Obituary – Dying Of Everything

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Reviewed: [January 2023]
Released [2023 Relapse Records]
Rating [4/5]
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson

Florida death metal legends Obituary offer a “happy new year” message as only they can with their 11th album. Forget about that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” empowerment bullshit. The point of Dying Of Everything is more along the lines of “what doesn’t kill you first only softens you up for what’s next.” And what’s next might be even worse!

The title track’s final verse, delivered in an eerie, Sauron-like voice over, offers: “You will find yourself living in the dark / Fearing your every move / And as your heart beats / Pounding out your chest / You’ll find your only choice is death.” Comforting thought. But given that the album opens with “Barely Alive” and ends with “Be Warned” – with John Tardy moaning “bewaaaaaaare, be waaaaaaaarned” as only he can – I suppose it stands to reason. Add the likes of “War,” “Torn Apart,” Weaponize The Hate” and “Without A Conscience” and, well, you get the message.

True to form, Obituary deliver their bad tidings with the “redneck stomp” that has been their trademark for nearly 40 years, if you factor in a couple name changes (Executioner to Xecutioner before settling on Obituary in 1988) and a six-year hiatus from 1997-2003. And that means plenty of heaving, chest-thumping grooves doled out over relatively simple arrangements and topped by John Tardy’s flame-throwing voice that is essentially an instrument unto itself – even though his lyrics and message have grown clearer and comparatively more profound since the band’s early days when he would essentially just vomit forth sounds and seemingly random words.

Dying Of Everything is equal parts bruising ass kickers (“Barely Alive,” the title track, “Weaponize The Hate”); chunky, chuggy, sometimes downright catchy crunchers (“The Wrong Time,” “Torn Apart,” “War” – or “Waaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrr!” in Tardy’s parlance); and low and slow death march numbers (“My Will To Live,” “By The Dawn,” “Be Warned”). At its core are the mammoth, mercilessly deliberate riffs and hooks of Trevor Peres and Ken Andrews powered by the thunking drums of Tardy’s brother Donald, a familiar sound that has made Obituary something of an “AC/DC of death metal” over the years, but which continues to resonate – and often crush, as is the case here.

Though still instantly and strikingly familiar, Dying nevertheless offers subtle twists and turns, with a few more furious gallops, some of the band’s most listener-friendly hooks ever – the infectious “The Wrong Time” is basically a traditional rock song given a death metal going over – and some overt politicizing on “Without A Conscience” and “Weaponize The Hate” that seem surprisingly liberal for a band of self-professed rednecks that hail from the heart of the MAGA universe in central Florida. Yet that’s enough to make it stand out from Obituary’s still pretty solid recent releases – the self-titled predecessor from 2017 or 2014’s Inked In Blood.

The band could easily justify soldiering on as a legacy act and fall back on the considerable strengths of their landmark first two albums, Slowly We Rot and Cause of Death from 30 years ago. But like some others from back in the day – notably Carcass and At The Gates – Obituary still sound energized, relevant and vital, and continue to build momentum instead of merely coasting along. And if that means harshing your new year’s buzz by highlighting some of the “Ten Thousand Ways To Die” they spoke of last time out, then so be it.


Videos


Obituary

Lineup
John Tardy – vocals
Ken Andrews – guitar
Trevor Peres – guitar
Terry Butler – bass
Donald Tardy – drums

Track List
1. Barely Alive
2. The Wrong Time
3. Without A Conscience
4. War
5. Dying Of Everything
6. My Will To Live
7. By The Dawn
8. Weaponize The Hate
9. Torn Apart
10. Be Warned

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