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Dead is one of two long awaited live entries from the Florida elite to be issued in 1998, the other being Deicide's When Satan Lives. This was recorded the year prior at the Axis in Boston, when the band was touring up a storm for their Back from the Dead full-length. It's also curious in that I am pretty damned sure I was at the actual gig, though the half dozen times I've experienced Obituary through the years have admittedly muddled together in my brain. Regardless, this is quite an effort, with 16 tracks and excellent standards of production that should surely satisfy the avid follower of the band's carnal creations. Powerful, thick guitars, solid drumming and John Tardy giving a performance worthy of any studio effort. About the one element falling behind in the mix would be the bass, but it's not that you can't hear it: the instrument has simply never been dominant in the band's tone. As for the leads, they sound impressive, standing out on stage even more so than they do from the studio efforts.
I must begrudge that a few favorites of mine are missing from this set list, namely "Body Bag" and "Memories Remain" from Cause of Death, and about half the worthwhile content of their debut Slowly We Rot, but what remains is an entertaining mix of the band's earlier death metal and then their more hardcore and groove-infused 90s fare. The recent selections like "Platonic Disease", "Threatening Skies", "By the Light", "Download", "Rewind" and "Back from the Dead" offer a sizable exposure to their latest full-length outing Back from the Dead, danceable enough to whip the largely hardcore crowd into a frenzy; while popular World Demise tunes "Don't Care", "Final Thoughts" and "Kill for Me" are also included. "I'm in Pain" is thankfully the sole track from the mediocre End Complete, and the remainder of the set is a delight hearkening back to the band's pinnacle of achievement (1989-1990); Cause of Death represented by its title track, "Dying", "Chopped in Half" and "Turned Inside Out", all of which sound fucking amazing.
There are but two included from Slowly We Rot, but oh, how well the title track is placed at the conclusion of the set, its pungent and doomed grooves inciting violence throughout the audience. The last is "'Til Death". Naturally, I would have paid good money for an ENTIRE set list culled solely from the first two full-lengths, but I feel that the band at least captured some of their catchier moments from their entire body of work (to that point), and you're getting an hour of solid Obituary which was accurate to their obvious polish. They also went all out for the release, with a nifty black/white cover image and a mix job courtesy of Andy Sneap (ex-Sabbat UK), who had by 1998 begun to establish himself as a metallic go-to, though usually for his studio efforts. All told, Dead is even better sounding than it was to attend one of the band's concerts with the p.a. and amplifiers blasting into your eardrums. Most of the tunes are quite close to their studio counterparts, so there's not much improvisation or embellishment, but its certainly a decent live recording for this genre.
The real trial for any metal band is performing live. This is where you can see if they are whether truly capable of playing like in the studio albums or not.
Obituary’s Dead is their first live show recorded and I have had no regret adding it to my collection. We get a song set that I don’t particularly like, especially because this was after the release of Back from the Dead and it definitely lacks power. I bet a live recording from The End Complete era would sound totally different.
Now on the songs: you get songs from every album but the ones from Slowly We Rot and Cause of Death have absolutely no power because the distortion is too doomy instead of deathly. Evidently James Murphy left his trace in Cause of Death. On the other hand if the first two albums were the killer ones why closing the pit with Final Thoughts and then ‘Slowly We Rot’ when I would pick up ‘Find the Arise’ and ‘Slowly we Rot’ but instead we get ‘Platonic Disease’, Back from the Dead which is absolutely boring, Final Thoughts which is too slow to put before the killer mid tempo SWR.
Greetings to Don Tardy because he plays exactly like in the studio, he knows what he does and again he keeps me interested the whole record because he sounds perfectly. He is not one of those drummers who begin over performing or doing weird things to the songs, so with this he is still one of the rulers in my drummers list.
Lastly, I guess this recording was produced without patient, just because they needed to put something else out instead a real well produced show but it does capture is the raw and rotting sound we all expect from a band like Obituary and it is so good because of the atmosphere that if you close your eyes you’d feel that you are in the pit itself moshing and enjoying cool rhythm/groove death metal.
I must finally add, that is way behind the Frozen Alive live concert recorded for the Frozen in Time reunion. Now on that one they play a fucking great live set , including Back to One (one of my favorite songs so far) and many songs that don’t particularly get live airplay. Thus, if you are a fan you can get it. If you are an occasional listener get the Frozen Alive, both cd and DVD because that one surpasses this by miles. ‘Dead’ is just dead!
I'm not going to review the actual music for this album, since it is a live album, and all of the songs belong to other albums. Instead, I'm going to focus on the quality of the performance and the overall feel of the album.
The quality is good for a live performance. You can hear the muddiness of Obituary's tuning played live, which is even more muddier then their studio albums. John Tardy's vocals sound the same as they do on the studio releases, proving that his voice isn't artifical or studio altered. John sounds pretty vile when he talks to the crowd as well.
You can barely hear the crowd a lot of the time, which takes away from the atmosphere, but it isn't too penalizing. I think they are too busy breaking their necks to cheer during the songs.
The album artwork is cool, they made a collage of a bunch of pulp fiction horror art. Very cheesy, but humorous, vibe to it.
All together a good live album, but nothing that stands out above the rest.