By: Alex Phillips
Label: Relapse Records
Available: October 28
Official Website: http://www.obituary.cc/
It first emerged in Florida in the mid-’80s, calling itself Executioner before shambling under the banner of Roadrunner Records and changing its name to Obituary. It’s one of those death metal bands that just won’t die. Or maybe it never lived in the first place. Maybe after years and years of indecipherable gurgling and vein-opening riffs, it transcended the everyday banalities of life and death that concern the living, and at long last became decomposing revenants bent on chewing out the inner ears of anyone who ever said death metal was dead.
Obituary have been spewing their gore-infected death metal in the world’s face almost as long as I’ve been alive. This band was old when I was high school. And while I appreciate death metal as an art form today (that’s right, fuckers, death metal is art), I appreciated it in a simpler and cruder way in 1997. Sometimes, sometimes, I actually miss those days of discovery. But when I listen to Inked in Blood (without the distraction of analyzing it for review purposes), the metalhead teenager I used to be rises up and says, “Holy shit, Obituary kicks ass! Fuck yeah!” and proceeds to headbang while the cats and my ten-year-old daughter look on without interest.
It hurts to headbang too long, so I shove the idiot teenager down so I can listen. Inked in Blood has that sludgy wallop early Obituary would flog you with, straightforward and highly polished, though it follows the same basic structures—not a bad thing, because Obituary does their thing well. Down tempo bludgeonings like “Pain Inside” echo similar drawn-out beatings from The End Complete and Slowly We Rot, and speed up suddenly with the same savageness. The John Tardy projectile growl still carries chunks, though nowadays you can make out the words in the alphabet soup he’s raalphing up. The themes haven’t much changed, but is Obituary going to start writing lyrics about Florida politics or going to the beach or whatever it is people in Florida do to amuse themselves? Probably not.
Here’s the thing about Inked in Blood: it’s an Obituary album, through and through. It’s angry and distorted with razor blades and quick to beat you down and slow to draw it out, like the album cover suggests. If anyone expected some radical departure from the tried-and-true for Obituary’s ninth album, well . . . the fact that the band raised something like $45,000 to crowd fund this album (when they originally asked only for $10,000) says a great deal about death metal fans.