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Obituary return once again with one Hellish slab of old school death metal that we (or I at least) know and love them for.
Yep, it's all here - Trevor's sluggish, doomy guitar tone, Frank's beefy as fuck bass tone, Donald's great sounding, precise drumming, John's over the top voice from Hell, and of course the beautiful lead work of Ralph Santolla on display.
Call me crazy, but I would have preferred to have heard Allen West on this album. I think his solos and leads are just so menacing and evil and have always fitted the band perfectly - I don't think they need an absolute shredder like Ralph Santolla or James Murphy for that matter to make their music more effective - But alas, Allen got into some trouble and could not record with the guys this time around, but I most definitely hope to hear more from him on future releases. Don't get me wrong though, I think that Ralph was an absolutely awesome replacement.
Xecutioner's Return starts by ripping into the deadly "Face Your God", instantly reminding me of some of the material featured on "The End Complete"... Few riffs in this song, but very effective and a totally awesome tune nonetheless. Some of Obituary's fastest material can be heard on this album such as "Second Chance" (Trevor actually plays a solo in this song) and "Seal Your Fate", as well as some doomy-as-fuck tracks like "Feel The Pain" and "Contrast The Dead". Also featured is the ultra catchy "single" of sorts, "Evil Ways", In which one reviewer stated that when listening to this song it's like you're head is being controlled by some kind of sadistic puppet master, forcing you to bang your along with the song - I couldn't agree more.
This album has more tempo variation as oppose to "Frozen In Time" (which I also thoroughly enjoyed) Which definitely gave a fresh spin on things.
This album also marks the first time Obituary has recorded in their personal recording studio, and although I have heard some complaints about the production, I think the guys did a superb job. I really like the way it came out. Unlike the early Obituary albums that are packed with a dark, grimy atmosphere, the atmosphere on Xecutioner's Return seems like nothing more than a couple guys sitting in a room drinking some brews and jamming, which I think is equally as awesome.
To sum it up, Xecutioner's Return is nothing less than a great Death Metal release, and should not be passed up by any fan of the genre.