Album Title: Dying Of Everything
Label: Relapse Records
Date of Release: 13 January 2022
Whilst straight-up death metal hasn’t always been a favourite genre of mine, there are a few bands that I’ve nevertheless rather liked. Obituary are one of these, mainly because of their no-nonsense brand of riff-heavy and generally groovy style of delivery alongside a penchant for some filth and gore along the way.
Seemingly around forever, ‘Dying Of Everything’ is the eleventh full-length release of the American’s career, albeit the first in six years since the release of their self-titled record in 2017. I for one welcome back the quintet, interested to see how the pandemic-induced hiatus has affected the extreme metal stalwarts.
One of the enduring elements of Obituary’s music is the fact that they have never strayed too far from their chosen path, a path that began back in 1989 with their debut, the brilliant ‘Slowly We Rot’. Not every album along the way has been greeted with the same fervour and effusiveness, it’s fair to say. However, the fact that the Tardy brothers, drummer Donald and vocalist John, alongside guitarists Trevor Peres and Kenny Andrews, and bassist Terry Butler have stayed the course, means that they must be doing something right.
‘Dying Of Everything’ is another prime example of what Obituary are doing right, too. It is a nasty and brutal slab of death metal, but boy does it contain some groove, the kind of groove that I find infectious and impossible to ignore. It gets the head bobbing, and a sly grin to emerge on my face. There’s nothing overly technical or complex about the music here, but it does exactly what it’s supposed to, and for that, it has to be commended. In fact, whilst it is a little inconsistent, especially as the album enters the latter stages, it is hard to criticise the band too much, such is the sheer power and intent that is delivered from the beginning.
Particular attention should be paid to the opening quartet of songs, all of which pack a punch and have me returning for repeated bruising encounters. Opening salvo, ‘Barely Alive’ is poorly titled because the ugly ferocity that ensues would suggest that Obituary are very much alive and firing on all their gruesome cylinders. It kicks off at rapid, possibly rabid, pace and continues in the same vein for four brisk minutes. Swirling, uncontrolled lead breaks, swift incisive riffs, Tardy’s gurning growls, and a potent rhythm section are blended with moments of slower groove, creating a truly edifying blast of gnarly potency.
The central riff to ‘The Wrong Time’ is insanely catchy, making it possibly my favourite of all the songs on this album. The tempo is mid-to-fast, more relentless than its predecessor in its attack, and simpler in construction. But there’s a magic to it that cannot be denied, reminding me just why Obituary can be such a force to be reckoned with. The mid-song solo is actually as melodious as it is scything, adding another welcome ingredient to the groove-laden affair.
‘Without A Conscience’ continues the expert death metal brutality, albeit slowing the pace a touch more to create more of a lumbering, plodding behemoth rather than a lithe assault to the senses. But the guitar tone is so pleasing to my ears, especially when given the time and space to be able to resonate a little. It’s in the latter stages where that the bass of Butler comes into its own, a deep and low gurgling to accompany an incessant but groovy riff that reminds me a little of Pantera in their prime, something akin to ‘Mouth For War’ perhaps.
With a title like ‘War’, it’s hardly surprising that the song is introduced via the sounds of gunfire and a battle raging, before a chunky as hell riff takes over, alongside some of the deepest notes I’ve heard Tardy spew forth. As per it’s predecessor, the pace is slow and deliberate, choosing more of a sledgehammer approach to proceedings. Again, the lead breaks and solos are a thing of real extreme elegance, adding to the song immensely. The ‘groovy’ descriptor is again well-placed, and by this point, I’m also getting into my groove with ‘Dying Of Everything’.
As I alluded to earlier in the review though, it has to be said that the quality from this point on is patchier. The quintet has, however, built up quite an impressive bank of good will in the early stages, so some of the slight missteps can be forgiven more readily than they otherwise might.
Nevertheless, the title track is more than decent, increasing the pace at points, and offering an interesting mid-section that seeks to add some atmosphere to proceedings. I’m not convinced by the heavily effect-laden vocals at this point though and I feel like the song peters out a little too much towards the close. And then there are tracks like ‘My Will To Live’ which is better-titled in that it does test mine as I listen to it, as it contains less of the spark seen in the earlier stages.
What could have been a properly superb slab of dirty, groovy death metal ultimately falls just a little short thanks to the latter stage fall away in quality. Mind you, there’s a strong argument to be made that the first handful of songs alone make the parting of your hard-earned cash thoroughly justified. Indeed, I’m having to have a long and detailed talk with myself as to whether I succumb and put my hand in my pocket. As it stands, I think my heart will win out and I’ll be pleased to see it sit in my collection very soon. I do love Obituary and if you do too, you’ll ignore my score and buy it anyway.
The Score of Much Metal: 79%