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Obituary: Xecutioner's Return

Yep, you got that right, the legends of Florida-based death metal, Obituary, are back with a new album, this one on Candlelight Records and titled Xecutioner's Return. 2005's Frozen in Time was just the tip of the iceberg, showing that the boys had lost none of their extreme metal power in the years they were away, but now we have this latest release, and let's face it, these guys are ready to be a force once again.

From the first spin of this CD, it's apparent that something is amiss here-there's TONS of smokin' hot, shredding guitar solos all over this bastard! That's right, Obituary now have a bona-fide virtuoso in their midst, that being the mighty Ralph Santolla (formerly of Deicide, Iced Earth, & Death), and he makes his presence known on each and every track here. While longtime vocalist John Tardy and his trademark bark are in fine form throughout this CD, it's Santolla's tasty and acrobatic solos alongside the crushing riffs of Trevor Peres that really drives these 11 killer tunes. Tunes like "Face Your God", "Lasting Presence", "Evil Ways", and "Bloodshot" just plaster the listener with crushing grooves, Tardy's unique vocal delivery, and Santolla's nimble fretwork. Check out Donald Tardy's manic drum fills on the blistering thrash attack of "Seal Your Fate", a real fast paced ripper pefectly sealed with jaw-dropping sweep picking from Santolla. If you like the grueling, grinding, and heavy handed Obituary style of yesteryear, check out the doomy death metal piece "Feel the Pain" (which almost has a hint of Celtic Frost for good measure) and the sludge ridden, seven minute epic "Contrast the Dead", complete with massive riffs from Peres and Santolla.

If I have any gripe with this CD, it's that the production is a bit muddy, as Frank Watkins' bass and some of the rhythm guitars could have been a tad crisper and brought up in the mix a little. That aside, this is a smoldering platter for Obituary that is sure bring them back into the extreme metal spotlight much like they were over a decade ago.

Track Listing
1. Face Your God ( 2:56 )
2. Lasting Presence ( 2:12 )
3. Evil Ways ( 2:57 )
4. Drop Dead ( 3:36 )
5. Bloodshot ( 3:25 )
6. Seal Your Fate ( 2:30 )
7. Feel the Pain ( 4:31 )
8. Contrast the Dead ( 7:01 )
9. Second Chance ( 3:28 )
10. Lies ( 3:32 )
11. In Your Head ( 4:32 )

Added: December 4th 2007
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Obituary Website
Hits: 4494
Language: english

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Obituary: Xecutioner's Return
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-12-03 06:24:38
My Score:

It was probably the best title that they could have ever decided to use because with the Xecutioner's Return the band Obituary shows that they are back and ready to once again pummel you with the brand of Death Metal that they have so long ago mastered. As many know the US brand of the genre was slightly different from that of our European brothers and when it came to Obituary's sound there was always a lot of old school Thrash involved and while John Tardy growls away as their singer, his own style was not an indiscernible as some of the bands who would follow them. I always felt that when I heard him there was a certain Hardcore vibe happening. The album would come care of Candlelight Records who the band signed a deal with in May of 2007 and there is probably no better label for them to be on since they are long respected as being the label that is capable of handling some of the Darkest Metal to have ever been released (see Dark Funeral and Averse Sefira for example). As you listen to the album you will find that it smokes on a number of levels and that is definitely based on the newest member of the camp Ralph Santolla. He is a guitar wizard and brings new levels of technique to the Death Metal rumblings of Obituary and where we once found solid leads, we now find displays of riffs that leave you scratching your head wondering how he managed to get that run to work in a track as heavy as this. One could expect no less of the guitarist since he has accomplished a lot of good over the course of his career in bands like Iced Earth, Deicide and Death. The skills he brings to the table for Obituary truly shine on numbers like "Drop Dead" and "Lasting Presence" and if you never thought you would find a Death Metal epic then listen to the seven minute "Contrast The Death". The great thing about the album is that it is not simply a speed-fest but instead offers a lot of slow grooves that in some cases reminded me of Crowbar based on how sludgy they were willing to get. "Contrast" is one of the best numbers as well since while it chugs along we get Santolla racing up and down the fret board like his life depended on it. Santolla is a perfect compliment to Trevor Peres and I think the level of the music has been upgraded just a bit more based on how detailed these lead breaks were. The drumming by Donald Tardy is straightforward and solid. At times he is thundering on the double bass and at others he offers up blast beats to accompany the razor sharp shredding. He does not seem to deviate from keeping time by experimenting all over the drum kit like some drummers do and cause the tune to be a little confusing. Tandy sees the job at hand and holds to it.

Continuing deeper into the album there are a couple of songs that come off like Old School Hardcore as well and I felt this most during the albums opener "Face Your God" and "Seal Your Fate" - so if a fast pit is what you are looking for during a gig then wait for these songs to be delivered live. I also thought "Lies" was one of those tunes that are destined to inspire circle pits in a club near you. The main factor that I took from "Xecutioner's Return" was the fact that it showed the band still full of ideas about how their music can be presented and it was a very solid and interesting listen from beginning to end. They raised the bar on their own sound and by changing it up a little bit have shown us all that one does not need to follow any expectations against older material and can instead demonstrate what else they are capable of without selling out their genre. This is heavy stuff that I think non Death Metal fans would enjoy since the vibe is so strongly Old School Thrash no matter what the band is labeled as. If you are hiding under a rock and don't know much about Obituary then this album offers you the perfect jumping on point and is a high recommendation that I believe no one will regret looking into.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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