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OBITUARY Ten Thousand Ways To Die

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Monday, October 24, 2016 @ 11:29 AM


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OBITUARY
Ten Thousand Ways To Die

Relapse Records




A decade after reuniting following a six-year hiatus, Florida death metal stalwarts OBITUARY essentially rebooted themselves with 2014’s Inked In Blood album after years of waning enthusiasm and lineup and label turmoil. Financed via a Kickstarter campaign, and issued through a new deal with Relapse Records, the album was the band’s first to crack the Billboard Top 100 and made a lot of people sit up and take notice once again.

And with a finally solid lineup, featuring ex-MASSACRE/SIX FEET UNDER bassist Terry Butler and new lead guitarist Kenny Andrews, OBITUARY hit the road hard in its wake. Indeed, it still is at it having just gone to Europe for a co-headline trek with EXODUS. And while all that work has left little time for a follow-up, OBITUARY seems intent on retaining the momentum it has built with Inked.

Ostensibly a live album, Ten Thousand Ways To Die is being marketed as a “single” - with 11 live “bonus” songs. Interesting strategy. But no matter how you slice it, Die offers two new tunes, “Loathe” and the title track, and should not only satisfy those eager for new material, but whet everyone's appetites for whenever a true follow-up is in the offing.

“Loathe” is sort of the creepy-crawly death metal that is OBITUARY's forte. The unhurried, methodical plod, with a bit of chug here and there, just keeps pounding away while frontman John Tardy spews his deliberate roaring vocals - “I loooaaatttthhheee!” - like he's pouring cement: slow and gurgly. The title track has a bit more spring to it, and a nifty solo from Andrews, but still has the relaxed, stonery/Southern vibe that sets OBITUARY apart from its far more frantic compatriots. Both boast a raw, almost live sound that blends well with the genuinely live material.

Each of the 11 “bonus” tracks was recorded at a different venue around the States and Canada, giving them an uneven and unpolished sound and feel that has a distinctive charm. Too often bands go back and touch up their “live” material with studio patches, but Die feels like it's direct from the soundboard, warts and all - at times I swear you can hear audience members talking during songs - and puts you right there where and when it was recorded.

So where “Centuries Of Lies” or “Dying” sound relatively crisp and clean, “Intoxicated” or “Find The Arise" – recorded in Boise, Idaho, and Toronto, respectively – are more mushy and rough, the guitars sounding extra sludgy and the top end all but nonexistent. At times, Tardy's vocals dominate the mix. At others, Butler's spry bass lines or Donald Tardy's clanging cymbals are more prominent. But such is life for a death metal band touring the North American club circuit.

The live set itself is a satisfying mix of newer numbers “Centuries” and “Visions In My Head”, mid-period barnstormers like “Don't Care” and old classics “Find The Arise”, “Slowly We Rot” and the killer combo of “Chopped In Half/Turned Inside Out”. It's a nicely varied, nicely paced mix that doesn't bog down with too much slower stuff – like the 16-song set I saw at the 2015 Maryland Deathfest did – and is played with zeal by a veteran band obviously feeling a newfound spark. Let's just hope the excitement carries forward for longer than it did after the early years of the reunion.

3.5 Out Of 5.0

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