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This is Obituary's Sophomore release, their apogee. This is one of the ten or fifteen greatest death metal albums, which is interesting considering their sound. This album is pretty heavy, which is basically the reason it's at a 95. I really don't have a particular complaint with this album, as everything seems to come together nicely.
The vocals of John Tardy are pretty much as good as death metal vocalists go. As far as this zombie growl style goes, Drunen is the only one approaching him. He took what Becerra and Schuldiner had done and dragged it up many notches. It has the force of Dio's roar filtered through undead lungs and acts as the sonic representation of rot and decay. What he actually says is another matter. The actual vocal lines are pretty catchy, but there's not many of them. They also don't mean much. The meaning comes across more from the atmosphere and the general imagery of the words, these aren't short stories like most scenes. In a way, it reminds me more of a series of paintings all on the same theme, but from different angles.
The guitar playing is pretty different for death metal. Obituary cite Possessed and Celtic Frost as primary influences, and it shows. The lack of strong Slayer influence makes this sound very different. There are faster parts, but very little that actually goes much past Megadeth in pace. The Frost influence gives it a very sludgy, heavy, and primitive feel. The work of James Murphy on this album is much lauded. He adds a very different tone than Allen West did. Allen seemed something like a wild, simple animal on the solos, whereas Murphy's are far more focused and precise. I do miss Allen's sound, but Murphy is the better player.
The drumming here is kind of lacking. Donald isn't bad, but he's not doing anything special. He does a decent amount of double-bass, but nothing at obscene speeds. I'm not one for constant blast beats, but his is a little too rudimentary. One could make the argument that this primitive drumming fits, but I don't buy that argument. He really doesn't even have many fills or rolls. The bass is hard for me to hear, but that could be just me. The production is rather muffled, but in a good way. It gives it an excellent atmosphere, one I would liken to this being recorded inside a zombie. One can hear the instruments reverberating against the decomposing flesh, like organs that won't cease.
The rating for this album is rather hard for me to explain. I enjoy every one of these songs, and close to half are full-fledged classics. My qualm is that it just isn't memorable enough to merit a higher score. I remember this and that, but nothing is etched in my mind quite like certain other Florida acts. The music is also very similar from song to song, using the Celtic Frost formula of slow, doomy parts that contrast with relatively fast sections for a very heavy feel. Each song is individually awesome, but can be rather tiring strung together. This is still well worth hearing, it's essentially mandatory for death metal fans. I would likely also recommend it to fans of more aggressive doom, thrash, and any fans of Celtic Frost.
Forever and ever....amen.
We are all going to die and that makes us....dead men walking. There are only two questions that we don't know (at least the lucky ones among us), and constantly ask ourselves; How and when are we going to die? Well, I certainly hope my death is quick and doesn't involve being "Turned Inside Out." And, as if I really need to remind any of you, Obituary offers no consolation to the painful fact of our own mortality and pending departure into eternal darkness. All they promise to offer is a blunt, gruesome and horrific reminder of the ever looming shadow of death over our brief lives. As far as zeniths go, Cause of Death is unquestionably Obituary's. Never again will they conjure up the level of abhorrent, repulsive riffing and filthy, suffocating atmosphere of rot and decay found on Cause of Death--but such incredible albums rarely come along to begin with. Cause of Death is not a pleasant listen, to say the very least, forbidding its audience to have even a moment of rest (save that for when you're dead). It's as unrelenting and unforgiving an album as I've ever heard in death metal, permeating its putrid, rotting atmosphere ruthlessly, without losing a bit of the simple signature catchiness Obituary is known for.
The differences between Slowly We Rot and Cause of Death are minimal, as with most all of Obituary's work, but those seemingly subtle differences can lead to noticeable changes over the course of an entire album--analogous to evolution. Where Slowly We Rot was chock full of catchy vocals lines, Cause of Death retains that trait, while adding the best riffs Obituary has ever come up with. Each song is jam packed with one classic riff after another, and a good example can be found toward the beginning of "Infected" with its slow doomy sickly vibe (similar to "Slowly We Rot") to open the album, yet that's one of the worst riffs on the album!--and it's still a gem. Cause of Death also sees the introduction of more interesting and innovative drum patterns too from the other half of the Tardy duo; Donald. Slowly We Rot's guitar tone was much drier, crunchier and dissonant in texture, while Cause of Death feels more meaty, gooey and blood-soaked (or beer-soaked in Obituary's case), which would be taken to further extremes on the subsequent album; The End Complete. In addition, the vocals are less prominent and take a much more minimal approach in terms of both frequency and loudness. John Tardy's signature growls, groans and screams are as sick as ever, but there's less of them, and mixed more evenly with the guitars and drums than on Slowly We Rot. The most obvious example of all the changes I speak of from Slowly We Rot to Cause of Death can be heard on the aptly titled track; "Dying." Starting off with a fascinating cascade of drum fills and rolls, then driving into an interesting fragmented double bass pattern, only to end up at a slow painfully doomy crawl to end the song, as if any remaining life is now draining out and vanishing into the black void of death. All the while, John Tardy's vocals are scarcely heard throughout the entire song. Oh, they're present, but you must pay close attention to actually perceive them, as they are faint and restrained....like last words often are....most appropriate for a song called "Dying."
Another slight, but notable characteristic to Cause of Death is the creepy minimalistic ambient-like pieces found scattered throughout the album, with the ending of "Find the Arise" possessing the longest and most horrific illustration of this. These little ambient bits wouldn't be out of place if found in an 80s B-Horror flick, and enhance the gloomy dreadful atmosphere Cause of Death is so delicately trying to construct--with great success.
Obituary has always had a heavy (early) Celtic Frost influence in their sound, especially in riffing style and guitar tone. Both band's riffs have a savage groovy quality to them that are considerably straight-forward, while utilizing quick simple alterations between higher then lower chords with a chugging center to create the majority of the catchy rhythms. And what better way for Obituary to celebrate their greatest influence Celtic Frost by covering their most well-known song; "Circle of the Tyrants". The riffing traits mentioned above are glaring in this impeccable cover song, which I'd argue is actually even better than the original. You could even say Obituary was spawned forth from the evil depths of morbid metal destined to mutate "Circle of the Tyrants" into their own Frankenstein concoction--and damn did they succeed. They succeed so effectively that people unfamiliar with Celtic Frost's work could easily mistake this for an Obituary song. And who could blame them? It blends seamlessly into Cause of Death without even the slightest hitch and I can't imagine the album without it. Obituary's disgusting, horrific, blood-soaked guitar tone, and John Tardy's outrageous, gruesome vocals are what turned "Circle of the Tyrants" into a pure death metal classic, and possibly the best cover song I've ever heard.
Death metal's sheer essence is a nihilistic, repugnance of the awful truth that we are going to die, rot into dust and all that will remain....are memories, for a little while, until even those memories fade into obscurity, eventually forgotten with the passage of time. Cause of Death is the embodiment, almost a celebration, of that essence and is a pinnacle of death metal because of it. Very few bands have ever reached the levels of abominable anguish and grotesque disfiguration that can be found on Cause of Death (only Autopsy immediately comes to mind), and this is promulgated by John Tardy's boorish vocals and primitive, repetitive lyrics almost exclusively focusing on rotting and dying....practically to an absurd and comical level (you all know you sick fucks laugh at the misfortunes of others). Nearly every song recites rot or rotting or rotted or rotten and if not, DYING will appear....fuck....sometimes even both in the same line--it almost makes me sick to my stomach. Cause of Death is truly some of the most loathsome nightmarish music I've ever heard; from the foul, stench-riddled atmosphere, to the brutish, vulgar vocals and primal, pounding percussion--it's relentless. Every death metal maniac ought to have Cause of Death in their collection and listen to its macabre charm regularly, because never will you find a purer apotheosis of death metal expression.
Looking to hear some exploding, mind-boggling, ear-piercing, highly original and unable-to-top kind of death metal? Well, "Cause of Death" was created and reflects that kind of vibe within itself. It is so traumatizing, especially the vocals by John Tardy - talk about the sound of death!!! Well, it's a great line up, especially with who's hitting the lead guitar work, but nonetheless the immortal James Murphy. Clocking in some brutal, distorted rhythm work with chords galore and speeds slow, but daunting, Trevor Peres is in charge. Donald Tardy hits behind the set with precision and mortification.
An album ahead of its time, a time when the Floridian death metal scene was reaching its highest. Obituary makes a mark in the scene so high and with utmost originality as well as a sort of "best 'of" compilation of songs that can only be replicated by the band. While to me it does sound like a compilation album, but really is a full-length brutal release that features guitar chords chunky and thick with an atmospheric death rattle to it. James Murphy raids the lead department and yet again sparks with utter intensity, featuring leads that are fully compliant on the fretboard the same way he hit "Spiritual Healing" by Death.
Musicianship is at its highest with John Tardy spewing forth death, gore, etc. type of lyrics, rhythms that are marked well with that intensity, leads fitting the atmosphere perfectly, and a production perfected by Scott Burns. He seemed to top death metal recorders in the production department at the time where these original sounding death metal bands were producing sounds that are so captivating and skull-wrenching. The overall aura on here was not only the vocals, rhythms, leads and drums, but the whole atmosphere featuring the most deathly sounding music ever put forth onto the scene.
Yes, they did have many competitors playing death metal, such as bands like Death, Pestilence, Cannibal Corpse, et al, and yet at that time they seemed to be among the great musicians playing this kind of metal. However, lyrical concepts are what they are on here and it suits the music. That thick, grinding, choppy, and tremolo-picked rhythms were well thought out and James Murphy rips out that talent that he bestowed on lead guitar. Such a great musician that has succumbed to the possibly life threatening brain cancer the same way that Chuck Schuldiner did. Murphy seems to be in pretty bad shape nowadays and hopefully the Sweet Relief Foundation will find funds to save him.
Get the remastered edition of "Cause of Death" for it features bonus demo tracks and an augmented, atmospheric, and damn bloody good cast of musicians with one of the top producer at the time. The music, the band, the era, and the augmented scene of deathly dying of metal is depicted. This album to me remains among the top albums in the genre of death metal ever recorded. It is my view at least, having been into death metal for over 23 years. Trust me, I know as picky as I am with albums that this one is top notch. If you choose to own it, get it ASAP because of its utter brain-wrenching death metal that's ever been heard. Obituary's finest here on this recording.
This is my favorite Obituary album (though I do not own their latest release, "Darkest Day", so I can't speak for it!) The reasoning here is simple: with "Cause of Death", Obituary reached something deep within the soul. The band had already released a masterpiece, with the awesome "Slowly We Rot" foreshadowing a great career playing death metal and releasing great albums in the future, but with this album, things were different. The distinctive guitar player, Allen West, who is known for his bluesy soloing, and more "laid back" approach when compared to other death metal guitar players of the day, such as Trey Azagthoth or the Hoffman brothers, was replaced by guitar virtuoso James Murphy. Okay, virtuoso is probably pushing it, but the guy is a damn good guitar player. His style was completely different from what people would have been used to with Allen West in this position, completely ditching West's bluesy, atmospheric approach, in favor of something which valued substance over style. By this, I mean that West prominently made use of whammy bar and other such "stylistic" trademarks which helped craft a greater sense of imagery upon the band's music, while Murphy took on a more melodic and technical, yet extremely emotional (in my eyes, at least) approach that has the ability to make the listener fall to his or her knees, in tears, marveling at the sheer beauty. That is hyperbole, but rest assured, the solos on this album rock.
Look no further than the album's title track, "Cause of Death" (which also happens to feature some of the best lyrics ever penned by vocalist John Tardy), for a wild ride! The song's introduction possesses one of the most memorable and soul-shattering solos on the entire album, and it alone does wonders to justify why this album is so awesome in the first place. However, that's far from all this album has to offer. Why, the album's opening track, "Infected", makes use of an extremely moody, very unsettling solo before the track even gets going with the main riff, to great effect. In fact, "great effect" is probably a really good way to describe this album. Just about everything here is in tip-top shape. Donald Tardy's drum kit sounds better than ever, with his snare tone in particular shining as one of the production's most stellar aspects, and rhythm guitarist Trevor Peres not only nails us with some of the most powerful and brutal riffs of his career (2:57 in "Chopped in Half", for instance), but the riffs are perfectly represented within his extremely crunchy, almost chainsaw-esque guitar tone (it's still not quite the same tone as one would find on a Dismember album, though!). The bass guitar of Frank Watkins (another new-comer to the band, at this time), is easily recognizable, sitting beneath the more obvious sections of the band's music, and supplying backing brutality beneath the sawing guitar riffs. He's not a bassist of flair, but he gets the job done!
Back to talking of riffs and guitars, Trevor Peres also delivers some amazing riffs here (as previously stated). "Body Bag" opens with one of the catchiest and most memorable riffs on the album, and the riff at 0:33 in "Memories Remain" still haunts my dreams (accompanied by the ever so subtle "LIEF GAOS ANNN...EVEAN AFTA... DEAFFFTHH" line from John Tardy), and in all honesty, the overall approach that he takes to his playing is enough to cement him as one of the riff-masters of the genre. Unlike many, there is very little "showing off" to be seen, and you won't hear anything in these riffs that doesn't need to be there, and does not help advance the song further. Even his rhythm riffs which churn below the unreal shredding of James Murphy, and are often comprised of only two or three chords, are capable of sticking to the mind even when a melodic solo is shredding above (Gavin Ward of Bolt Thrower is another guitarist who deserves credit for doing this, as well).
And the final member who needs to be discussed is the man himself: vocalist John Tardy. This guy is my personal favorite vocalist in all of death metal, and with "Cause of Death", he proves why. If he sounded insane on "Slowly We Rot" (and he did), then he doesn't even sound human on this album. The sheer terror in the man's voice is simply unbelievable, but what's more, is his presence within the music. By this, I mean that it took me years to realize that there are actually only one or two lines of lyrics growled in the entirety of "Chopped in Half". To have such a strong presence, that the listener doesn't even notice when you stop singing, is something truly remarkable. He simply sounds like a beast which has been unleashed from it's cage! Of course, Tardy's vocal performance is one of the few aspects of Obituary's music which has never waned in any noticeable way, even 20 years on, so this should hardly come as a surprise to anybody who was already familiar with the band.
Another unique aspect of his vocal performance with this album, is his use of backing vocal tracks. I once heard King Diamond claim that there was "alot going on" vocally on the "Don't Break the Oath" album from Mercyful Fate, and I think this description probably fits this album pretty well too (though to a much lesser extent!). It's a rather hard thing to explain, though. When you listen to some of the songs on this album, for example the album opener, "Infected" (which is where the "backing vocal" tracks are probably at their most prominent), you will hear a main vocal track of John Tardy growling along, while a side track sticks in a few words here and there. At other moments, such as the breakdown of "Body Bag" (which occurs at about 2:19), you will hear a backing track supply terrifying screams below Tardy's already maddening death grunt. This particular method of "double tracking" doesn't appear to be very common these days, where bands choose instead to copy the Deicide method (and if you don't know what that is, listen to any Deicide song from the "Scars of the Crucifix" album!), which I think is rather sad. Like I said earlier, this helps enhance the presence of Tardy's voice, giving the listener the impression that they are in a room filled with demonic, grunting entities (which is much more brutal than having two different styles repeat the same line...), or perhaps they are hearing sadistic voices in their heads, taunting them and urging them to kill? In either case, the vocals of John Tardy are clearly great on this album, and do wonders to enhance the atmosphere into something far beyond anything the band ever had done or ever would do.
There is so much more to talk about with this album, but in the end, I shouldn't need to explain further. If you don't already own this album, and are considering buying it...go ahead and do it, you won't regret it.
Released on Roadrunner Records, in September 1990, Cause of Death is the second full-length album from Obituary. Recorded and mixed at Morrisound Studios, this L.P. featured two new members, with James Murphy (freshly ejected from Death) and Frank Watkins replacing Allen West and Daniel Tucker on guitar and bass, respectively. The horror artwork used for the cover matches the atmosphere fairly well, though label mates Sepultura initially planned to use it for their 1989 release, Beneath the Remains. The band's sophomore effort took the intense and morbid approach of Slowly We Rot and added an epic quality that few others dared to attempt. The end result was a memorable record that stands as a classic of American death metal.
My first exposure to Obituary was through the track "Chopped In Half", which was only the tip of the iceberg when one thinks about the incredible songwriting found on Cause of Death. Some months later, I saw a kid at school with an Obituary shirt and started talking music. Since he lacked any real knowledge of Thrash, I ended up trading him a mix tape that featured a lot of Testament songs in exchange for a dubbed copy of Obituary's second album. The cassette hardly left my tape player for the next several months, as it completely killed most of the death metal that I possessed at that time, with the exception of the early efforts from Death and Morbid Angel.
From the opening moments of "Infected", the epic atmosphere begins to unfold. Some of it has to do with the intros and outros that are included in many of the tracks. This adds something to the overall vibe, but also connects the songs in such a way that they really seem to be pieces of a greater whole and flow well from one to the next. James Murphy's lead solos also have a lot to do with the atmosphere, coming off as much more ambitious than what his predecessor was capable of. John Tardy's sickening vocals sound possessed and filled with a deathlike hatred. The material is quite dynamic, with a good deal of variation in the tempos. This is done in a natural manner, as the songs develop and draw the listener in. One can easily hear the strong Celtic Frost influence in many of the crushing, mid-paced riffs. These, typically, lead into faster riffs that sound more inspired by the likes of Slayer. Of course, they go so far as to record a cover of "Circle of the Tyrants", from The Emperor's Return. Due to the style of songwriting, this fits into the album quite well and many may not even notice that it is a cover song, since it blends in so well. However obvious the bands heroes may be, there is still a sense of uniqueness to the songwriting that belongs to Obituary, alone. The band absolutely had its own identity by this point. Unlike many of their peers, they often let the music do the talking for longer periods of time than what many would consider normal, with tracks like the updated version of "Find the Arise" and "Dying" almost seeming like instrumentals due to the sparse vocal contributions. The feeling conveyed is like walking some ancient graveyard, with an eerie fog hovering over it and the moon prominent in the night sky. Yet something is not right, as many of the graves and crypts are open and the stench of death is ever-present. The melodic solos sort of give things an otherworldly aura, as if this realm of decay is inhabited by some malevolent force. There is a gloomy feeling and a sense of dread that chills your skin, at times. The material on Cause of Death is haunting and memorable, featuring some of Obituary's best work.
The sound is pretty clear while not being overproduced, at all. Having been recorded at Morrisound, this album possesses a very similar production to nearly every other death metal album that was recorded there, around the same time. During the faster parts, one could easily exchange the riffs for a similar piece of a song from Spiritual Healing, Deicide, Harmony Corruption, The Ten Commandments or any number of others and one would be hard-pressed to notice. While the band may have benefited from going to a different studio, the sound does not do much to damage the impact of the music and Obituary's superior songwriting still manages to shine through.
Cause of Death is an essential slab of early death metal. While The End Complete may have sold more copies, it was off of the hard work put forth by Slowly We Rot and Cause of Death that it did so. The band would never again reach this level of creativity or overall quality. This material kills what most other death metal bands were releasing during that same year and is an absolute classic of the sub-genre. This comes highly recommended and should be a part of any self-respecting Metalhead's record collection.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com
Obituary is another case of a killer beginning and no follow-through, despite their rather deep legacy. To be fair, their live shows are quite kick ass and they had a smattering of decent tracks on the albums World Demise and Back from the Dead. But their recent work leaves much to desire, a dull retread of ideas that the band already mastered on the only efforts that really mattered: Slowly We Rot and Cause of Death. The former is a legend of the death metal genre; it may seem silly these days, but Slowly We Rot was all the talk of the town when it first dropped, for the unbelievable vomit soaked vocals of John Tardy and the guttural violence of the Slayer/ Hellhammer influenced guitar work. Cause of Death was actually restrained by comparison, but the style remained intact, and the writing more effective and 'mature'. It remains my absolute favorite of this Florida execution squad.
"Infected" begins with a brief industrial repetition before evoking a wall of slow, gloomy chords. Haunting leads strike off like matches to the 'swing' of the grim atmosphere. Then the song begins to grind and Tardy emits his horrific and awesome vocals, easily among the best of the death metal pioneers and remaining so (the order of the day seems to be out-gutturalizing the rest of the scene, yet Tardy is still heavier than all these fuckwits combined). There are points where his voice will just merge into the carnal landscape of slight leads and the effect is entirely creepy. "Body Bag" follows with a catchy thrash riff and excellent vocal pattern, then the bluesy bridge. Obituary can easily evoke doom-like power in the simplicity of a few chords, and frankly were at their best when doing so. Tardy's presence just makes it all the more volatile. "Chopped in Half" uses a vocal pattern to create the mid-paced, desolate forward lurch of its cumbersome heaviness. The cover of "Circle of the Tyrants" here is one of the best Celtic Frost tributes I've heard, taking the original of Tom G. Warrior & crew to the next logical conclusion. It's also fitting because Hellhammer/Celtic Frost is a tremendous influence on the riffing of Trevor Peres (the restless guitar mercenary James Murphy also performs on this album). "Dying" has a strong flow and groove to it, while "Find the Arise" once again makes great use of a vocal intro to lead the wave of destruction. The title track is another of the slow death/doom variety, with a great thrash pick up and perfect death metal chorus.
Yet, the best song here and my favorite Obituary piece has to be "Memories Remain". It has a similar structure to "Cause of Death" but creates the most amazing fucking death/doom atmosphere during the chorus, as Tardy grunts Life goes on... even after death... life goes on. The leads are shrill and expertly delivered, and this song is really the very definition of 'death metal'. Evil and brooding without needing even the trace of complexity. "Turned Inside Out" is actually another great track to close out the album, with some catchy chug and groove.
Cause of Death sounds deep and menacing, the perfect accompaniment to an evening in the morgue. The lyrics are vague and minimal, and honestly, all that is required here. Imagine the bodies of murder victims rotting in the steam of the Florida night. Imagine you can polymorph these visions into actual music. Voila: I give to you Obituary, circa 1990. Cause of Death (and it's predecessor Slowly We Rot) is one of the true classics of USDM, coming right at the 'cut off' of the earliest years for this now oversaturated genre. It sounds every bit as vibrantly evil and threatening as it was almost 20 years ago, and belongs in the collection of every death maven who doth not reek of poseur.
This is one of those classic examples of an album which I used to love but slowly began to forget and at times even dislike over the years. Eventually I even sold my original copy. Recently a friend brought it along and I listened to it again for the first time in 10 years and no, my opinion is still the same. I just don’t like it anymore.
Now what is it that makes ‘Slowly we Rot’ such a classic to me but ‘Cause Of Death’ fall from grace. Two things, the compositions and production. The average pace here is slower. Even though it picks up at times for some reason on each fast part John Tardy simply won’t sing, making these rare up tempos sections sound like intermezzo’s and breaks instead of substantial parts of songs. Where’s that raging chorus or verse? I’m really missing those. Where’s the relentless assault we had to endure on ‘Slowly we Rot’?
Because of this the majority of catchy moments on the album is built around mid- or slow paced elements. But due to the length of most songs I get bored (with ‘Find the Arise’ being the only exception). A good example would be ‘Chopped in Half’. Great opening, the tension is there but then it just goes on and on, incidentally picks up speed but never fully comes to a climax.
The better balance between slow and fast material made ‘Slowly we Rot’ a much more cohesive album. And what emphasised this was the dirty production. The guitars did have the Celtic frost touch to them but sounded 10 times dirtier. On ‘Cause Of Death’ the guitars are a bit more polished and light weight, damaging the intensity and making the band sound more like a Celtic Frost tribute band with extreme vocals than a reinvention DM style.
And even though Mr. Murphy technically is a better guitarist, I truly miss West’s ‘evil’ wankery here. I’m really missing it. I’m missing too much on this album. Well, there it is! Infected, Find the Arise and the Celtic Frost cover Circle of the Tyrants. The only three songs I still enjoy hearing. And that’s not a good sign.
The first Obituary album I got was Xecutioner's Return, which I am pretty sure was my first death metal album as well. I liked that so much I decided to by the Two From The Vault: Slowly We Rot/Cause of Death. Slowly We Rot is a good albums and I probably prefer it to Xecutioner's Return but Cause of Death is just amazing. It's easily my favourite release by Obituary.
The thing I like about Obituary when you compare them to some other death metal bands is that they understand that being brutal is not always about speed. There are some cool fast parts on this album but there are also slow parts which are just as brutal. As well as that each member of the band is great on their instruments.
The guitars are great. There are some great, aggressive riffs which will stick in your head for a long time afterwards and the solos are also great. James Murphy is a great guitarist and I think it’s probably his influence that makes this album my favourite. The songs are longer than on Slowly We Rot and most of them are definitely more technical, although they still retain the brutality of the debut. The drums are excellent whether they are playing speedy machine gun rhythms or cool slower ones. After listening to this album I found myself with the drum beats in my head for days afterwards. Finally, the vocals. John Tardy is one amazing growler/screamer. He barely sounds human on this album. If you listen carefully you can just understand the sickening lyrics which fit excellently, I mean, come on "Chopped in Half, Feel the blood spill from your mouth", you don't get much better than that in death metal.
It's hard for me to say the best songs from the album because they are all so good. I like all of them but some more than others. Infected, Body Bag, Chopped in Half, Memories Remain and Turned Inside Out are probably my favourite songs. Circle of the Tyrants is good; I haven't heard the original so I don't no how it compares though. The other songs, Dying, Find the Arise and the title track are all good death metal songs but the ones I mentioned before really stick out.
Obituary is one of my favourite bands and this is my favourite releases by them. This album is essential death metal listening and any fan of Obituary or death metal in general who doesn’t have this album should go out and buy it today, or be shot.
Obituary is a band that has become synonymous with death metal, and yet they are one of those bands that have an incomparable and unique sound. The band's debut album, “Slowly We Rot” was an instant classic, but in my humble opinion, the album that turned them into legends was this album. Cause of Death. While their contemporaries Deicide and Morbid Angel were focusing on the blasphemous and atmosphere of their music (in two completely different ways) and with Cannibal Corpse and Suffocation concentrating on the hammering brutality of their interpretation of death metal, Obituary chose to follow a different path. In 1990, Obituary managed to create an album that was far more atmospheric than what Morbid Angel had released up till that point, and they also were able to give birth to a sound that was far more crushing and... inhuman than that of Cannibal Corpse.
This album is very similar to their previous effort, “Slowly We Rot” but at the same time it is a completely different entity. While SWR was a somewhat juvenile album, it was still undeniably fun and helped push the boundaries for death metal. The songs on it would go from “squishy” fast sections to slow and sludgy doom sections. Here, Obituary cleaned up the production and the signature sound of their debut album was lost, which wasn't really a bad thing, and I will explain that later in this review. Also, Obituary developed the doom influenced side of their music more, but this time balanced the fast and slow parts well, while at the same time retaining the spontaneity of their debut. Lastly, the vocals of John Tardy are deeper, much deeper in fact, and even though they don't sound as “sick” as before, they certainly do sound better.
The focus on the general atmosphere gives “Cause of Death” its signature sound. The general theme that surrounds the album is that of decay and the process of dying, and I like to compare listening to this album to walking in a graveyard in the middle of the night. The songs don't conform to any predefined structure and wander around aimlessly until a guitar solo pops up out of nowhere to lure the unsuspecting listener into the music, and undeterred by the ghastly vocals of the immortal John Tardy, you sink further into the album's cold embrace. It is unbelievable that despite the fact that “Cause of Death” is such an ugly and demented album from the inside, the clean production and James Murphy's godly shredding manage to make this album so accessible.
Someone once told me that without the riffs, death metal would just be some dude growling. While I would be perfectly happy just listening to John Tardy spill his own brains out while “singing” the lyrics, the riffs here are truly magnificent. As I said before, there is an atmosphere of decay here, and that is in no small part due to Trevor Peres' riffs. Another wise human once told me that you could identify if Obituary was playing just by the sound of the riffs, and it is 100% true. The riffs are imaginative and lead the songs over and into strange and gloomy caverns, the kind where you could spend your entire life searching for any hint of light but without any success. The drummer, Donald Tardy is always happy to oblige, showing off his versatility and agile drumming ability by throwing in intelligent fills where necessary and showing great restraint in the fast sections by not going too fast. The restraint he displays during the faster sections makes this album even better because the drums don't distract the listener from the thing that matters – the atmosphere.
Of course, everything what I have written about the album so far doesn't really matter because brilliance cannot be accurately described in words. The two stand out songs are “Find the Arise” and “Circle of the Tyrants” but they are certainly not the best songs. Why? Because every song here is a classic. From the slow “Body Bag” to the imaginative “Turned Inside Out,” every song here is a tribute to the one real thing in this world. Death.
Cause of Death - Obituary
Just what can I say about this death metal masterpiece? This is an album by one of the first death metal bands ever to exist and what an album it is. Obituary are definitely not much similar to other death metal bands and they have their own trademark and completely different sound. The foundation of their sound is the mid-paced, brutal yet groovy riffing of Trevor Peres with a rotten guitar tone automatically recognizable as Obituary. Beneath the riffs what make the songs even heavier are the amazing drums played by Donald Tardy. He doesn't utilize much blast-beats but rather lays down amazing beats and double-bass which contribute to the rhythm of the songs. Then there's the most recognizable aspect of Obituary's sound: The animal-like voice of John Tardy. Words won't do his mixture of an animalistic growl and raspy roar justice. In fact you'll have to listen to it to experience how good it is. And then although not found on other Obituary albums, is the presence of James Murphy. This man is an amazing guitar player and here he lays down some of his best shredding solos which add a sense of sinister melody to the songs. Another amazing aspect of their sound are the morbid doomy passages in which the tempo dramatically slows down and John's indecipherable growls get louder than ever. These passages appear ocassionally within songs and I only have three words to describe them: heavy as fuck. Overall the mixture of all these elements create Obituary's signature sound which has not been replicated with such effectiveness to this day.
The album itself is filled with classic and unforgettable death metal songs, the most instantly recognizable being "Chopped In Half". This song starts off with such crunch in the first minute following up with about two minutes of amazing riffs and double-bass and then ending with one of the best solos James Murphy has played. Its so good and technical at the same time that even Obituary's long-time guitarist Allen West cannot replicate it live. Another classic Obituary song is the title track. That song starts with a morbid and doomy solo which creates an atmosphere of horror and then Tardy's vocals and riffs take over for the next two minutes. The song has a great and catchy (for death metal standards) chorus and then the last two minutes are left to the instruments alone. Other songs such as opener, "Infected" and "Body Bag" all carry meaty riffs and tons of amazing James Murphy's melodic shred-fests and are overall enjoyable songs. Another worthy mention, "Dying" hypnotizes you with its riffs and the double-bass backing it and it goes on for about three minutes where if someone dared you not to headbang, without a doubt you'll lose.After about 3 minutes, John Tardy's voice comes in to create the ultimate climax to the song. All the songs are amazing but the one which I'm usually tempted to skip is the Celtic Frost cover of "Circle of the Tyrants". It isn't bad by any means but it just doesn't compare to some of the other songs on this record. Another thing which I like about this album and overall Obituary is how John Tardy never annoys with his voice. His voice is the type that after a while if the vocalist uses it too much it gets tiring but he never lets that happen in this case. That's because he only uses his voice when its suitable in the songs and when his voice will get most effective. This leads to the songs being instrumental about at least 40-50% of the time and this is not a bad thing at all. Minutes go by without vocals and you're just hypnotized and banging your head to the riffs and double-bass.
I've been listening to this album for about 7 months now and it hasn't lost its effectiveness at all yet. Obituary is a great band and this was is their best album and they never created an album of like this again although the follow-up to this "The End Complete" and their debut "Slowly We Rot" are also great albums. I think the main reason of this is James Murphy is not present on the other albums and he was one of the reasons which made this album so good. This is a great album and essential to anyone wanting to get into or is a fan of extreme and death metal. Highly recommended.
By the end of the 80s and the beginning of the 90s, several bands was born for the new genre that was exploding worldwide, the death metal. The most famous ones were Death, Morbid Angel, Deicide, Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation and Obituary. Among these ones, I always felt fascinated the most by Obituary for their music style and gore approach. The debut album was yet raw and too brutal but it started something else in this field and the originality was already present.
It’s good to notice how those bands were so different in their styles and attitude because the genre was new and everyone was inspired by different sonorities to re-create a personal one. Anyway, one year after their debut, the rednecks came back with their strongest effort ever: Cause of Death. The violence, the sickness and the brutality of this album remains unmatched in the future band’s production.
This album can be seen as their most twisted one in their discography because, unlike the other albums after, here the band uses one of the most important characteristics that made their sound so famous: the gore/obscure intro to the various songs. Actually, they are just gloom, obscure synth sounds to bind together the different songs to create a continue bloodbath without interruptions. It’s a sort of concept album for this reasons…it’s like an only one, big song. These atmospheres are morbid and truly gore.
Other things you notice immediately are the better production, if compared to the debut and the songs structures. They are far more mature because here are less impulsive than in Slowly We Rot, with lots of the doom tempos they needed to make their sound so original and morbid. The guitars distortion always reminded me the Celtic Frost one under the sign of death metal. I always labelled Obituary as “the Celtic Frost of death metal”. “Infected” and “Body Bag” are great for the doom parts perfectly alternated to up tempo. They’re two classics among the Obituary compositions.
John Tardy vomits the soul on this CD, being the most powerful death metal growler of all time and on this album we have the proof. None could match his intensity and originality in this field. The throne is for him. “Chopped In Half” I believe is the most representative example of his fury while the song is simply amazing, thanks also to the solos of the great James Murphy. As a tribute of their influences we can find also the perfectly executed “Circle of The Tyrants” cover by Celtic Frost, here even more devastating and twisted.
“Dying”, “Find the Arise” (check out the hyper smashing beginning), that originally was written when they were under the name of Xecutioners; the famous gore arpeggio at the beginning of the title track; the locked up riffage of “Memories Remain” or the galloping guitars parts on “Turned Inside Out” run after each other in a continue symphony of death through black as pitch atmospheres, violent up tempo and gore slow down. One of the most representative death metal albums of all time and surely the sickest one. Honour and glory to Obituary.
I started my listening of death metal with The End Complete so naturally the second thing i listen to is going to be another Obituary release and boy I wish I started with this one. Cause of Death is the best Obituary release and just one listen you can hear why.
This hell ride starts off with a monster of a track called Infected which has some of the best most horrifying lyrics about getting an infection it makes you never want to get one. This album has some of the greatest riffs and drum blasts known to death metal it also has some of the most disturbingly gruesome lyrics of its day.
I would tell you what tracks I think are the best on this but there is no point because all the tracks on the album fucking rules. To get right down to it this album can be summed up in three words MANDATORY TO HEAR. This album holds one of my favorite death metal songs of all time Chopped In Half. The song doesn't have many words but who gives a fuck its all about the fucking guitar and drum work. The cover of Celtic Frost's "Circle of the Tyrants" is one of my favorite covers because it captures both the essence of Celtic Frost and Obituary you can clearly hear both of them in the song which is very odd. The title track starts off with a very creepy intro solo that just gives you chills when you first hear it. It is like one of those things you would expect to hear when a killer is about to attack his prey in a movie.
This album is a classic. It doesn't matter what type of metal you listen to this album is just great and everyone should hear it. Expect to hear great musicianship on this release like all early death metal. The solos and riffs on this album just shred it up. This album just helps prove that early Florida Death Metal was the best.
While I won't be listening to this CD too often, nor will I ever listen to the CD twice in a row, I certainly would consider this a fun release to listen to. The scream is rather obnoxious initially, and kills any atmosphere established by the dramatic intro to the album. This CD is enjoyable, however, if you just want something to listen to while angered about something; it's extraordinarily high-energy. Not only is it high energy; it's intelligent as well.
Included on this CD is hardly noticable yet solid drumming. The guitars, obviously, are the primary focus on this album. At times lightning fast, and at other times droning and dark, the guitars guide you through a hellish journey of a lively cemetary. Quite simply, it's haunting.
There is hardly anything to say about this album aside from the fact that the imagery is part of what makes it, and the energy the other part. It's fun to listen to, and serves as either background or foreground music. I highly recommend it.
The first time I listened to this album was back in 1991 and I was a 14 year old kid totally unaware of what Death Metal was. A friend of mine, who had the most potent sound system I ever saw to that date invited me to listen to "something REALLY heavy".
The heaviest thing I heard back then was Sepultura's "Arise". Something that took me some months to digest. I couldn't really believe in that time that something heavier than that could actually exist, so I accepted the invitation.
He turned off the lights so that only the orange leds of the sound machinery gleamed in the dark.
Then, like a wind from the darkest cemetery echoed the intro, followed by warning drumbeats... ( Later I would say that it was a typical Scott Burns intro ).
And then the sickening melody of "Infected" stepped in... like something stumbling out from the ground below... trying to reach the surface. Dense, bassy Florida sound waving a funereal melody of a morbidity I never experienced before.
The song finally blasted out of the speakers and I felt just like being hit by a nuclear warhead. Double pedals and shredding guitar riffage ravaged my ears making my worst childhood nightmares come true.
And the voice.... that voice was something completely out of the scale! I was totally confident that the voice I was hearing was being screamed by a corpse in a very advanced putrefaction state.
The minutes that followed were a journey into the darkest landscapes ever rendered by the imagination of a human being. It was just like stepping into the album's cover illustration. That moment I knew that the sound I was desperately trying to bear would be the love of my life forever after.
That was how I was introduced into the Death Metal realm. That was how I first met Obituary's "Cause of Death".
Eleven years later I see myself as a Death Metal freak. And even now I can guarantee that this album is unparalleled.
There are no blastbeats. The sound is magnificent and independent of speed.
Superbly crafted rhythm sections unfold dubious tonal poetry embodied in ambiguous layered riffage. The atmosphere is dark. All melodies are like a call from the grave giving the listener an unmatched sense of space and ambience.
Lumbering, bass intensive doomy passages deconstruct abruptly into viral shredding guitars tearing everything aroung. Actually the guitars sometimes resemble blades cutting relentlessly whatever dares to face them.
The song "Dying" is a perfect example.
I dare to say that James Murphy makes in this album his most memorable moments. His guitar solos are of extreme beauty. The intro of the title track might have the most beautiful morbid melody ever.
John Tardy's voice is unrivaled. Even today I cannot even think of someone comparable to him. His work adds the finishing touches to the album through truly dramatic performances. That is what I call "corpse expression". It is impossible not to imagine that he is that guy in the cover of "Slowly We Rot".
The Celtic Frost cover "Circle of the Tyrants" is far better than the original and is still the best version I ever heard, crushing the inexpressive Opeth version (and I love Opeth).
Buy this album. It is a must have.
It embodies all that is Death Metal. Completely.
Check out for the reissued version. It comes with great bonus tracks and a remade booklet with liner notes about the band.
Ahhhh man, how of a great album Cause of Death is... I finally decided to PAY Obits for this CD and to actually buy the real CD instead of only having the MP3 because this album is really cool to that point. it all starts with a beautyful yet very macbre drawing and the music contains some effects in between the songs that seemingly try to "emulate" all the atmosphere that this cover creates in our brains.
The sound, pure Death Metal brilliance, delicious riffs, songs like "Chopped in Half" and "Dying" "Find The Arise" are actual examples of how death metal bands should sound like, these songs sound agonizing, depressive, dark songs but still with the aggression that is characteristic of Obituary, I´d say its aggressive, dense, but its not "putrid" Death Metal like Napalm Death or Suffocation for example, and that may be the reason I liked both Cause of Death and Slowly We Rot so much even not being a real death metal fan. The music altought already being clearly death metal with a very dense ( thanks to Scott Burns ) sound still carries some euro-thrash root ( I mean, the Thrash/Death Metal of bands like early Kreator and Sodom ) and do not dwell in the straight gutural brutality of most of the so called "brutal death metal" bands. The voice of Trady is wonderful, aggressive ( sounds like a lion punking his last meal ) intense, but without falling onto the "cookie monster" cliche of death metal of sounding like an angry bear all the time. Don´t be mislead by the label "death metal" if you´re not a death metal fan but is still into Kreator, Slayer you´ll certainly dig this and "Slowly We Rot".
Hear that? That solid 'thunk' you hear is not only the sound of Donald Tardy's rock-soild drumming grinding your head into the floor, it is also the sound of the headsman's axe removing your melon from your shoulders to finish your miserable little life.
This was, in my opinion, one of the few really good early-90s death metal releases. Granted, it had the usual Scott Burns "mushtone drone" (term copyright Me) production values with dense walls of guitar dominating most everything else except for the drums (which had a somewhat dry yet distant sound to them), but the power of Donald Tardy's hitting and that ungodly guitar tone of Trevor Peres made a biiiiig difference! Trevor, in my book, is one of the very few successors to the title of "Heaviest Guitar Tone This Side of the Vintage Celtic Frost Albums" with that unholy downtuned grunge tone of his, by the way.
The opening of "Infected" alone, with its simple and well-placed alternation of sustained regular power chords and flatted fifth (first-inversion) power chords sets the pace perfectly, with its ultra-evil and menacing sound over pounding tom-toms. Gives me chills to hear it! The rideout is the same thing and Trevor milks it to perfection with its repetitive mantra-like feel. The song itself is classic Obituary, midpaced verses going into thrashy choruses with ample amounts of doom riffing--those ringing chords and John Tardy's undead howls will scare the shit out of most anybody. John was unique in his approach, with his incoherent screams and roars fitting the music in such a way that nobody else would have been able to fit in like he did.
The rest of the album follows suit: "Chopped In Half", "Body Bag", "Dying", the title track...it's all good. Yeah, you can't understand a word coming out of Tardy's mouth 99% of the time, but so what? It works perfectly, and with a more refined vocalist and actual lyrics, this would have been cheesy as hell. This album has pace, dynamics, and aggression to spare, and it shows off all those things in a surprisingly coherent and structured manner.
Thundering through their tunes with deliberate and merciless intent, Obituary needed something special to really elevate these tunes to the next level, and they got it in James Murphy. Say what you will about his mercenary nature, his playing is stunning in its beauty and adds an extra degree of class and taste to the proceedings. Even their cover of the most overcovered tune ever, Celtic Frost's classic "Circle of the Tyrants", sounds right on, and his soloing flies high over the band like an eagle with its wah-wah-soaked intensity, leaving the limited approach of original guitarist Allen West in the dust. Murphy has both technical prowess and impeccable taste, as well as sweet and fluid tone, and his soloing was the right thing for every song, no mindless wankery at all.
This album is a sincerely perfect wall of sound, a piledriver, a bulldozer personified. If you own only one album of this band's, make it this one, because it sums them up beautifully. And the additional bonus of killer lead guitar work only makes it better than it already was. Buy, buy, buy, if you can find it, since Roadracer is now a suckass nu-metal asskisser label and probably won't reissue this any time soon.
Obituary released Cause Of Death back in the days when people realised that you didn’t have to simulate masturbation with your fret board to innovate in death metal, and playing extreme music really fast does not make you the winner, cause Dark Angel already won the race in ‘86 (unless you’re ‘otherwise abled’ in which case you’re always a winner). Cause of Death took things a step forward by distilling the raw essence of the genre (probably from zombie’s eyeballs) and slowing it way the fuck down to make sure you’re paying attention, and borrowing Spinal Tap’s amps so they could put the volume up to 11. Slowly we rot sounded like it was slow because the band was having trouble playing their instruments. Cause of Death is slow so you can each individual hammer blow to your pelvis, vertebrae and cranium.
Most albums that try to be really Death Metal end up as some kind of pathetic self parody –exhibit A. anything by Cannibal Corpse. Cause of Death isn’t like that because Obituary isn’t trying to be really death metal, that’s just the way they are. Songs like Chopped In Half are nothing but unadulterated classic death metal, and you’ll fucking know it when you some rabid corpse bellow ‘WRAAAAAHHHHCHOPPED IN HALF!’ the words emerging from the scream.
In terms of innovation, Slowly We Rot is going to be the album people talk about, and they’re right to because it took pushed back the boundaries of the genre. However it only did so in the ‘Look, we can growl deeper and have a more buzzsaw-like guitar tone than anyone else’, which someone was bound to do anyway, and being the most extreme in the late 80’s and early 90’s was a five minutes of fame that wasn’t worth having. Cause of Death was probably the first existential Death Metal album in the sense that it started to deal with what the genre was and how it works rather than Deathesque ‘look we’re Kreator but heavier’, Morbid Angelesque ‘look, we can play Slayer riffs with more dissonance’ and so on and so forth. Not that I don’t love those band’s early albums, it’s just that Cause Of Death also had something important and new about it.
Cause of Death does have flaws, if not quite all the riffs being completely great can fairly be called a flaw. But that doesn’t detract from the importance of this album historically and artistically. Listen to this next to any ‘IY AMM WINNNAR!!!11’ 1000 beat a second death metal album (like half of the Relapse catalogue) and then tell me which is more brutal. Obituary can’t fucking lose.
If you're into old Floridian death metal from the late 80's - early 90's you already know how classic this album is. I can't think of anything that sounds quite like Obituary, especially in the vocals department. I can't be far off when I say that John Tardy's voice is like what you would get if you shoved a microphone down the throat of a maggot-infested corpse and beat it with a hammer. This, combined with slow (for the most part) and chunky riffs so thick your head will explode, makes 'Cause Of Death' one of my favorite death metal albums of all time.
James Murphy's solos are smooth yet scorching, and complement the feeling of the album perfectly. This is one album I really think deserves the label of brutal. It's not fast and it's not technical, but I literally feel like I'm dying when I listen to it. Imagine being rundown by a semi at 70 mph and living through it. I can't think of anything I don't like about this album. Why did I only give it a 95 you ask? Well, I'm not sure the perfect album has been recorded yet...but this is damn close.
Favorite tracks: Infected, Cause Of Death (killer intro solo).
Peeling, rid you of your skin....IN-FECT-ED!!!
James Murphy, from Spiritual Healing fame, he plays lead guitar on this. Is it important? Yes, because is one of the only things that makes this album worth having. While his solos are not as varied as the ones on Spiritual Healing, they do work from time to time, before getting old or dull because of the soft guitar tone he use for the leads, kind of like Dave Murray's tone. Just picture it...on a death metal album, and you'll see what i mean.
As for the rest...there's your pretty good cover found here. Guess from which band it is, win another prize. Generally more death metal-ish than the original, plus better production (than the original) and much, much better lead guitar. All and all, better than the original, IMO, but hear it for yourself and do your own judgement.
The rest of the album loses in great part because of the excessive use of mediocre riffs, if we compare it with its predecessor. Just hear the first track, "Infected". Fucking slow and plodding (some may say is a good thing), then the lead guitars come to save the day. That's pretty much what happens frequently here: the solos save the rest of the music, that is before you get bored of the tone James uses.
Highlights: "Memories Remains" (great chorus), "Find the Arise" (pretty short, though) and "Turned Inside Out". There. And don't expect to find anything special on the remaster, other than three demo versions which were recorded before Murphy's entrance on the band (without lead guitars, of course and half of the vocals that were on the final product).
Everyone knows Obituary. Everyone knows their muddy style. Everyone knows John Tardy has one of the best voices in metal... ever. And everyone knows that Obituary were as brutal as any of their peers, without being as technical or fast.
Obituary took their raw sound to another level with Cause of Death. James Murphy added his well known guitar work to the album, replacing Allen West. The drums sounds fuller as well.
Cause of Death has one of Obituary's most popular songs, which is a favorite of mine, as well as most Death Metal fans: Chopped in Half. Few songs compare to the brutality of the opening of this classic.
There is a great cover of Celtic Frost's Circle of the Tyrants on here as well. They pull of this song very well, considering the original artists.
One thing that always annoys me about this album is the version of Find the Arise they did. I know that when this first came out, few had heard the demo version, but now everyone has heard it and knows that this song is meant to be raw. The opening on the Cause of Death version is completely flat compared to the demo version. I really think they should have kept the demo version.
Memories Remain has a very hard hitting vibe to it. Almost like someone is pounding you in the head over and over with a baseball bat. And you can't get much better than John screaming "life goes on". Gotta love it when someone tells those puny unmetal fans to deal with it!
If you are lucky enough to get your hands on the expanded version, you'll get the demo versions of Infected, Memories Remain, and Chopped in Half.