Veteran death metallers Obituary, from Florida, have returned with their latest studio album, titled Inked In Blood. The disc was crowd-funded by Kickstarter (later picked up by Relapse Records), so it should come as no surprise that these songs have been honed to a razor’s edge with demands from the band’s loyal fanbase in mind. Obituary are one of extreme metal’s few bands who were fortunate to hammer out a “formula” early in their career, and are wise enough to have stuck with it.
Music to the 12 songs on show was written by core members Trevor Peres and Donald Tardy; lyrics were penned by John Tardy. A nice mix of mid-tempo neck-breakers and sludgy doom-laced portions, the songs don’t have to go hyperspeed to hit blood and bone. As hated as making these “artist comparisons” are, here’s one for those of you who want referential points and can’t hit YouTube to check out the official video for a sound sample: it’s about equal portions ‘Morrisound era’ old-school Florida death metal, and (what Vallenfyre‘s Gregor Mackintosh would call) “Celtic Frost worship”.
This is a disc you’ll want in your car (or on your iPod) for those high-speed, long distance trips. With not a weak tune in the bunch, the consistency will hold your attention and emotion steady. For those who seek song-to-song variety (like on a rock album), Inked In Blood might not be perfect. One of the disc’s highest points is that each song is similar to every other song, lending the listen a fairly flat soundscape, which channels both anger and dismal hatred to perfection.
Compared to death metal genre pillar releases like Slowly We Rot, Tardy’s vocals are galaxies more intelligible, and higher pitched. Gone are the muttered groans and other ‘use of the voice as an effect’ motives. These guys are all-American, and some of the vocal lines sound very “European” with dialectical accents and all. Unusual and interesting for an album that’s ‘pure death’ to it’s blackened heart, there seems to be some experimentation with different tones on some guitar parts. It lends an added, unexpected, and appreciated dimension to the songs. Metal is all about the power of the riff, and Inked In Blood is one killer lick knotted to another. Like rock & roll icons AC/DC figured out ages ago, none of the riffs here sound overly complex or difficult – it’s all in the divisions and delivery. The drum sound from the toms can be a little odd in spots. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not all thump and bump – some of it has an abrasive, metallic overtone, which is a little strange for an acoustic drum kit to sound.
“Centuries of Lies” and “Within A Dying Breed” are both excellent songs, recommended. While “…Lies” tries to sever your spinal cord, “…Breed” uses the slow-and-steady approach to killing. Obituary’s well-known sound is stamped all over the disc; it’s unmistakably “them”. Inked In Blood is a beast of an album – a fiery, sizzling, pounding wall of sound. Not over-produced or over-thought, it certainly holds it’s own among the better quality death metal releases from the past decade. If you’re a fan of mid-tempo death metal done right, do yourself a favor and pick this disc up as soon as you can!
John Tardy – vocals
Trevor Peres – guitars
Ken Edwards Jr. – guitars
Terry Butler – bass guitar
Donald Tardy – drums