the live sound engineers did a brilliant job.  The energy, power and intensity of an Obituary show has been captured.  Most importantly the tone has survived, with all the distorted fury we have come to expect from their studio outputs.

Perhaps, even more importantly than the successful capture of the Obituary live show, is the addition of two new tracks,"Ten Thousand Ways to Die" and "Loathe".  

“Ten Thousand Ways To Die” is an up tempo riff driven tune, which could easily pass as a traditional thrash metal track were it not for the growled vocals about death.  

At times it is decidedly more melodic than typical Obituary fare.  The outro solo features a tone so clean and clear, I wondered at one point if it was a keyboard playing the notes.  Still, do not be fooled by this description , or the uniqueness of the title track, as it still contains the hallmark groove and gristle of Obituary and is sure to please even their most devoted fans.   
“Loathe” is a plodding doom tune which alternates between the pace of a zombie lurching through a graveyard and the galloping heartbeat of its panicked, fleeing victim.  Of course, undead pursuit is probably not what the song is really about, but the undiscernible gravel laden vocals of John Tardy allow the listener to make their own interpretation.  

The musicianship is solid, the composition supreme and the tone undeniably Obituary.  By these measures, it is a great addition to the Obituary catalogue.

Whether you are new to Obituary as I sadly am, or are a long time fan, as I should have been, there is reason to pick up their latest release.  We anxiously await the full length album expected to drop in the Spring.

Release Date: October 21, 2016

Label: Relapse Records
Genre: Death Metal

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