Monday 20 October 2014

Obituary - Inked In Blood (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 28/10/2014
Label: Relapse Records

Inked in Blood CD/DD/LP track listing:

01. Centuries Of Lies
02. Violent By Nature
03. Pain Inside
04. Visions In My Head
05. Back On Top
06. Violence
07. Inked In Blood
08. Deny You
09. Within A Dying Breed
10. Minds Of The World
11. Out Of Blood
12. Paralyzed With Fear


Death metal legends OBITUARY make their Relapse debut with ‘Inked In Blood,’ their 9th full length LP.  Almost three decades in, ‘Inked In Blood’ stands out as one of the finest moments in OBITUARY’s already godlike discography.  The riffs, groove, snarl and rage are as fierce as ever, putting most all other contemporary death metal bands to shame.  OBITUARY are THE definitive death metal band, and ‘Inked In Blood’ is an instant classic amongst their already storied catalog.  OBITUARY are both the originators and the torch-bearers of the genre!   ‘Inked In Blood’ is the sound of true death metal kings reclaiming their throne!!! 

The Band:

John Tardy | Vocals (1984-current)
Trevor Peres | Guitar (1984-current)
Donald Tardy | Drums (1984-current)
Terry Butler | Bass (2010-current)
Kenny Andrews | Guitar (2012-current)


Obituary return, five years after their “Darkest Day” opus. Can they still cut it? Are there still heavy Celtic Frost stomping grooves? Will they have added blast beats? Will Ralph Santolla's six string mastery be missed? Here's my take:

First off, Obituary have always held a special place in my heart. Death metal without being particularly speedy, grooves are mixed into the mayhem and some really heavy sludge and doom influences can always be heard. Obituary are death metal, for sure, but they are also in a field of one in the genre. Those facts alone make another album worth celebrating. Regardless of how you feel about crowd funding, it can't be denied that those who invested got what they paid for. ‘Centuries Of Lies’ kick starts the album with a two minute burst of thrash pace and breakdowns. Good stuff and nice to hear that the idiosyncratic production tendencies of the band are present and correct- soupy guitars, odd sounding drums- all sounding very live- and a gnarly bass tone for new-ish recruit Terry Butler (ex-Death et al).

‘Violent By Nature’ brings rumbling grooves and riffs that get the head nodding like no other band. John Tardy's vocals are still a thing of wonder- very harsh, very unusual and perfect for the sound. Brother Don's drums are always a joy- simple and powerful grooves- well paced double bass and nice work all around the kit; the guy is a class act and never overplays, unlike many in the death metal genre I could name!

‘Pain Inside’ brings the patented slow Obituary stomp groove- sludgy, doomy and deathy all at the same time. Nice lead work from newest boy Kenny Andrews too. Trevor Peres keeps the rhythm work down and tight, just as he has done for nearly thirty years.

‘Visions In My Head’ has a nice stop start riff and percussive cymbal chokes before the tanks really start rolling and the band sets up a monstrous groove. Again, it's heavy stuff- but like Crowbar is heavy, not like Nile is. Some clean picked acoustic adds nice dynamics towards the end as does the lead wailing of Andrews.

‘Back On Top’ is another mid paced bruiser, all low riffing and dark imagery. ‘Violence’ is faster- but only thrash fast, lots of twin kick flourishes and an almost punk or hardcore approach to the structure make this one memorable and in an odd way, catchy. This is perhaps similar to the Tardy Brothers' offerings on “Bloodline” a few years ago.

‘Inked In Blood’ is a beast of a title track- slow to start with some interesting and purposeful riffs. The band seemed to have widened their approach to the songs this time around- they are not one paced and they don't use the same tricks on every track, something which has happened in the past. They seem more purposeful, more willing to change things around and use rhythms and dynamics to their advantage.

‘Deny You’ has that ‘Redneck Stomp’ feel to it- low and slow like a gator in the everglades- it's a predatory and vicious sound. It's a strong riff and the band make the most of it, playing around with it a little to make the bridges and construct a nasty little reptile of a song. Things change for the middle section but the familiar refrain returns to good effect.

‘Within Dying Breed’ is massively heavy, sticking with the sludge tempos again- no blasting off here, just feral marching towards the end of the record. Things do pick up pace, but not too far. The changes do allow for an excellent fadeout and crushing tom overdub though- kind of like the end of Megadeth's ‘Reckoning Day,’ but more direct!

‘Minds of The World’ is surprisingly nimble in the intro and it actually keeps this fleet of foot quality- Don Tardy plays particularly well here- lovely phrasing with crystal clear production (no hiding behind walls of reverb) as his hands and feet do call and response phrasing. Excellent stuff and classic Obituary material. ‘Out of Blood’ gives us one last groove at half tempo with cool mixing on the vocals as they pan around from line to line. ‘Paralyzed With Fear’ finishes strongly with that textbook double kick semi-quaver roll underpinning the guitars- it is like ‘Slowly We Rot’ amped up for a new age and it glorious to behold. Great leads, again, and a good performance all around with the weight of the production shining through.

Obituary can most definitely still cut it, with all elements of their sound present and correct. The album is more diverse than previous releases, but nothing too radical- no blast beats for example. The leads are well placed and well played and the whole band sound rejuvenated. One of the best death metal bands live, Obituary have not always hit the mark on record. On this one, they do, though. It's a strong album front to back with lots of reminders as to why the band is legendary in death metal circles. Incidentally, the stuff on offer here will also please those who prefer their sludge or doom to more deathly delights. It really is that heavy, feral and nasty.
Words by: Richard Maw

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