2005's Frozen in Time marked the comeback of Obituary, but that album was just a teaser to the shredding death metal gem that is Xecutioner's Return, their latest and greatest work since early classics like Cause of Death and Slowly We Rot. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo had a chance to chat with Obituary drummer Donald Tardy about the hot new album, upcoming live shows, and the band's place in extreme metal history.
Sea of Tranquility: Xecutioner's Time seems like a throwback to the band's earlier releases-was Frozen in Time just a warm up for what you guys really had in store for the fans with this one?
Donald Tardy: Frozen was the album to let everybody know that the old men are still able lay down the metal. It is with this album that we give our fans what they deserve, a kick ass shredding album full of old school riffs and Obituary style writing that true metal fans will love. I couldn't be more proud of the final results of this record. We worked really hard at delivering something that will keep everyone wanting more. This is a record that all fans, new and old will be able to enjoy.
SoT: On first listen to the new CD, the amount of absolutely ripping lead guitar is what hits you right off the bat. Can you talk a little bit about how Ralph Santolla came to be in the band?
Donald: Allen got himself in to trouble by drinking and driving and was sentenced to time in jail. That's how Ralph got the opportunity to do the record with us. Ralph really helped us make this album an instant classic. We worked very hard with him to make sure the solos fit the songs and he really made sure that every one of them were as shredding as they could be. He is one of the best guitar players I've ever witnessed, and I'm blown away by his talent. We are lucky to have him with us and we are all very proud of the final results.
SoT: You've got a pretty extensive US and European tour planned for the next few months-is the line-up for the tour going to be the same as on the CD?
SoT: Is the band excited to be getting out on the road again?
Donald: Yes we are. It's always great to get out and tour to support a record. We are best friends and we love being around each other, so for us to be able to tour and promote this album is awesome. It's a lot of work, but we love it and we know how much the fans appreciate seeing us live. Many more tours and shows in the future for us next year also.
SoT: The extreme metal world has changed a lot since Obituary helped form the genre many years ago. What's your assessment on some of the bands and styles that are popular today?
Donald: I think it's great. I'm glad to see that metal fans are still getting into it and for new bands to be kicking ass. We're just happy to still be a part of the scene. It doesn't really sink in that we were one of the first bands to stamp our name into metal history but we are very honored.
SoT: How do you feel Obituary fits into the death metal scene in 2007?
Donald: We don't worry about trying to fit in or to try and please everyone. We just write songs that we loved to play and hear. We know that when fans pick up the new album they want to know that it's gonna sound like Obituary. That's why we focus on one thing only, writing songs we believe in and enjoy every minute that we have to play shows and perform for our fans.
SoT: Many of the songs on the new CD have that classic Obituary groove, yet never stay trapped in one tempo or pace from song to song. What are some of the tunes you are most proud of on the album?
Donald: It really is an album that every song has it's own feel. It wouldn't matter to me what song to let a new fan hear, as I think any song will grab their attention. This album is kick ass from start to finsh and I'm very proud it. I hope fans enjoy it as much as I do.
SoT: Of all the older bands who you came up with in the late 80's/early 90's who are still active today, which ones do you feel are still relevant today?
Donald: It's good to see the older bands still doing their thing. I think they are all relevant and I'm proud to be apart of the old school club. It good to see that the old guys still know how to lay it down!
SoT: If you can come up with one sentence to describe the latest Obituary CD and the state of the band today to a listener who has never heard the band before, what would you say?
Donald: Ass-kickin, raw, old school metal that grabs a hold of your nuts and doesn't let go till the end of the record.
SoT: The band has obviously toured the world over since the late 80's and played in many places and with many bands. What's the most outrageous time you ever had on the road, and who were the most fun bands to tour with?
Donald: There were so many killer times on the road it would be too hard to write, but I was really honored to tour with Agnostic Front in 1994. It's seems like every time we tour, we make new friends and it is always a good time.
SoT: What can fans expect as far as a set list for the upcoming live shows?
Donald: They can expect to hear songs off every album and to see us play almost the entire new album. They are in for a real treat. We always have a blast on stage and they are sure to have almost as much fun as we will on stage.
(Click here to read our reviews of Xecutioner's Return )