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Oh my fucking god. If there was ever a reason to think that the metal scene's apologism for crappy old-school death metal has gone too far, Obituary's Back from the Dead is most definitely the best album for the job. The 90s were never really a perfect time for death metal, which I think is something that a lot of people kind of subconsciously realize but refuse to acknowledge once they're actually listening to the music. This album is sort of where the illusion of perfection completely breaks for me - no amount of justification, no pandering to "well they used to be good, this is merely an evolution of their classic sound!" can possibly redeem the utterly laughable levels of failure this album achieves.
No, I haven't heard Slowly We Rot or Cause of Death and no, I don't think I need to have done so to explain why this album sucks so much. Back to the Dead is a really, really groovy death metal album; and from what I gather, Obituary have been doing that for quite a while now. Knowing that this is Obituary's "thing" only leaves me wondering more questions, like - how the fuck is it possible to make something so banal when it's what your entire career revolves around? I mean, everyone knows what kind of death metal I listen to, so I'm hardly asking for each track to reinvent the wheel or anything, but oh my fucking god this album is boring. The songwriting is horribly amateurish - every single track sounds so alike that it's pretty obvious that they're all in the same key, and Obituary make matters even worse by repeating annoyingly simple riffs over and over and over, presumably because they are/were incapable of adding licks or flair to any of the riffs they wrote. A lot of these riffs just sound like they were designed to be rhythm guitar tracks, but then the band never bothered to add anything on top of them to give them any substance.
The whole presentation plods around, and horribly. When it gets up to respectable speeds it ranges from mediocre ("Threatening Skies") to actually pretty fucking good (there's a cool riff around the 1-minute mark of "Inverted"), but a fat chunk of the album is stuck in this retarded slowish mid-pace, usually backed up by tom-tom fills or vapid kick drum patterns, that just waffles around in circles like a wheezing, morbidly obese person doing donuts in a mobility scooter forever. There are entire tracks of this album (like "Feed on the Weak" and "By the Light") that basically just function as breakdown sessions with none of the strength of an actual breakdown. The songwriting is shoddy as well; Obituary's riff transitions always feel distinctly "wrong", which is really quite amazing considering just how fucking samey the band's sense of melody is. Granted, Back to the Dead does have a lot of solos and they're actually pretty good - more melodic than the rest of the music, generally a bit more atmospheric, less uninspired - but whenever they're not around, it becomes painfully clear how dry the music is. You get a load of wandering, confused-sounding groove riffs that seem to exhaust every chord progression possible but still never stumble upon a cool-sounding groove even by accident, periodically topped off by a bunch of nasal, snotty rasps with practically no variation in tone, ever. I think the vocals would be decent if the music were faster, but in response to the perpetually rocking pace, the slurred rasps start sounding horribly overdone - not "tortured and agonized", but "I recorded all the vocals in a booth that smelled like my own farts and I strangely enjoyed it".
Back from the Dead is offensively bad; it's essentially like the very worst parts of Pantera melted down and transmuted to a death metal format, except with bonus lameness tacked onto the end in the form of a "death metal/hip-hop remix track" (in an ideal world, that phrase would never have to be used to accurately describe anything) that's probably even worse than you're imagining right now. This is what happens when a band makes retarded music but are actually kind of retarded themselves, so it's not really a cathartic bludgeoning like Jungle Rot or Devourment are, it's just pain and misery. What a fucking waste of human time and effort - if you ever get the urge to make an album that sounds like this, do the world a favor and go volunteer at a soup kitchen instead.
No need for blast beating or breakdowns. Also forget about 8 string guitars or bass guitars tuned to drop G. There's just no need. Hell no, Obituary manages to create the sludgiest, heaviest death metal sound with their regular 6 string guitars and 4 string bass tuned to D standard. Back From The Dead is easily one of my favorite death metal albums ever along with Six Feet Under's Haunted with twisted guitar passages, sickening vocals, groovy Celtic Frost style drumming, and disgusting lyrics, so you should definitely add it to your metal collection. Even if you're not the biggest metal fan, you still have to possess this true gem for you shall never regret it.
John Tardy has delivered some of the sickest roars without going to the deepest human vocal range or using any sort of vocal distortion and no exception is to be found here. Starting with the self-titled song Back From The Dead which features his classic monster roaring, creating a perfect zombie apocalypse atmosphere to crush some skulls and drink some freshly spilled blood. Regardless of the fact that he never changes his style, never does high pitched screams, gurgles, or pig squeals, John Tardy makes every song brutal and utterly heavy.
His brother Donald Tardy is definitely one of my main drumming inspirations, playing the most primitive yet aggressive beats with solid as fuck chops everywhere. The drums are perfect. Donald knows exactly what to play and when to do it and his drum kit has a very nice tone. He's able to craft some truly menacing sound with mean drum patterns all over the album with songs like Lockdown, Platonic Disease, and By The Light. The cymbals sound is perfect and the bass drum is just devastating. And don't forget the constant hardcore punk passages that Download and Threatening Skies demonstrate with steady d beats.
What makes this album truly special though is the abominable guitar work (in a good way). Somehow the riffs never get old. In fact, every time I listen to this album it feels more fresh and threatening due to the supreme riffs played throughout. Every track fills your ears with something completely different and unique. Besides, the gritty guitar tone makes it a million times better. There's a balanced bass and treble sound and enough reverb to make the most metal-sounding tunes. That and the bone chilling solos will live inside your head for days, maybe weeks, making the guitar work overall outstanding. In addition, the bass tone is crunchy and heavy yet perfectly audible. Don't expect the most technical bass slap techniques here, just old school metal bass that will make your speakers vibrate and your house shake, so I don't see why so many people dislike this album. I guess it's just not their taste. They can't really understand the groove that Back From The Dead oozes with every second.
Obituary's 90s predilection towards groove metal and hardcore reached its peak with their 5th full-length album in 1997. One must ignore the zombie strewn cover image and the bold, blood-dripping chrome of their masterful logo, because grisly and gory this is not. Really, calling it Back from the Dead was a bit of a misnomer, as this is no rallied return to the form of their career best (Slowly We Rot, Cause of Death) and in fact the band would dissolve into a hiatus for the following 5-6 years. More accurately, it's a natural extension of where the Floridians were headed with World Demise, only more palpably accessible to audiences outside the death metal sphere. In fact, the band has gone so far as to invite a pair of rappers for a remix of one of the new originals.
One instantly realizes just how tangible the hardcore/punk influence is once "Threatening Skies" launches into its emotional fast break. Really, this is almost straight up NYHC, and it would take only a slight moderation of John Tardy's presence for this to transform into a Sick of It All tune. That said, the song is probably the catchiest of the entire release, and Tardy's ghastly torn throat fits the mold with uncanny precision. There's another nice punk/death metal solo break in "Download" which deserves mention, but this is probably the limit of the straight core appeal. Beyond these, there are a number of tracks which successful develop a pedestrian groove reminiscent of something the band would have written between 1990-1994. "Platonic Disease" and "By the Light" are the best examples, with concrete hooks that are not at all unpleasant due to the thick production, bred for the moshing audience but certainly reflective of the band's huge Celtic Frost/Hellhammer influence. There are also a few half-baked grooves elsewhere, in "Feed on the Weak" and "Inverted", but neither is quite that consistent.
Then, of course, we have "Bullituary", an abomination of "By the Light" which features a pair of would be hip hop mavens known as 'The Bully Boys': Skinner T. and Diablo D. (try not to blow whatever you're drinking out your nose and ears). The two perform in a tough guy style not unlike Onyx, Geto Boys and the Boo-Ya Tribe, but like much of that mid 90s rapcore crossover, it's got no value beyond the riotous irony of its construction. There have been worse lyricists within the genre, and there's an interesting contrast when some of Tardy's original vox echo beyond the hip-hop verses into the Biohazard style gang shout sequence, but you don't need me to tell you that this is ultimately LAME. I reiterate what I've said in the past: it's not because there isn't potential for a band to come along and mesh rap and metal elements into a quality whole. It's that NO ONE had the tact and ability to do such. Thus we wound up with awkward, diminishing returns as the 90s progressed, and then the mighty fallout and ensuing mockery that humanity has thrust upon the majority of these mutants.
Granted, "Bullituary" was considered a bonus track for shits and giggles by the band, and it does sound like all involved had some fun with it, but the taint remains, further poisoning what is otherwise not a great album to begin with. Some credit is due here, because the production of the album is quite nice, John's growling cutting through the guitars wonderfully. Back from the Dead is far from the worst Obituary album, because despite the mash up of styles the band explored within, it's still more exciting than the enormously dull architecture of The End Complete or the pathetic comeback Frozen in Time, but it was not enough to contend with the yawning expanse of mediocrity that had plagued the band since their excellent sophomore album in 1990.
This was the last recording from the Obies back in 1997. Eight years have passed since they reunited to start working on Frozen In Time which pretty much follows the same line from BFTD of rhythm death metal with down-tunned distortion and less speedy songs.
What we get is an uninspired album and something that is far away from death metal, no matter how evolved it came to be. It was obvious that there was not much union in here, no power, no aggressiveness, no intelligent songs and nothing left. The only fast song is Threatening Skies and it has a punk feeling that is just annoying, and don’t forget that its length is 2:19min. so it could be an intro or a 70s punk song. By the Light follows and the slowlyness begins. Although I like the distortion of the guitars because of the doom feeling they have and we find some interesting riffs they lack power. I guess since The End Complete and World Demise were that successful they focused on more rhythm driven songs, which is ok but we expected more death metal in here, a-la old school. Platonic Disease is a mid tempo with double bass drums and it is an average song. Rewind follows the same line with slow passages ala Candlemass. The solos are no slashing any more because they are more rhythm driven which I consider another flaw on the album or, in other words, less points for BFTD. Feed on the Weak is again a doomy song and it is a totally filler to me. Lockdown follows the same path as Platonic Disease and so and so forth until we get to Back from the Dead and I say: what a damn boring song to close! I mean, it has no spirit at all, it is too slow and honestly I find it totally empty. At this point there is nothing left to say about al album that was kind of a farewell to one of the best death metal bands ever but no, there is more, an annoying rap in Bullituary and I do not comprehend why death metalers used to incorporate rap, Crimson Thorn did it too and honestly it is a complete nonsense.
The Tardy brothers are still in shape and the vocals are pretty good, the vomitory feeling is still there thou not so heavy as before to fit the music. I still love the drumming parts because I rather prefer rhythm and technical drums with textures instead of just fast and double bass drumming without any enjoyable parts. Tardy still manages to keep me interested listening to what he does. The production is good thou not the best.
I think that even with the awesome cover which makes you think you get death metal ala Cannibal Corpse you get fooled. This release can appeal to young death fans and modern metal but not to those who actually like ripping death metal because this is really boring so my friends, Obituary did not get back from the dead or the direction with this album but instead, they were straight into the pit to be buried alive…or dead!
This is easily one of the best, if not the best Obituary record to date. Its chock full of excellent doom riffage and groove, furthering the sound created on ‘The End Complete.
The album starts off by kick the listener in the head and it doesn’t stop until the second to last track. The production is pretty good given the time period and record label. The guitars are heavy, groovy and slow. The leads preformed by West admittedly aren’t as ambitious as they were on ‘World Demise’, but unlike ‘WD’ this album is actually good.
The bass does its standard of following the guitars. The drums on the other hand are brilliant. Donald Tardy is by far one of the most underrated drummers in the Metal scene. He never follows the crowd in his approach or style. He blasts and floods only when it works for the song. He is truly the best musician in the band.
The vocals are of course in fine form as well, with John Tardy providing his trademarked wretched and tortured shrieks and growls. Over all this is just one groovy Doom ride. This band, labeled as straight ‘Death Metal’ since its inception has really been more of a Doomdeath Metal band, at least on every record post Murphy.
This record doesn’t deserve ANY of the bad reviews its received over the years. This is truly a brilliant moment in both Doomdeath Metal and Metal in general.
This album from Obituary is quite different from the ones before. Well, after the great World Demise I was expecting something more from this great death metal band…but…To be honest I don’t hate this album (they’re always Obituary) but it sounds a bit “tired” and written too fast. Maybe after 3 years from their work before, the fans were asking for new material and the band was forced to write songs in a short period. I must say that, even not being so bad, this is their worst effort.
The opening track “Threatening Skies” is quite fast but extremely simple and predictable…well, from this band you cannot expect so technical parts but I must expect better ones!! The following “By The Light” song tries to be more evil and rotten with the mid paced riffs in typical Obituary style; the goal has been achieved, but not completely being a bit boring, but not bad; with a faster part in the middle.
“Inverted” song is in my opinion one of best ones here, with its strange, evil solos and a great fast part with a true fast solo. This song woke me up a bit, pure headbanging! The industrial atmospheres, so great in World Demise, unfortunately, are gone away, and with them a part of the true, evil atmosphere that is a trademark for every Obituary album.
John Tardy at vocals is still great and in tracks like “Platonic Disease”, or the punkish “Download” his voice is powerful and always gives something more to the music, creating a sick atmosphere. “Rewind” song is heavy, but a bit repetitive…sometimes the band is able to create the right doom atmosphere, while in other parts is too boring (“Feed On The Weak”).
The riff on the title track is very good, so rotten and sick but if it’s done 26457 times it becomes a bit boring! I don’t want even to say anything for “Bullituary” song. This is total crap! The song is filled with rap (!!??) voices and so on. I hate the fucking rap music!
Anyway this is not a bad album, but it’s too boring in some parts while some songs should be deleted from my and Obituary’s mind (should I say which ones?!). Surely this is not like their works before or after it.
This album is just a big BLAH, coming off the good "World Demise", I thought they would follow suit on this, and they didn't, this album just seems uninspired, like they didn't even try, I know Obituary can do much better than this, Most of the riffs (there are a few here and there that are somewhat good) just seem boring, flat, nothing to them, I would say that this is because Allen West spent to much time in that crappy band "Six Feet Under", and tried to incorperate in Obituary what he did with Six Feet Under, did not work obviously, the production is not that good, and Tardys vocals sound off...WAY off.
"Threatening Skies" Is short, and this song is pretty good, it sounds promising here, decent riffs, a nice solo, decent aggression, "By The Light" is pretty good too, even a bit better than Threatening Skies, the main riff is nice and catchy, the solo is good, this makes it look even more promising, "Inverted" is heavy, but fails to get the job done, just kind of boring, "Platonic Disease" is where the shit starts to hit the fan, there is nothing very good about this song, just a bunch of boring, flat riffs, no speed...just flat out boring.
The rest are pretty much all the same, the songs from Platonic Disease on in, just seem boring, dragged out, and "Bullituary"? GIVE ME A BREAK, this is totally worthless, it's "By The Light" remixed...with yes, RAP ARTISTS!, it does NOT work at ALL!, they took one of the only good songs on here, and ruined it, for SHAME!.
Can you imagine one of the biggest Obituary fans giving one of their albums a 20? (Only for the first 2 songs), but I cannot help it, this album is a disgrace, trust me, stick with the previous albums and Frozen in Time (The album after this) is much better, it's kind of what this should have been.
I really don't understand why this album is as underrated as it is. People bitch and moan about bands changing their style, but people also bitch and moan about bands not changing their style. Obituary have not changed a bit since their debut, and I really don't mind that.
I am personally a big fan of John Tardy's vocals. It breaks the boundaries of what Death Metal vocals should sound like. They aren't gutteral bellows from hell, rather, 'gutteral', high pitched, growling screams. Hard to explain. Imagine a drunk Adolph Hitler on speed, prehaps? I like them.
The riffs here are chunky, heavy, with lots of low-end and boom. Not as insanley technical as say, Gorguts, but not the stark simplicity of early Death. Just monster-riffage. The drumming is also good. The blast-beats aren't constant, but still manage to sound as brutal as any other Death Metal band you wish to compare them to. (That does not mean Obituary's drummer is as good as any Death Metal drummer. Pete Sandoval makes this guy look like a 3 Year Old banging on that drumset in the middle of the store).
The songs are really good, and fuckin' catchy. 'Threatning Skys' is heavy as all hell, with some good riffs. 'By The Light' is probably the best song on the album, with excellent riffs and a very catchy chorus. 'The Platonic Disease' has some of John Tardy's best vocal work from the album, and the Bullituary Remix sucks fucking dick.
Basically, I give this an 83 for the shitty-ass remix at the very end of the album, a few poopy songs ('Download' comes to mind), and stale lyrics. Not bad, not bad at all. But they can't, and never will, touch the godly status of say, Morbid Angel or Suffocation.
This album is Obituary's weakest album. I think it's below average. They can do better. I know they can. This is not the Obituary I know! Why did they release it? This is the worst Obituary studio album, hands down.
John Tardy's vocal performance is below average on this one. He's not that aggressive as he was on World Demise or previous ones. He doesn't sound really angry. You can definitely understand what he says on this one. You may hear some good growls on some of the songs, but that's about it. In the beginning of Platonic Disease, John does a good growl. In one point in Pressure Point he gains some momentum, but then sounds horrible in the long run. He sounds like he's litterally dying on this one!
The songs drag on Back From The Dead. To name a few, Download (you might as well download that one, it's bad), Rewind, and Feed On The Weak are songs that drag on and on. I like the fact that they sound sludgey... but they made other sludgy songs that did not drag on.
What's about with the song Bullituary (remix)? First of all, what happened to the original one? I want to listen to the original one! They should of included both versions on it. If there's a remix of the song, where's the original? That makes no sense. The remix is not fun to listen to. It's got really bad riffs on it. Plus, rappers are present on there! Yes, that's right, rappers in death metal song! I guess it was going to happen any day. I can tolerate some rappers, but they were just horrible nobodies! If they had some respectable rappers like Chuck D. or even Dr. Dre on there. Rap and death metal don't exactly mix. I'm sure in a few years, there will be a death metal act that will have rappers present on one of their songs.
If you got the enhanced version of this CD, don't expect something ultra cool out of it. Don't put it in your machine, it's not worth it! Nothing is special on there. It's not the making of the album. It would of been great if they made
Bottom line about this album is that Obituary is showing some signs of John Tardy and the gang slowing down. Hopefully, their next album (coming out in '05, possibly) will be much more aggressive with better riffing.