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Oh my goodness. How did heavy metal evolve to become so gnarly and extreme? It's amazing how bands have taken this kind of music to a whole new level of extremity and turned it into something completely different than what it was. That is by no means a bad thing, as it is a display of artistic creativity and originality. Heavy metal has allowed artists to morph it into anything they wanted it to be, which is why there are so many bands coming out today playing different styles, from doom metal to power metal. Obituary have taken thrash metal and made it sound even more outrageous and extreme, with the addition of bestial vocalization and gut-wrenching lyrics. These guys must have been mentally disturbed to have come up with such psychotic music. Actually, Obituary are the only death metal band along with Death that are just normal guys that like to express grotesque human fantasies through music. Cannibal Corpse are absolute freaks, and Deicide have the biggest satanic posing idiot as a frontman that sings about blowing Satan.
Slowly We Rot is unlike any other death metal record I have ever come across. I mean, it is heavily influenced by thrash metal and features "death growls" that are a mandatory requirement for something to be called death metal. But, there is a sludge metal influence that makes this album so goddamn unique. John Tardy is one of the most distinguished vocalists in death metal, therefore I must give credit to other reviewers for saying this, but he does not growl, he fucking roars like a dinosaur. Even though a lot of people don't think of Obituary as the best death metal band, John Tardy is one of the best vocalists, and one would know that a song is by Obituary just from Tardy's inhumane roars. He is one of the reasons that I always come back to listen to Slowly We Rot, along with the sludgy and bone-crushing riffs. May your corpse rot slowly. After all, you would be feeding an entire ecosystem.
I often try to emulate Tardy's roars, but I just can't. Instead, I sound like I'm constipating. He really is one of, if not the most talented vocal figures in death metal. Right from the first "UUUUUGGGGGHHHHH" in "Internal Bleeding", you know what you're in for; a devastatingly heavy and sickening ride that will make you watch over your shoulder every two seconds, just in case the rotten corpse on the album cover wants to eat you. Slowly We Rot has such a thick sound, it feels like walking in a pond of toxic sludge. "Immortal Visions" is a quintessential death metal song with its intricate drumming patterns, intense guitar riffs, and monstrous growls. Slowly We Rot is like being strapped to chair while your kidnappers bombard you with crazy chugging riffs, high speed drumming, and demonic growls till your eardrums pop.
It is hard to find any faults with Slowly We Rot. One of the oldest death metal albums is still one of the most brutal and extreme. How did Obituary manage to do that? Simple. They didn't feel the need to look a certain way and follow cliche metal trends like Satanism and a "FUCK YOU!"attitude. They just play music because they want to and because they're damn good at what they do. Slowly We Rot is filled with great tracks that will make you want to go into "psycho mode". "'Til Death" and the title track are the highlights of this wild album. Again, the riffs are outstanding, and Obituary have set themselves apart from all other death metal bands of the Florida scene. Nobody can replicate a track like "'Til Death" or the masterful title track. I think these tracks are all top notch, and the rest of the album is also phenomenal. But, songs like "Bloodsoacked" and "Stinkupuss" do not measure up to the godly standards of "Slowly We Rot" (which is a death metal classic) and "Gates To Hell".
Slowly We Rot has become a landmark album in the death metal genre, and its reputation is highly deserved. I've noticed that people overlook Obituary very much. While I haven't listened to much of their work besides their first two albums, it is almost painful not to see one of the pioneers of death metal in some "best death metal bands" lists and all that shit. Come on people, give these guys the respect they deserve. Morbid Angel and Deicide can kiss my hairy ass for all I care, Obituary slaughters them to death with Slowly We Rot. If you haven't listened to Slowly We Rot, I hope you rot slowly, you bastards!
In addition to being one of the most important prime movers in the early Florida death metal scene, Obituary generally tends to be one of the most misunderstood, at least in terms of their earliest offerings. Much has been made about how they pushed the envelope in a way not really experienced in the earlier days of death metal when it was still tied more closely to its thrash roots (think early Sepultura and Death's first few albums), but with this has come an implicit impression that their efforts paved the way for what became the brutal character of the later 90s. Contrary to this picture, Obituary presents something that is by all means intense, horrific, and worthy of an elongated screaming fit, but also something that is about as closely tied to their own mid 80s thrash metal roots as Death's "Leprosy", with a touch more sludge and nastiness to their production that is along somewhat similar lines to Autopsy. In other words, the grind-inspired blasting mayhem of "Altars Of Madness" and the extremely guttural gurgles of Deicide's formative albums is not to be found in Obituary's early days, particularly in the case of their rightly lauded debut "Slowly We Rot".
Nevertheless, it should be noted that by 1989 an album like this was definitely on the highest echelon in terms of intensity and aggression, it just wasn't quite to where Suffocation would be 2 years later, or where Morbid Angel had gotten to at around the same time. It's still very much tied to the same overall thrash metal riffing style that typified the mid 80s death metal sound, complete with a wild soloing style out of Allen West (who later put his 2 cents into Six Feet Under's earliest works) that is heavily similar to the Slayer inspired madness that the Hoffman brothers would contribute to the Florida scene via Deicide. Combined with a drum battery that is only slightly more double bass happy than the typical Teutonic thrash album and a vocal performance out of John Tardy that has more in common with the throaty, moderately low character of Chuck Schuldiner, and what emerges is an album that can be equally appreciated by old school death metal fans and harder edged thrash adherents who are looking for something a bit more intense than what was coming out of San Francisco in the late 80s.
Arguably the most unique aspect of this album is how short the individual songs are, in spite of coming off as longer than they actually are given the characteristically rapid switches between fast and slow that defines their formula. Be it the punishingly slow elements at play on "Deadly Intentions" that play off on a faster element that is pretty close to the chaotic elements of "South Of Heaven" and "Reign In Blood", or the generally fast and occasionally tremolo based work heard on "Bloodsoaked" and "Immortal Visions", the ongoing formula speaks heavily to an extreme dichotomy between doom and thrash metal that was not widely heard of. But the most wickedly exhilierating example of this effective use of extremes in tempo change matched with a muddy, vile guitar tone is heard on the slow trudging turned frenzied monster of a title song "Slowly We Rot". Interestingly enough, the principle riff of this song actually bears a slight resemblance to the later death n' roll craze that the band is largely credited with starting, having almost a NWOBHM character that is easy to identify as such apart from the morose character of the guitars playing it.
If nothing else, Obituary's pioneering debut does an astonishing job at vividly illustrating through musical technique the meaning conveyed in its very title. Matching together the intense switches in fast and slow often finds one seeing the slow fester of a corpse not unlike the one adorning the album cover, while the massive jumps in tempo could be likened to the rapid movement of bacteria and fungus at the mircoscopic level devouring the dead cells of the cadaver. The only real thing that this album has working against it is a somewhat limited riff set that sees a lot of similar ideas recurring from one song to the next, though it's about as small of an issue as it was on a number of thrash metal albums that opted for impact and aggression over flash and technique. It's definitely an essential piece of the early death metal puzzle that no fan of the genre should be without, and one that will probably appeal as much to those who took to the outer fringes of the 80s thrash scene, particularly the mid to late 80s work of Slayer and Possessed. Even after more than 2 decades of genre expansion, this beast can still send chills down the bones of any that cross its auditory path.
Ah yes, slowly we all march towards the inevitability of death.....and no one reminds us of this fact more readily than the mighty Obituary. In addition to its all too acutely gory titles, this particular release's artwork is topped off with a seemingly dead, presumably-drunkard-in-life, poor sap lying on the street, graphically rendered in the style of a cheesy 80s beat 'em up style video game. This only serves to accentuate and compliment Obituary's already over-the-top, sensational nature, as exemplified by John Tardy's unmistakable long-winded growls and simple, to-the-point lyrical content dealing with nihilism and the inevitability of our own demise. Everything about Obituary is catchy and easily retained after only a few listens, a rare gift indeed, as I've not ever heard any other band in death metal that is so easily comprehensible and yet has such endless replay value as does Obituary. Obituary has not changed hardly at all stylistically in the 25 years of their existence, and you can kind of compare them to the ancient creatures that have seen little to no evolutionary change, with their phenotypes being essentially the same for millions and millions of years, dubbed "living fossils," and such is the same for Obituary, a living fossil of death metal--resisting change--not needing it. And this is what makes Obituary so special, their consistency and uncompromising nature; they are what they are, and if you don't like it, they don't care (as a later song title would declare). Perhaps one of the remotely few comparable bands in this regard that comes to mind would be Jungle Rot in all their simple stupid splendor, but they don't have the magic of John Tardy on the mic or the riff construction skills of Obituary.
Each Obituary album has its own identity with subtle differences, yet still being unmistakably Obituary. Slowly We Rot has the driest, bone-crunchingest (I think I just made that word up), most cacophonous guitar tone they've ever utilized throughout their long career, with a touch more of their thrash roots showing through. I would say the most obvious comparison to Slowly We Rot in terms of guitar tone and riffing would be another Florida band with an album out this very same year: Morbid Angel. Altars of Madness reminds me a bit of Slowly We Rot mostly due to the dry crunchy thrashy guitar tone and riff onslaught that both albums erupt forth. However, the comparisons mostly end there between these two albums (and bands too, really). I don't know who is predominately responsible for coming up with Obituary's riffs, but I do know that the period when they had Allen West was when most of their best albums were made. His soloing is definitely the best of the guitarists they had, blending into their riffing style best and most naturally. I've never been too keen on guitar solos, often ignoring them, more or less, to focus on the rhythm and riffing (since that's what I love so much about death metal), but Allen West's soloing really meshes well with the riffs and enhances each song in Slowly We Rot (since the soloing is kept to reasonable amounts), as in the opening song "Internal Bleeding", which gets a lot of its character from his efforts.
In addition to some excellent soloing, there is also some excellent riffing, what a surprise--aye! As I said in my opening paragraph, Obituary possesses a rare ability to construct fantastic death metal that is easily comprehensible, and their riffing is the foundation of this ability--catchy, yet morbid as all hell riffing that sticks with the listener from the very first listen. Their riffing tends to be straight-forward, with simple sickly melodies surrounded by the grotesque rhythms of Trevor Peres and John Tardy. As mentioned in the introduction; Obituary is a living fossil, and so too has their songwriting changed little in those 25 years, being very formulaic, but that's not necessarily a bad thing and Obituary has made it work so well. They often start with a slow to mid-paced groove riff, followed by a pummeling double bass section, then transition quickly into an up-tempo punky section, utilizing tremolo riffs and skank beats to increase the intensity, and finally coming full circle back to the slow/mid-paced groove of the beginning. There are so many obvious examples of this, but one example of a highlight that sticks out far above and beyond would be during the middle of "'Till Death," when the song transitions into that slow, ultra-doomy riff that could come straight from a funeral procession for Satan himself, unholy shit! That is the highlight of this entire album, so unbelievably amazing....And to top it all off, this doomy mood carries over into the beginning of the title track; "Slowly We Rot," before it breaks out into a faster punkier section guilty of inducing the most wild moshing I've ever seen. I was there, during MDF 2010 (so old school), right in the pit! And I saw what this did to the people....it made them go so crazy, I feared for my life! And I haven't even gotten to the highlight of the album yet--John Tardy! I say this because the riffing here on Slowly We Rot is actually not the best the band has ever come up with. Regardless, all the classic Obituary ingredients are here, but now we're all just waiting for the (ironically) immortal riffing to come in on a release like Cause of Death, to make something truly and horrifically unforgettable.
"BLAAAAHHHHUUUURRRRRRR!" Tardy exclaims with gut-busting power on "Internal Bleeding," as it repeats until it fades out briefly--only to enter back in a few seconds later. And here you have what makes this album so god damn good: John Tardy's beyond sick and morbid vocal performance, which puts all these shitty new school pig-squealing bands to shame. If there is one aspect of Obituary that has always been consistently good it's John Tardy's vocals. Sometimes the riffing has been lackluster; sometimes the production and guitar tone have been flat; but John Tardy has always been there, spewing forth his over-the-top and instantly recognizable take on death metal vocals. His distinct style has a tendency to transition suddenly from low gutturals into piercing screams rather often--sometimes even on the same syllable, creating a sort of rhythmic progression--which adds lots of extra dramatic effect, and enhances the horrific nature Obituary is attempting to construct in their music. And Tardy is a master at creating these brutal rhythms under (and in the case of this album, OVER) the classic Obituary riffing. His performance here on Slowly We Rot is loud and totally in-your-god-damn-face, utilizing short and sweet lyrical bursts, ala his profuse growls of "Rotting, beneath, below!" at the opening of the song "Suffocation"--his catchiest vocals lines on the album. And yet, the entire album is chock-full of ghastly, brutal-as-fuck, yet catchy vocal moments like this, elevating the album to new levels of excellence not often heard in death metal at the time--indeed, Tardy's work here would play a big part in the development of early death metal vocal styles.
And there you have it--Obituary's early classic masterpiece Slowly We Rot in a nutshell. While similar in approach to and possessing the replayability of other notable classics of its day, such as Altars of Madness and Leprosy, Slowly We Rot ups the ante on morbidity and sick nihilism--just the way I like it. I've never been all that impressed with Death personally, and Morbid Angel took a rapid dive into mediocrity after their masterpiece Altars of Madness. Both of these bands are notable for changing up their style and approach with each successive album, and while I can understand their desire to try new things and experiment, their varying directions didn't work all that well, and I'm glad Obituary decided not to follow such trends, retaining their basic style throughout their career--forever remaining a living fossil. All I can tell you now, my dear reader, is this: If you happen to be one of the lucky few enlightened death metal enthusiasts in this world, but have not yet explored the grisly wonders of Obituary, do so now and waste not another minute of your decaying, rotting existence on this Earth and go buy ALL of their albums.... NOW!
The thrash metal producer of the age Scott Burns I would say is equally responsible as the band for making this album such a success. Commercially it did pretty good for a death metal band but let’s just say the likes of Bon Jovi and Motley Crue were not losing any sleep concerning the uprising of American death metal. This flourishing musical bed of guttural belches and thick slow riffs found itself a home in the swampy heat of Florida State and Obituary were for a time the flagship band there.
As a teenager by the time this record came out I was already a die hard thrasher wearing my Metallica shirts and Kreator patches on my denim jacket but this style was something new to me. The UK press built the band up as the slowest heaviest thing to hit the record shops ever but when I got around to purchasing the thing what is shocking is the furious thrashing pace that the majority of the songs possessed.
Now my absolute favourite band at this time was Celtic Frost and it would be impossible to write about Slowly We Rot with out bring up this band. The previous year Celtic Frost alienated its fans by releasing a glammed up straight rock album and it left a gaping hole in the scene that Obituary not only filled but defiled awesomely. The guitar sound in particular is uncanny in its resemblance to that on Celtic Frost’s Emperor Returns and Morbid Tales EP’s. That’s where Scott Burns comes in, it is incredibly difficult to get such a sludgy treacle like guitar sound that when combined with drums, bass and vocals doesn’t come across as a sloppy flabby mess. For proof check out the majority of death metal releases during 1989 and you’ll see what I mean. Here, Burns production techniques give the airy space that a record like this needs, everything is clear except for the majority of lyrics that singer John Tardy belches out. But with this kind of music you wouldn’t want it any other way now, would you?
From the opening riffs of Internal Bleeding it’s clear that even with a short running time of 2.40 that there was no other way to open this record. Tardy delivers two huge Thomas Gabriel Warrior-esque belches that work as a further nod to their Celtic Frost influences and from that the band forge their own path into death metal history. A couple of times the band slip up though, most notably on Suffocation which being placed on side two stands out for purely sounding by the numbers and offers nothing special to proceedings. Yet the majority of tracks on here obliterate previous death metal efforts out of the water. Take the title track as a prime example, the riffs are fat, thick bastards torn straight from Satan’s own songbook, the verse is almost catchy for want of a better word and as for the finale, well, it’s a thrash metal perfection. A race to the finish with skewed solo’s flailing all over the place. It’s utterly thrilling.
A year later thrash was on its last legs but death metal was still flourishing, Obituary, although riding the second wave of death found themselves amongst the scene leaders. I caught them live in 1992 I think at the London Astoria playing with Napalm Death and it seemed the band was going through the motions but three years earlier the group sound ridiculously hyped up and gunning for success. I wish I had seen them then.
If Scream Bloody Gore or Leprosy could represent the cackling crypt lord ruling over the animated corpse court of a sepulchral domain, then Obituary's Slowly We Rot would be the shambling caretaker and enforcer, with a cruder outlook but the same ghastly intent. Having spent a good 5 years on the underground/demo circuit under the name Xecutioner, they were originally writing filthy thrash in the vein of Hellhammer or Venom, and you can certainly hear those influences carried to the extreme here. But foremost, the difference would be in the vocals of John Tardy. They're not entirely unlike Chuck Schuldiner, but taken to a grisly extreme that, while taken for granted by most today in lieu of the basement gutturals and pig squealing so common for death metal, were quite frightening in their age. You simply hadn't heard a man vomit this much into a microphone, and while Death kept the vocals creepy but level with the onslaught of fantastic guitar riffing, Obituary is cool with letting Tardy own the mix.
There are some similarities in the guitars also, but Trevor Peres and Allen West were using a thicker, more processed distortion highly reminiscent of the Hellhammer tone, and a lot of the riffs are slower and more doomy than those on Leprosy. That said, the motif works to great effect here, because Tardy's presence over such slogs as "Slowly We Rot" or "Bloodsoaked" will instantly transport the listener into the pit of festering terror that permeates this album. This is ultimately a very well paced effort, with equal measures of carnal breakdowns and faster zombie riots that conjure a morbid hypnosis. Once the resonant sewage gutturals of the "Internal Bleeding" intro cede to the drum fill, and the crushing guitars arrive beneath Tardy's initial torn throat, the band breaks into this incredibly primitive groove while you attempt to acclimatize to the vocals you are hearing. How does a human being sound like this without having appendages trapped in a meatgrinder? Truly sickening and effective, and the perfect balance for the more lowly mixed instrumentation and the effortless, wild tearing of the guitar leads that penetrate the atmospheric din like needles stitching the flesh of patchwork abominations.
"Godless Beings" moves at a faster slice not unlike the material you were hearing on Brazilian Sepultura's Beneath the Remains (same year), but then busts into this wall of groove which Obituary would use about 300 times through the rest of their catalog. The slower bridge here provides a great foreshadowing to "Memories Remain", perhaps my favorite song from the band (appearing on Cause of Death). From here, we hit on a number of other classics like the titular "Slowly We Rot" with its forceful doom drudge and total punk rock out; "Bloodsoaked" with the escalating carnage of its central riff and washes of harrowing vocal gore that cut through the intro sequence; "Stinkupuss" which has an amazing, shrill lead sequence in between its flesh quaking grooves; or "Deadly Intentions" with its thick broil of pulverizing Hellhammer thrash rhythms. A few of the riffs here were uninspired even by 80s standards and the newly burgeoning genre, and I've never been all that taken with "Gates to Hell" or the lengthy "Intoxicated" outside of the Tardy vocals, but Slowly We Rot is nothing if not consistent through most of the 35 minutes.
Considering the fresh menace of its newly dubbed genre, and the rare ability to hold up after so many years, it's safe to say that the Obituary debut is a bona fide death metal classic. It's not a masterpiece at the level of Leprosy or Altars of Madness because the individual songs don't possess that same level of riffing. This is an issue that was clearly addressed with its followup Cause of Death, which is superior and the best thing the band have released to this day. Yet Slowly We Rot is still well worth repeated visits due to its visceral, unforgiving aesthetics. I can recall many conversations in high school and at thrash gigs about how disgusting and extreme this new Florida band Obituary was, and certainly the debut does not disappoint, with brutal vocals and adequately nihilistic lyrics. But this initial 'shock' value aside, it does suffer from some mild redundancy where its successor does not.
A very influential band in the burgeoning Florida death metal scene of the early 1990s, Obituary lay down a relentless mix of thrash and thunderous death metal brutality. With each song becoming heavier and more disturbing than the next, Obituary was immediately poised to take the death metal world by storm and become one of the main influences in the genre.
“Slowly We Rot” has the energetic feel that most thrash fans will find in the musical genre, but some elements of this album represent the evolution into death metal as each song becomes faster in tempo, brings in more double bass kicking, features more complicated riffs, and the vocals change from the harsh thrash yelling and screaming to some experimentation with death metal gutturals and a lot of horrified shrieking.
The vocals are great, exploding forth with tortured wails fearfully describing every act of malevolence occurring in each song. The only fault I can find with the vocals is that they’re a little too loud in the mix and make it hard for the music around them to be heard.
From the beginning, it’s obvious that Obituary likes to tone it down. Songs like the title track, “Godly Beings”, and “Till Death”, and “Gates to Hell” show that right off the bat this band likes to feed the amoral beast of breakdown to the public and at other times keep the entire tempo of a song nice and slow. This style is very overplayed today, but even with so many breakdowns in modern metal this has such personality and brutality to it that the style doesn’t become overplayed at all. In actuality, the breakdowns empower the faster sections later in each song.
Some of the best songs on this album are “Suffocation”, “Slowly We Rot”, and “Stinkpuss”. These songs stand out among all the great tracks on this album and are some of the most brutal of the track listing. The solos in “Suffocation” really show the direction of death metal at the time, blistering but still a little bluesy and melodic, much different from what is heard today with bands like Necrophagist who solo throughout a song or Nile where a solo will have no melody but pure rage throughout each vibration of the strings. The guitars have a good down-tuned chugging to them that make each song heavier than the last, and when each solo comes in, it is as though an ode to Reign in Blood is being played.
It’s obvious that drumming has become a new focal point in this iteration of heavy metal compared to their thrash predecessors. Nearly every song features thundering double bass kicking, snare and cymbal bursts and at times overshadows the guitars. The drums do not grind or blast as much as they could to bring in more balls to each song, but they are good in all and add well to the breakdowns in some of the songs. It seems as though the drummer was a little overwhelmed with his newfound prominence in the mix, but as the album continues the drumming does get more complicated and brings more to each song like in “Bloodsoaked” and “Deadly Intentions”.
In all, this album is great, as any death metal fan would attest to, and like so many of Obituary’s albums should join the collections of any death metal fan who wants to resurrect the old Tampa, Florida death metal scene and hear some of the most underground music on the planet or explore some of the influences of today’s death metal newcomers.
What more can be said about this death metal classic? When it was first released way back in 1989, metal fans were absolutely floored, and with good reason. Perhaps it was the crushing brutality that bands like Death and Possessed had not quite accomplished yet. Maybe it was John Tardy's vocals, which to this day still melt the ears of even the most hardened death metal fans. In addition to the vocals and the sheer heaviness of this album, the best ingredient which made Obituary stand out was songwriting.
Now I am not saying that previous death metal bands were not good songwriters, but with this album speed, groove, and devastating riffs are balanced nicely. Take the first track, "Internal Bleeding". It begins with a short, ominous intro before exploding with a groove rhythm. That rhythm stays throughout the track, making it very effective without having to use blinding speed. The very next track however takes the listener by storm. "Godly Beings" takes no prisoners as it races by leaving destruction in its wake. The song then alternates between speed and slower riffs. This pattern continues throughout the album.
While this album may seem neanderthal to a modern listener, it is essential to understand that in 1989 such songs were few and far between. "Slowly We Rot" may have followed the blueprint that earlier death metal bands drew, but Obituary made it more effective, more brutal, and (dare I say it?) more accessible.
If you have an insatiable need for speed, then you would do well to listen too songs such as "Godly Beings", "Gates To Hell", and "Words of Evil." If slower, heavier riffs are more your style, then you should listen to the title track, "Deadly Intentions", and "Bloodsoaked." Of course if you're like me, then you will completely ignore the above recommendations and simply listen to the album in its entirety, marveling at how "Slowly We Rot" is hands-down a great album. It should should be appreciated not only at how well it was written, but also how this one album was instrumental in changing the landscape of death metal in the years to come.
I was a fan, back in those days. Bought their stuff, went to their gigs, got the stuff autographed. You get the picture. Not a huge fan though. Obituary were one of the death metal bands I was really into but not in my top 10 of favourite acts. Music-wise Obituary weren’t even close to Death, Morbid Angel, Carcass, Bolt Thrower, Pestilence and such bands in ’89-’90.
But John Tardy was unique! Eyes wide open when I first heard ‘Slowly We Rot’. Damn this boy was sick! That guitar tone, so dirty. Evil leads and solo’s making Kerry King sound like a choirboy. The whole concept of ‘Slowly We Rot’ overwhelmed me.
To be honest it was mostly the impact this album made back in ’89 which did and still does the trick. A unique sound and new level of dirtiness yet totally incomparable to Autopsy and such.
Take the riffing of Celtic Frost, let Scott Burns have a go at smudging the sound, thrust it through a meat grinder with a big load of Possessed madness and there your have Obituary’s music. Including the meat grinder that it. Give a youngster a microphone tell him to imagine he’s being eaten alive while eating a fellow man himself simultaneously and John Tardy even becomes more than the icing on the cake but almost the cake itself.
12 songs in 35 minutes, Unequalled by the band themselves to this day. Relentless!
The very first Obituary album is a true classic. The violence here expressed by these young musicians was an example for the generation of deathsters to come. Everything here is so obscure, sick and brutal, starting from the bestial, animalistic John Tardy’s vocals…like none else…a trademark. The production is not so clean like the other, following albums but is perfect for the rotten atmosphere.
The beginning is one of the best in death metal with songs like “Internal Bleeding” and “Godly Beings”: the up tempo parts and the mid paced, already morbid as fuck, pbreaks are perfectly balanced with weird solos and catchy lines. The distorted screams in “’Till Death” have something of inhuman while the violent drums parts tear my limbs apart. When the band decides to point on the doom side there’s nothing on this world that could match them: pure sickness.
I've always considered them the “Celtic Frost” of death metal for their muddy guitars distortion and the down tempo, so typical of the Suisse band. The title track has made history in death metal with its main guitar riff and the following up tempo. “Gates To Hell” is another pure, great death metal song with vocals on the borderline between black metal and death at 1:47, during the refrain! The up tempo sections are incredible for malevolence.
What can be said for legendary songs like “Words Of Evil” (with a massive death metal riffage), the more thrash oriented “Suffocation” and the excellent drums work by Donald Tardy on “Intoxicated”? This is pure DEATH METAL. Period. Highly recommended for old school metal fans, and thrashers as well. A fundamental piece of history of this music.
I remember only a few years ago when I listened to this band for the first time. This album blew me away like none other. And it still gives me chills listening to it. Obituary was actually the first death metal band I remember listening to, and as I encountered many death metal bands over the years, Obituary did their best to stand out. "Slowly We Rot", their debut, is definite proof.
First off, starting with the vocals. John Tardy is like none other. He tends to remind the listener of Chuck Schuldiner, but with an added twist to it sometimes. It's rare that he will go guttural, but on tracks like "Godly Beings", that is just some proof. He may not be completely decipherable, but he makes Obituary worth a listen. The other Tardy brother, Donald Tardy, is excellent behind the drum kit. For example, listen to the beginning of "Intoxicated". Rather interesting if you ask me. Allen West is another person I have to give credit to for making such interesting guitar riffs and solos. The downtuned riffs he produces tend to paint a chaotic picture of the gruesome side of life. This is how a vintage death metal record should sound.
Do not miss out on Obituary and their works. I highly recommend for fans of other quality vintage death metal bands, such as early Death, Pestilence, Cancer, and early Gorguts.
What we have here is a slab of early Floridian Death Metal, this is Venom and Bathory, Celtic Frost all thrown into something meaner and nastier, this is the release that really started Obituary, before this, they had a few little known demo's as the band "Xecutioner" which formed around 84/85, and would later become, you guessed it, Obituary.
This was the first project for the legendary Death Metal producer, Scott Burns at Morrisound Studios in Tampa Florida, and you could tell this was his first project, allthough the sound is not terrible at all, he would certainly get better at it, check out "Sepultura - Arise" For his best production, but the production here fits, as this album is very raw, and mean.
"Internal Bleeding" Opens with a doomish intro, then finally, Tardys drums slam in, and Johns vocals come in, "EEEEUUUUUURRGHHHHH!" Fucking Killer!, the riff work in this song is excellent too, pretty midpaced, but it does speed up in spots, and a killer solo too, "Godly Beings" I could do without, it's not terrible, but theres much better songs to be found on this album, such as the next track "'Til Death" opens with another doomish intro, Donalds vocals eventually fade in, with Tardys vocals, and Trevor and Allen really tear it up here, as the riffs are very thrashy and heavy, and the soloing is just fucking killer, and of course, Johns vocals are killer as always, who knows what he's saying half the time, but it rules, "Slowly We Rot" Opens with yet another doom-like riff, and a church bell, this song just shreds, as there are more killer riffs and leads present, and Tardy really sounds like a madman on this one, indeed a classic.
"Immortal Visions" IS FAST AS FUCK!, Another shredder, one of the fastest on the album, especially in the beginning, more excellent riffs, and another killer solo, this album hardly lets up, "Gates to Hell" Holy fuck!, riffs that will just own you, and unmatched speed, this song is every Death Metalers dream, this song is short, but sweet, "Words of Evil" Is kind of stupid, too short, now "Suffocation" on the other hand, is another killer song, lots of Thrash riffs found here, now here is where you will hear the difference in production, reason being, the songs from here on in, were recorded later, after meeting with Monte, the sound is not as raw as the previous songs.
"Intoxicated" Is nothing short of awesome, opening with a drumroll, and then more killer riffs, and theres a killer break too, with a wicked cool groove riff, and the solo shred as well, "Deadly Intentions" Starts with a riff that is silimar to some of the riffs in the previous track, and wicked cool belts by Tardy as well, high piercing screams, and yet another creepy, shredding solo, the rest of the songs are good too, but it's more of the same, nothing really new to write something special about.
I do not believe this to be their best, for me it's the next album, but this one is sure a winner, it's original, heavy, and very cool sounding, if you're already a fan of Death Metal, and haven't heard this, get it, because you will love it, for those who aren't into Death Metal yet, try this out, it worked on me, so it could for you as well.
OBITUARY- SLOWLY WE ROT
Although Obituary was the first band that introduced me to the incredible realm that is death metal, I found "Slowly We Rot" to be somewhat sludgy and really slow in some areas. Their brand of death metal is that slow, almost grungy type that I am not really fond of. I am more into the faster, more brutal, straight-for-the-jugular type of death metal that their Floridian peers seem to master (Deicide, Malevolent Creation, etc.). Not that I hate "Slowly We Rot", though, I just thought it was somewhat slow and it can be improved upon. That being said, I can move on to my review.
We start off with "Internal Bleeding" , which is not also a great song, but a good album opener. It starts with a really atmospheric sound effect that reminds me of being inside a morgue. This sound effect lasts for about thirty seconds, and after the suspense is over with, everything that I thought was "heavy music" is raped and thrown out the window. A barrage of noise and John Tardy's unnerving growl follows immediately afterwords. It's an awesome song, which sums up what the rest of "Slowly We Rot".
The next song, which is "Godly Beings", is another good song which features an awesome breakdown somewhere along the 1:13 mark. "Till Death" is another highlight from SLOWLY WE ROT, because John Tardy gets to exercise his disturbing growl a little more prominately than on previous songs. I think its one of their best numbers. The next song, which is the entire namesake for the album, "Slowly We Rot", I thought had really good music for the first forty seconds or so, before it was interrupted rudely by John Tardy's awesome growl. It's not the best song on the album, but it's memorable.
The rest of the album is pretty much the same formula (nonstop growling, slow but heavy music, etc), with nothing much standing out, except for "Immortal Visions" and "Words of Evil" being awesome headbanging material. I also thought that "Suffocation" had some weird vocal effect because it makes John Tardy sound like he's singing in an elevator.
Overall, I think SLOWLY WE ROT was okay, I would have given this album a higher rating if it were a bit more faster ( a la Morbid Angel). Anyone who's looking to hear how Death Metal sounds like, they can't go wrong with this offering.
Fuck, heavy AND brutal all at the same time without being silly. Modern death metal bands should learn from this album quite a bit.
The old school influence is so blatantly obvious. In ocassions, they do a better job being Celtic Frost than Celtic Frost themselves did at that time (this is 1989, the year when Vanity/Nemesis was released), like the title track for example, pure and simple Frost adoration the way only fans of Warrior's spawn can make. They draw some other influences from Possessed, Scream Bloody Gore era Death and have some similitudes with Massacre, specially in the lightning fast trem picking patterns (Allen West, Obituary's guitar player, was in that band for a while during their demo days. I can hear some of the same ideas in riffing that Massacre would show in their From Beyond album). Plus, the vocals are so fucking demented at times. If you think all that John Tardy is capable of are deep and low grunts, listen to the song "Gates to Hell" at the 1:47 mark to hear some fucking schizo screaming there.
So far as i can tell, this is Obituary's best record. The energy and feel of the band in this recording is something that they couldn't reproduce even in their immediately next efforts ("Cause of Death" being one, but that's another review altogether). The riffs are most of them winners, they grab you in the head in a way albums like "The Key" and "Morbid Tales" do. If you like GOOD death metal, you know, heavy as shit and consistent all the way through, this is your album. Even if you felt dissapointed with any of the other Obituary releases, i strongly recommend this one. Maybe not one of the genre's best, but it is too damn strong to be ignored.
Another comment before i end this review: as some of you must now, Obituary during their demo days were known as Xecutioner (pronounced "executioner"). That was a damn cool name, they should have stuck with it. Sure, "Obituary" is more suitable for a death metal band and all, but "Xecutioner" fucking slays. I can imaging myself in a gig shouting "Xecutioner, Xecutioner, Xecutioner..." then the lights going off and the band blasting "Internal Bleeding". UURRRRGGHHHH!!! Yeah, that's all.
Obituary was one of the first graduates from the Florida death metal alumni... as Xecutioner they demoed heavily during the mid 80s, and after a well advised name change, the Obituboyz dropped Slowly We Rot in 89. Of the "class of 89" death metal records this is definitely my favorite... grinding, vicious guitars and a singer who could scare the shit out of any kindergarden class. Jon Tardy was always Obituary's most original aspect... NOBODY sounds like this guy.
The other interesting thing about Obituary's early days is that guitar sound... it sounds like they were running it through 4 metal zones with treble all the way up. Very sick, very headache inducing. After that mandatory "spooky sound collage" intro, Internal Bleeding rages forth in all it's hellish glory. Obituary are the one death metal band (well Malevolent Creation and Possessed...) that could have crossover appeal for thrash fans. I think this was the second or third DM CD i got into.
My favorite songs are Deadly Intentions and Slowly Ve ROOOAARRRT. The last riff in Til Death is a mindfuck as well... my only complaint is, although Slowly We Rot is massively heavy, that's pretty much all it is... the formula gets old pretty fast. Plus you can only handle that Tom Warrior on speed guitar sound for so long.
In conclusion: ARRRRRRAAAAAAAAARGHHHHHrrrrr.
The extremity of Obituary's (formerly known as Xecutioner) debut album "Slowly We Rot" pushed death metal to what it is today. They and the new Florida death metal explosion separated the death/thrash of the 80s from what we would consider death metal today. Bands like Death were already spewing out masses of gore ridden death, but the world wasn't quite prepared for what Obituary gave us.
"Internal Bleeding" opens the album with a short intro passage featuring ominous sounds that could only have come from Hell itself before plunging straight into the band's unique guitar sound and vocals of John Tardy (whose growls, shrieks and screams mix powerful emotion with screeching horror) It is a primitive, yet very powerful opener, the repetitive riffs taking on a hypnotic quality while Tardy's vocals almost overwhelm on first listen with Allen West's ripping solos impressing. "Godly Beings" can be described as short and sweet (if that is the right word), being very short but packing the punch of the opener. "Til Death" sees more complexity in the songwriting and several intersting time changes. The title track provides plenty of heavy, crunching riffs (dare I say catchy also?) with insane, horrific soloing which sounds very atmospheric and dark. "Immortal Visions" starts with some briliantly executed time changes and along with "Gates To Hell" houses plenty of energy and grinding riffs. Taking a less serious moment is the title of the next track, "Words Of Evil" which is, ironically, an instrumental. It goes on at a fast but steady pace, but I'm sure the main riff sounds very similar to one that had come earlier in the album. "Suffocation" is solid, not quite up to the standard of earlier tracks but not skippable either.
The album up to this point was quite technically limited (being recorded on only 8 tracks) and the remainder has a far more polished sound, though the direct, brutal sound is no less powerful compared to the latter part of the album. "Intoxicated" is the longest and most complex song here, the song structure is different here, with lengthy soloing and brutal riffing. Another short but powerful song with "Deadly Intentions", though perhaps over too quickly for all its merits. "Bloodsoaked" and "Stinkupuss" end the original tracks with more of the same quality material. The bonus tracks provided on the 97 remaster are, surprisingly, worth it. "Find The Arise" and "Like The Dead" are both well produced and display some good ability, with some less extreme vocals from Mr. Tardy. As for the rest of the musicmanship, Donald Tardy's drumming is skillful and accurate throughout, shining on "Intoxicated" and "Immortal Visions".
Obituary remain one of the most original death metal bands in style. This is pretty much an essential album for death metal fans and is a very good introduction to the genre.